This journey with Jesus is no joke. It has ruined me and caused me significant heartache, both in beautiful ways and in really difficult ways. I have been so continuously pruned and cut apart that I'm not sure there's much of me left....which I think is the point. I keep dying to different chunks of myself that I thought I needed.....parts that I thought defined how I was supposed to be as a Jesus-follower, how I was supposed to think, how I was supposed to love.
So I keep dying, which is really hard, and I don't like it, but I do it........for the King......
Totally makes sense, huh?! Ha.
I called my brother yesterday morning. It was one of those phone calls that I could only have with him. I didn't have to explain my way of thinking or the filter that I grew up with or the way current ministry and life situations were shaping my heart and brain processing. He just knew.
I sobbed as I told him my morning conversation with my husband. It was a rough one. There weren't any raised voices....in fact, I didn't speak at all....I just listened. My husband had come toward me with beauty, grace, gentle challenge, invitation and lovely caution......he knew it would hit me hard. And it did.
What was the conversation? Well, it was regarding me and my personality and my constant "challenge" of others - that I continuously call everyone toward integrity, and right decisions, and Kingdom courage, and honorable choices, and repentance, and change, and growth. All of this is good.....but Chris' gentle challenge toward me was that not all of it is good for every single conversation with every single person. Every. Single. Time.
I am a strong woman. I am stubborn about lots of things and wildly passionate about Jesus. I am a "Ready, FIRE, Aim" kind of personality and I don't like slow decisions or having to wait for forward movement....that movement should have been done last week, people! And Jesus called us to be church planters (ugly cry and uncontrollable laughter here)! Definition of church planting: noun: A SLOW insane adventure/call that takes immense patience, unfathomable trust, lots of time, SLOW relationship building, SLOW decisions, SLOW progress, alongside crazy fast character growth from God-pruning.
Being a pastor in a church plant situation gives me beautiful access to lots of new relationships, and those relationships turned friendships usually end up coming to Chris and I with "stuff" that we can pour into, counsel and help......and most of the time, my first reaction is to act responsibly and make sure they hear the next "obvious" step......because obviously I have everything in life figured out. Ha!
This is a VERY real weakness in me.........lame sauce.
So back to my brother, Ryan, and our conversation. I brought up the example of a shepherd and sheep and that the shepherd helps the sheep get to where they need to go. He agreed, but had questions for me about how a shepherd does that.....and what about the ones that wander off? I also shared the story of Jesus at the well, Jacob's Well, with the Samaritan women, and how He called her to a new life, a changed life. My brother asked, "That's a great example of Jesus. How did Jesus do that with her?"
I began to cry again as I answered. "Well," I said, "He offered her Living Water (Himself), which would result in a life that was transformed by His grace and restoration. He invited her toward healing, and beautifully challenged her current lifestyle, because Jesus can do that so well, and then He let her choose...."
He invited. He offered. He graced. He challenged. He gave her the choice. And then He waited.
More tears. So I keep dying, which is really hard, and I don't like it, but I do it........for the King......
Chris is a person of invitation. I am a person of challenge. Together is where the magic happens, though. Our hope is to continue toward the beautiful and messy dance of bringing those two gifts together by allowing the King to shape our gifts, heal our weaknesses, challenge us toward healing, and listen to His lead. That dance is really hard to learn. We've got the first 8 steps figured out......the rest of the dance we are still learning. So I keep dying so I can learn the rest.
Ryan texted me after our conversation with healing words. "It is for freedom He has set us free. But I know what you mean....I'm impatient too. Want things to change now! The thing is....He's called us on a journey. And it's maybe not as much about the timetable (or even the destination) as it is that we are simply ON the journey. Whether with solid or faltering steps or not. On the journey....that's what He wants. And that's what you are on, my dear sis. You are on the journey! Rest. In. Him."
This journey with Jesus is no joke. It has ruined me and caused me significant heartache, both in beautiful ways and in really difficult ways. I have been so continuously pruned and cut apart that I'm not sure there's much of me left....which I think is the point. I keep dying to different chunks of myself that I thought I needed.....parts that I thought defined how I was supposed to be as a Jesus-follower, how I was supposed to think, how I was supposed to love. With the removal of more of me, I am beginning to catch glimpses that there may be a simpler place for me - a place to breathe in and out and find rest in who I am in His shadow.....all He is asking me to DO is respond to His invitation and He will DO the rest.
So I keep dying.