It’s been a while since I have sat down and written here. I’ve missed writing, this evening though is one of those evenings when writing becomes necessary. It is the means by which I breathe fresh air once more.
God has been faithful these last 9 months since we moved mid January. He has led us, He has provided and sustained us. His mercy and grace have been faithfully new each day. They have been needed daily, hourly at times in those months. He has humbled us by placing us among His people to encourage and equip one another to be disciples of Christ in all of our lives. That means there is no hiding our own lives from God and holding back parts. If we are calling others to live their whole life rooted and set on Christ then we need to do the same. And that means life doesn’t always look the way we want it to look. It doesn’t feel the way we would like it to feel.
We were away this weekend thanks to friends opening their doors to our children, to celebrate our 10th anniversary. I was struck on the way home how perfectly those 48 hours had mirrored our marriage. Meals, walks, conversation, being, joy and a deep satisfied sense of purpose soaking in Les Mis, hard honest late conversation, money angst when our bank card refused to work when we tried to book our ticket home and God faithfully providing, my skewed health making sure it got a look in. It was not a weekend detached from reality but a celebration of all of life. All of life that we are called to live for Christ and which we call others to do too.
At church recently we had a sermon from 1 John and I was challenged on the question of what it meant for Christians to love in a way others didn’t. For me the challenge I needed to heed in my life is that God’s love requires justice and mercy. And I realised that I can ‘love’ others but when seeking justice my anger blinds me to the act of mercy but seeks out revenge, it spills out in anger. It was unsettling to think that my ‘love’ I want to believe I am extending is God’s love but when the rubber hits the road there is only some desire for justice and an absence of mercy. That conviction has rocked me to my core this week. I don’t like to admit that anger is so readily to hand in me. I want to be (known as) generous, calm, unrocked, merciful. The reality is far from that. This is why I need the gospel, why I need the work of the Spirit in transforming me. I don’t have a framework for messing up and still being loved and accepted and of worth. Forgiveness is real for others but I so often forget it is for me too. No wonder my love is filled with anger because I so often forget the love given to me from God and so the ‘love’ I share is flawed and hollow too often. Too much I try to walk this road of faith on my own strengths and merit, too much I try to love from being a good person and getting it right and doing the right thing to justify my anger.
And what I don’t get in all of this is knowing friends who love deeply, who do desire justice and mercy and do not share my faith. For me the only answer comes back is that we are all made in the image of God and so all have the capacity to love as God would have us love and some seem able to do it without knowing Him in ways I understand. I am thankful for their example and humbled.
In these past 9 months there have been more times than I want to admit to of asking God for a break. When we feel there is nothing left to be stretched yet further. At times to be left with less and less than we started in regards to physical and emotional resources. To know that deep deep peace that passes understanding that says ‘you are right where I want you to be’ and to feel right at home like we had not felt for some years. To have seen far too much of the hospital at MK and our local surgery and know there are more visits to come. To feel not on the fringes of community but be in the early days of belonging. To have felt turned inside out more than was possible as God’s word has brought us to our knees, has asked more of our family than we might has said we were willing to offer. To have asked more questions and shed more tears. To be afraid of my body’s fragility and frustrated by how it seems to have decided to behave and according to the consultant at my last appointment its uniqueness. Being medically unique was never something I was aiming for!
To have realised that calling others to whole life discipleship only works when your own whole life is in Christ and discovering that is far from the reality in my own but grateful that the work of redemption is a life long journey this side of eternity and was not a one stop deal that I missed out on. So my desire is to being willing to be honest and vulnerable when desperately trying to hold it together or run for the hills; and to sit with the unfinished stories of our lives alongside others and their unfinished stories. And sometimes that is going to mean our threads get caught up with each other and in a tangle and need sorting and other times we have some to offer gladly. Some stories break us, some spur us on, some challenge us and call us on, others witness to ours and us back to them.
Having the courage to write this is far easier than having the courage to live it, but writing it and placing it where others see it is for me is placing a marker to say to myself this I was what I long for even if running away still feels a better idea. It’s going to mean rooting myself deeply into the gospel, allowing God’s word to shape me, convict me and encourage me. It’s going to hurt, its going to mean immense joy, its going to mean life as Jesus meant us to live; full.