A few years ago, I learned a new concept that I (and I think many many others) have misunderstood for…well…ever. (As an effort to not have you misunderstand the point of this musing and accidentally speak the wrong message here, I am going to refrain from telling you what that concept was.) Anyway, I was learning new information that would come to have a domino effect on other areas of my faith and it was rocking me…all of me…and how I would relate to Jesus. With every new tidbit of truth that I was learning, I became more and more insatiably hungry to learn more (which is quite interesting because that had been a consistent prayer for me for a couple of years: that I would CRAVE him and that he would cause me to itch in a way that could only be satisfied by pursuing him.) In the zeal that I always experience when I learn something new, I wanted to share it with others…many others…ok, everyone I interacted with (this is part of why I tell people that Stan is a saint…add to that zeal that I am a verbal processor and he had to endure listening to me fumble through this subject for so many hours.) Anyway, in my zeal and lack of a filter between my brain and mouth, I embarked on a conversation with a man that I didn’t really know…and boy, did I ever handle that conversation (and his heart-space) wrong. In that conversation, I was pushy and opinionated and far from gentle…and I ended up creating a situation that alienated him instead of introducing him to a new way of thinking. At the time, I thought the man was just stubborn and was talking it through with a sweet girlfriend who observed the whole interaction when she looked at me and gently asked “Well, you didn’t always believe the way you do now…how long did it take you to get to this point? He was only first introduced to this idea 30 minutes ago.” Ouch! Ouch!!! Well, crap! She was 100% right and I knew it immediately…and I grieved. I grieved because, in my excitement, I may have just steered this man away from truth and I didn’t have a way to contact him and apologize or make it right.
I have thought about that night many times over the last few years and am reminded when I think of it to speak truth but to temper it with gentleness (and also to let God choose the timing of things because truth spoken at the wrong time is still damaging.)
The point? Well, recently, I have found myself caught between pursuing what I think is God’s best overall and ministering contently right where I am. I have been filled with thoughts of how things should be and frustrated with good people who also want God’s best, but may be coming to the same conclusions at a different rate than I am due to different circumstances in our lives. In the frustration at what I have perceived to be “stalling,” I have lost sight of some of the opportunities that are right in front of me and…well…ripe. Thankfully, I have surrounded myself with women who think differently than I do, are gifted differently than I am, and have shared their perspectives with me. Those women have each, in their own way, pointed out that (regardless of whether or not I am feeling ignored or stalled) that I have a unique voice and (whether I understand it or not) an audience that for some unknown reason hears me…connects with me…humors me? I don’t even know! But they are right!
So, that has placed me in a position where tension exists between reconciling what I dream for God’s people and the reality of where we are right now. I think that God wants us to desire his very best for everyone…to dream on behalf of his children that he loves…to rattle cages (my newest phrase that I can not let go of) where we have gotten complacent and comfortable so that we continue to put one foot in front of the other as we travel toward a God that loves us deeply and painfully. But at the same time, that is not the reality right now (and it is likely to be an agonizingly slow progression) and I am called to be obedient and a servant right now…right here…in the mess. To my dismay, each of these two situations has been working against the other recently and has had me a bit bound up and paralyzed in certain areas…but God is very faithful to reveal truth to me (by speaking in small, simple words…and occasionally pictures since I can be a bit dense 😉) despite my awkward and bumbling attempts to honor him: This week, through working on a broken relationship with a girlfriend, I was able to hear truth from her…truth about the topic on which I am writing…truth that says that those dreams are what shapes my mission…they are the goal…and I am not responsible for achieving the goal…I am responsible for working toward it here and now. That probably sounds like Christianity 101 stuff to you but for me, it has been an unbearable tension that I had to fight against for the last couple of months. It has required me to stay constantly vigilant against unrealistic expectations and even imagined adversaries (because it took me to an ignorant place of “if we disagree, we are enemies.” A place that I used to live but have fought hard to get away from.) The bottom line of all of this rambling? I think we are supposed to hold onto both the God-given vision or dream AND, regardless of whether or not people around us are arriving at the same conclusions at the same time, have a loose enough grip on the dream that we can joyfully function in the messiness that is our reality.
So, how are you doing with this? Do you have a spiritual tension that you are wrestling with? Do you find it difficult when people don’t arrive at the same conclusion at the same time? If not, is your answer still no when the situation requires that your own progress is slowed or delayed in that area while you wait hopefully for others to draw the same conclusions? Have you ever fouled up the waiting portion of the process like I did in the beginning of today’s post? How did you handle it?
My prayer today is that we would have the wisdom and self-discipline to keep looking toward Heaven while lovingly and selflessly working in a place that is far from it: our messy, chaotic lives. Much love friends,