Today is Good Friday. This season of Lent is almost over and I realize my ‘project’ didn’t get very far. But that’s ok, I’ll give myself some grace. I’ve been doing lots of thinking over this season but not a lot of writing. Here are some of my random thoughts:
I’ve been thinking about the life Jesus lived through the lens of compassion. He reached out to the marginalized, those rejected by society. In turn, they felt ‘safe’ to come to Him. Just look at all the beggars and lepers and cripples who called out to Him…and He heard their cries. I really like that about Jesus. It gives me hope. There is no one whose life is so broken that Jesus will not enter in and bring love and grace. I want to be like that. I want to love and accept people as they are, no matter how broken. I admit there’s still a lot of work to be done in this area – I still feel uncomfortable passing the panhandlers whenever I walk downtown. Sometimes I can look them in the eye but other times I pretend I don’t see them. They must feel like they aren’t even people sometimes and I feel sad about that. They need love and compassion, too. And I wonder, “What am I afraid of, that I cannot even look them in the eye and acknowledge their presence, their humanity?”
I’ve been thinking about the Truth. Jesus said, “I am the Truth…” I’m realizing there are times when doing the right thing is the hard thing. It’s not easy, handling the truth. Sometimes it would be much easier to ignore the issue, pretend it isn’t there, continue on with the status quo. But that would be denying the Truth. I think of a particular situation in the past year where I chose to speak the truth knowing that I would be rejected and considered the “bad guy” but knowing it was the right thing to do nonetheless. This didn’t make the situation any easier but I have a peace and resolve knowing I walked in Truth.
A couple of people have asked me over the last week what our family’s traditions are for Easter. I sheepishly admit that we don’t have any traditions. In the past I’ve hardly recognized Good Friday and Easter at all. When I was working at the hotel Good Friday meant a three day relief from the stresses of my job. I mostly wanted to rest and do as little as possible. Another house church group in our network had a tradition of celebrating Easter morning at a big rock overlooking the South Saskatchewan River and we would join them for that. But that’s really the extent of it. As I’ve been comparing myself to others I’ve wondered if I’m “less of a Christian” because I don’t practice any traditions. Why do we have traditions anyways?
My focus has been on living out God’s love and grace. As much as I can, I try to communicate to everyone (my children in particular) that they are loved and accepted, that there is grace for mistakes, that they don’t have to live in shame, that they can learn to accept themselves. I know for my own life that coming to understand these things unleashes freedom from shame and fear. I have much more peace and I feel more fulfilled and satisfied. And I know I couldn’t come to understand these things without experiencing them. So I aim to live these out so others can experience them and come to greater freedom and healing in their own lives. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Which leads me to something that’s been bothering me and I’m not exactly sure why. I hesitate to write about it because I know people who are following this – I don’t want to come across as judging them and if I do, I apologize. Over at holleygerth.com they’re talking a lot about “God-sized dreams”. She even wrote a book about it: “You’re Made for a God-sized Dream – Opening the Door to all God has for You“. Why does this idea of a “God-sized dream” rub me the wrong way? I don’t have anything against people dreaming and living out their dreams. I’ve done that. I acted in a Gateway play a couple of years back, I went up in a hot air balloon last Fall, I started my own event planning business and have more flexibility in my life. I think it’s great.
Perhaps I get the impression that people are declaring what they want God to do for them and demanding in faith that He does it. Why are they so determined to have their dreams fulfilled? And maybe that’s where I trip up. Because dreams aren’t always fulfilled. Sometimes life doesn’t happen how you want it to. Maybe I’m jaded and cynical when I hear talk of “naming and claiming”. Because my husband died when I was 29 and my oldest son has a mixed bag of mental health diagnoses. I’m not a stay-at-home mom and life has not happened how I had “dreamed” it would. And yet God is no less loving and full of grace.
Maybe that’s it. There was a time when I had dreams and my perception of God was based on those dreams being fulfilled. And when they weren’t it messed up my faith. I didn’t know who God was because I thought my dreams were His dreams so why would He take those away? There’s a line from a song, “There is freedom in surrender…” (Singing Over Me, by Kari Jobe). I know this to be true. When my husband died, I surrendered my life to God. I said, “You are God and I place everything in Your hands.” I let go of all my dreams and trusted God to get me through the shattering of them. And I believe God has done (and is doing) wonderful, amazing things in response.
The life I now have is much more awesome than I could have ever dreamed up on my own. Being married the second time around has been better than I imagined marriage could be. My children are healthy and happy for the most part. We live in a great old house that’s walking distance to downtown. Now that I have my own business I am able to spend more time investing in other people, encouraging them, sharing life with them (one of the main reasons I quit my job). My perspectives have changed on many things and I have a greater understanding of God’s love and grace and the Good News. I have more peace and less fear and shame. I couldn’t have dreamed this stuff up!
And maybe that’s my point. I don’t know all the awesome and wonderful things God desires for me. And who am I to tell God what they are? And as if He doesn’t know what they are!? So I don’t need to strive for and “claim” my God-sized dream. God is already taking care of that. I just need to be faithful with what He’s placed in front of me at this time. The more I grow the more simple it seems to me. Jesus really was right when He said that loving God and loving your neighbor summed up everything you need to know to live this life.
“But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
“Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21).