Imagine having spent your entire life climbing this mountain and you have presently reached a peak to stop and survey every step you have taken, and you can see the many paths that trickle back and forth all the way down to the beginning. You see many ways leading up - some of the sections that got you where you are, some used by others climbing pathways that you never traveled on but considered and some climbers traveling on parts of the mountain you thought were not an option. I tend to do this when hiking and climbing. Looking out at the tiny trees and people and cars and the distance between us from a new perspective once I am up at the top is an important part of the journey for me. In general, I think connecting where I am to where I started and how I got there is really important to me.
I say all of this because I think this sums up my experience the last 9 months. I have asked ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ about myself, my story, the people I love and about God over and over. As I have considered who I am, what decisions brought me here, where God has been in it and where pain and fear have influenced my choices instead of love and desire, I have learned a ton about myself, God’s design for me and how I tend to operate outside and against that good design.
But the value hasn't necessarily been in discovering these specifics in themselves. If you think about it, just meditating on how you mess up and how you could do better if you had a second chance is a pretty miserable place to be if there is no hope for redemption beyond it, which is where I am most comfortable because I don’t have to open myself up to hope for change that is beyond my control.
However, mid way through the year I was offered this challenge with which to engage every aspect of my story, past and present -
Time + brokenness = a hardened heart unavailable to the risks of life and love
Time + brokenness + power of grace = a transformed and fruit-bearing heart in the image of God
Committing yourself to counting on time to heal you will only produce a heart calloused by brokenness and disconnected from the story God desires for you to participate in. I tend to love this first option because I am so comfortable retreating, disconnecting and withholding myself out of fear of additional pain and disappointment. However, committing every facet of my story to God’s grace over time brings a transformed and fruit-bearing heart that is ALIVE. This option requires engaging, forgiving, admitting failure/disappointment and opening yourself up to others without expectation. But the scariest part for me is trusting that God is who He says He is.
This year I have seen how appropriate this theology is to apply to almost every relational circumstance I am in. So I will leave you with the challenge out of this with which I continue to engage myself...
If you claim to follow and be inhabited by the power of Jesus, who by grace raises the dead to life and claims to have brought life in abundance – where else can you expose yourself to His grace and see His power work? Where are you settling, tolerating, running, throwing the towel in or hiding? Would you dare to consider what it would look like to open up and let Him in there as well?
The responses to these questions are probably not easy, but I believe you will find them worth it.