I once had this image of Jesus praying, knowing he was going to physically hurt and face death.
I imagined him on the cross, knowing that he was going to die and how, based on what we know about Christianity, he must have hung there with conviction that God prevails – life prevails…
…from the darkest days of winter come the lightest days of spring.
Carolyn Myss said in an interview with Oprah that she did not think humans were actually afraid of death, but moreso afraid of how they were going to die.
Jesus knew. It was going to be brutal, but all good in the end.
I used to think this was a generational thing, but the older I get, the more I realize adhering to a “God-given” concept is difficult. You can be a good person without being Christian. (Heck, you can probably even be a better person than some Christians. )
Believing whole-heartedly there is one way is not accommodating to a flexible, alternate world.
And, given the state of media and the flux of information, even feeling settled into one way you find mildly appealing can be a challenge. There is just so much to consider, all the time.
I hear people say, “I am not religious. I am spiritual.” But there is not always conscious alignment between outward living and spiritual self, necessarily.
In some of my experiences with people in either school of thought “you don’t have to believe in God to be a good person” or “I am not religious, I am spiritual”, I see an opportunity for ministry – for community – for service. Something that puts it out there and if the school of thought is really working for you, invite others in, saying, “YOU! Yes! You too could be enjoying this miserable day!”
Sometimes it’s the absence of gratitude I don’t understand, like shouldn’t we all honor that bigger intelligence that makes bees and galaxies?
And, that leads me then to the concept of “hope”.
I have grown to realize that I prefer to use hope as a noun “I have hope” as opposed to a verb.
Don’t “hope so” – have hope that it will be so. It’s supposed to be an anchor, anyway. (Hebrews 6:19)
People hope for new things but then spend time imagining every single possible obstacle or opposite result: “but my family”, “but my children”, “but my life”, “but my job” “but the bills”…
We all do this – we think of all the things that have to change or move for that thing that feels good and right to happen and it makes us sad.
We lose the hope.
HYPOTHETICAL SADNESS CHOKES HOPE.
I remember watching Lucy color on a sheet of graph paper. The page was covered with the exception of two cookies that she drew for me when I came over to sit by her. What I found fascinating was that when she offered to “draw me some cookies”, she drew them directly on top of something else.
Personally, I would have been strongly inclined to use a blank piece of the paper or start a new sheet.
After all, it is a new picture – a new image – a new concept – a new idea…
How could that new idea possibly take shape and be whole on top of another idea?
But… see, that is just it!
Your life is completely layered. Year after year, you layer: memories, lies, challenges, successes, goals, ideas, relationships lessons, skills, failures, loss.
Watching Lucy color on top of color, cookies on top of snakes, I realized my personal grief, sadness and stress tend to come from wanting fresh starts, clean slates, new beginnings so I can change.
I crave resolutions, birthdays, milestones as times to rebuild and realign my identity to a newly discovered aspect of my purpose or a new habit or practice.
I found peace in all those colors, assimilating them along with the years of my life. All of my experience I wish I could erase because I would do it differently? I know now that within those experiences are my lessons which have led to subsequent successes.
I know that the times my strengths were undervalued or underused propelled me to where I am now: valuing and using my full set of my capabilities as much as humanly possible.
Why do I want to wipe those clean?
Grace is acceptance – acceptance is peace.
This picture to me is grace: draw something new on top of what already exists.
No more guilt-debt, wishful line-erasing, wasteful paper… just keep coloring.
Love the layer and layer the love.
So think about that for a little bit. I’m going to go to sleep.