I came across this piece recently, written by a writer I am just discovering. She shared this on her Facebook page, along with the question:
Are you watching your life? Playing it safe and organized and tidy? Or are you inside the mess and thick and beauty of it?
Be all in.
A deepening understanding began to grow inside me of the lesson that I have been learning over the past year. The lesson that by trying to push away the things I don’t like, the things that scare me, hurt me, upset me or overwhelm me – in essence when I try to avoid having to deal with the ugly – I am closing the door on the very building blocks I need in order to move ahead.
By playing it safe or trying to block out the messiness, I am actually digging my way deeper into it. I am actually closing the door on the light at the end of the tunnel and digging deeper into the muck keeping me in the place from which I so desperately want to escape.
What does that mean? Well, I guess I have been realizing that I can’t embrace the wonder of my life if I am so busy trying to close my eyes to the messiness of it. I have to embrace the whole package and deal with each element of it in order to let it blossom into something beautiful ~ kind of like a lotus that emerges, clean, pure and beautiful from the depths of a dark, murky pond.
The fact that this message was essentially the same as the one given by Priscilla Shirer, a guest speaker at my Church last weekend, isn’t lost on me. Since I am not much of a believer in coincidences, I think this is a point God really wants me to take in. So let me try to unpackage it in a way that makes sense so that I can figure it out along with you.
In my life, I have, at many times, wondered why I can’t get out of my own way. I have often realized that the only thing or person holding me back is myself and I have struggled with why I couldn’t seem to ‘get it together’ to overcome some of the hurdles I was facing. These hurdles have been different things at different times, but have seemed as real and tangible as a giant boulder in the middle of the roadway.
So while I recognized this on one level, I didn’t really want to ever deal with the root cause of those hurdles – which was me. My limiting beliefs and/or behaviors, and the cause of them. I certainly didn’t want anyone else to see them – so I desperately struggled and fought to conceal them and cover them up; to present an image of success as a person – an image of peace, balance, positivity and happiness.
If no-one else could see that there was something wrong or lacking in my life, I was okay – and I wouldn’t have to face it either.
I ran from the hurdles instead of running towards them. And I blamed others as being the ones holding me back from going after them. That was safer. That kept things neater and more comfortable for me, living in my own skin.
Priscilla Shirer taught, that day, about one of the most well-known Scripture passages:
Supper for Five Thousand
When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.
Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.”
But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.”
“All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said.
Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.
Matthew 14: 13-21 MSG
Priscilla highlighted that in this situation, the disciples’ first instinct was to send the multitude of people away – let someone else deal with it. Their second instinct was that they didn’t have enough tools to deal with it – they were not equipped. They couldn’t or didn’t know how to face what seemed like an overwhelming task and they wanted to push it as far away as possible. They wanted to play it safe and keep it all organized and tidy – not get their hands in the mess of what seemed like an impossible task. But Jesus told them – ‘You do it.’
That brings to mind a saying we have, “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.”
So now, I wish that I could tell you this point applies to just one hurdle in my life. But it applies throughout my life in many different ways.
And I wish I could tell you that I just woke up one day, aware and clear on this truth, and that it was easy to just flip the switch – but it didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t easy.
It came as a result of a series of falls, each harder than the other, before I was forced to face the truth that I was sinking into a place I would never be able to emerge from, if I didn’t just stop exactly where I was, that very day, and start to deal with myself on a level that I had always wanted nothing to do with.
First, I had to face that things I didn’t want to admit were a problem, were a problem. I had to acknowledge that no-one else was responsible for my problems but me. I had to see that while there is a lot of good in me – there are a multitude of things that needed work; changing.
It was dark. It was deeper than I have ever been and it was a messy, muddy, murky pit of truth. Of feeling things I had tried to run from and push away. An emptying of numbness, and a flood of painful emotions. A ripping away of the veil of escapism and each day, seeing things more and more clearly for what they really are. It was really.very.hard.
I wish I could tell you its all behind me. But one thing I also had to face is that this process is a journey. That falling and failure are part of the process – that getting up, brushing yourself off and trying again and again are the ways forward.
And that as I grow through the process, I will face new hurdles and boulders I will want to push away or run away from, but that pushing through them would be the only choice I have.
What I can tell you is that it quickly became clear that stopping in my tracks and facing my multitude was going to be the empowering tool to actually moving forward to light.
By acknowledging that there was no way to it but through it, and turning to the One who called me to it, I have found strength to deal with it and to feel, all along the way, the joy of seeing the petals of who I am becoming rise slowly from out of the roily depths, blossoming, growing, stretching towards the light and the full bloom I was meant to be – to share the light of life, faith, strength and growth I am learning as I emerge – a Lotus. Pure. Clean. Resilient. Purposed.
Honestly, at times, I have felt completely alone and terrified. At others, He has sent angels in the people He surrounds me with, to watch over me, minister to me in my struggle to emerge from the cocoon that feels like safety but is actually a prison, holding me back, keeping me in.
At times I have felt like I was trying to burst through the worst type of thick, invasive, parasitic brush or weeds, struggling to keep me underwater, and at times I have run freely and joyfully toward a prize I could see quite clearly up ahead.
At all times, once the decision was made and the first step taken, I have seen the promise of that light of true life. And I have felt a strength I didn’t know I had, bolstered by God, as I walk, unsteadily at times, towards it – unwavering in the commitment that I will not turn back, because what lies ahead is so much better than anything I leave behind.
That single truth is crystal clear to me and that single truth keeps me going – forward, step by step.
I have no regret for having taken it – only the peace of knowing that, while I am still in the middle of rubbing and brushing painfully against all the sharp edges of this refining process, I like the parts that are emerging, piece by piece. I like the woman who is rising her head slowly but surely out of the mess, becoming better, stronger, sharper and happier than ever before.
So I guess the point of all this is to share that Jesus said that He came so that we could have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
In order to have the fullness of life that He is offering, free of cost, to us, we have to let go of life as we know it and we have to embrace the fullness of who we are, the good, bad and the ugly, so that He can meld and mold us into who He created us to be.
We cannot continue to live in the shadow of who we were created to be – we have to let go to the things we cling to so desperately out of fear of pain and of the unknown – and embrace the process of being shaped and bent and twisted and molded by the most loving Hands, into the beautiful flower that rises and lives abundantly as we were meant to live, in the fullness of the purpose for which we were created.
So stop pushing away the difficult stuff – stop right where you are. Turn around. Look at your hurdles – and run toward them. You can do it – He’s got you! It may be hard and it may be scary – but don’t let your life continue to be limited by safety and comfort zones. Let your life be shaped by strength and the wild freedom to live fully and abundantly as the masterpiece, uniquely created by the God of the universe – because that is exactly who you are.
A lotus. A beautiful masterpiece that the world can only gaze at, with pleasure and delight at your magnificence, as you rise from the brackish depths of dark, muddy waters, and you blossom and bloom – brightly, heroically, resiliently – for all the world to see.
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
Isaiah 43: 18-19 MSG
“If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new!”
2 Corinthians 5: 17 NCV
True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time
Ecclesiastes 3: 11 MSG