The second part to my dry places to land entry was going to be based on spacious places. Then I heard a talk on Sunday that changed my follow-up response. Funny, because I’m writing today about perspective change or “adjusting your stance” as the speaker described it. I’ve always been one that learns through experience – guess I shouldn’t be surprised! In my efforts to try being more flexible, here goes….
To recap Part 1, I brutally described pain, suffering and trial along with the raw emotions that flow from them. The piece was a little “down in the dumps” I admit, but wanted to convey the desolateness of the pits we can face as humans. Today I hope to shine a little light and talk about how struggles can change two important things: 1) our perspective and 2) our priorities (points taken from the talk I heard a few days ago).
I have started to see glimpses of fruit from suffering in my life. It’s not so much that my situation has drastically changed, but my heart and mind have been radically transformed. We can’t always change what comes at us but we can change how we walk through, process and respond to life. A renewed mind is a very dangerously wonderful thing. I’ve slowed down, given myself grace and received more grace because of it. The inexpressible and glorious joy I’m currently experiencing is a product; I’m convinced, of such changes. I’m not being overly dramatic either when I say I don’t think I’ve ever (in my life) felt or enjoyed life in the way I currently am.
Unfortunately my hope offering also comes with a disclaimer. In my experience people don’t just drift into change. As humans, whether we like it or not, enjoy and become accustomed to routine. To combat the urge to stay stagnant we must choose to press in. Press in and press on in whatever way is presented to us. Whether it be waiting, moving forward or sitting in our bathrooms sobbing for a while. That very place, I’m convinced, is where we overcome our fears, doubts and pain. Our minds are renewed and we are eternally changed.
“Once I’m ready to change, the last thing I want to do is patiently endure the consequences of whatever it was that caused me to want to change in the first place.” (Dr. Gregory Jantz)
It can be testing when we receive ample practice in the area of enduring. Unexpected fears can stir up. I feared repeatedly letting out my anger and sadness because I thought the pain would be too much to bear if I let it all go. One thing let out led to another. It reminds me of the Biggest Loser TV show when overweight contestants are pushed to their emotional limits. Barriers and fear are torn down through the process of extreme exercise. Fear is paralyzing and hinders the growth process.
“Swallowing our pain is a very costly way to live our lives” (Stasi Eldredge).
Trying to control life isn’t the answer either (I futilely tried that remedy multiple times). The backdrop to lasting fruit is exemplifying faith in the unseen and unknown. Moses wouldn’t have chosen to lead the Israelites in their flee toward the Red Sea as the Egyptians hunted them down. Would any logical thinking person run only to be trapped by a huge body of water with no escape? He listened and pressed into the presented challenge against all fear and……. the waters parted.
I must warn that when we start pressing in things may seemingly get worse before they get better. Not to crush all forms of hope and celebration, but after victoriously walking through the Red Sea the Israelites wandered in the desert for three days without finding water (Exodus 15). But again, pressing in and having faith, water was provided. No formula exists for the process. (I know, some days I wish I had a life instruction manual too!) Our minds are a powerful thing. Sometimes it can be the barrier between us and our freedom. Don’t settle for less.
I cannot explain how valuable the above process has been for me (remember I’m saying this now that I feel a little better physically – it’s not like a trip to Disneyland). I view life and myself differently now. I know it isn’t easy, and in no way have it mastered myself, but we must validate our experiences by pressing in and see where that takes us. I’m starting to believe it’s worth it.
Job found his legacy through his grief experiences as well; the latter half of his life was much more enjoyable. Suffering has the ability to deepen our character and clothe us in gifts we had little of prior to our difficulties (Streams in the Desert, p. 374). I wouldn’t be writing this very moment if it weren’t for the agonizing gifts of the refining process.
“Along unfamiliar paths I will guide you.” (Isaiah 42:16)
Is there something you are being called to press into? It could be anywhere from the going to go to bed earlier, making a sit down family meal tonight, eating healthier, exercising more, allowing yourself to have more fun, taking a risk, addressing your insecurity or something you’ve put off for a while, or facing a wound/wounds from the past. Don’t force it, but see and listen to what comes. Please feel free to share your thoughts/experiences if you feel inclined.
http://undertheapricottree.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/no-shame-in-stillness/ (a helpful blog post I read today on stillness – a new perspective for many of us!)