“Wherever you go, there you are.”
Have you ever heard this statement?
Often people believe that leaving
will offer them something new
or instill in them some sense of peace.
The truth is, you take with you whatever you avoided.
And often, unfortunately, the very thing you avoided is a chance for authentic transformation. Therefore your new community, new leader, new partner, new boss will inherit your old mess and old perceptions—the “old” you.
But the truth is, you can only experience new life when you practice and embrace the art of dying to yourself. As St. Francis prayed, “it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” If you want to experience new life, an eternal life, you must die to yourself.
Sometimes, the only way “out” is to go further “in.”
In to conflict.
In to conversation.
In to chaos.
On to the cross.
There has to come a point in your journey with the Lord when you finally take his teachings seriously enough to apply them to your life. You must actually practice forgiving, practice overlooking offenses, practice being kind, practice praying for your “enemies.”
Each dislikable person or moment is an opportunity for you to grow in love.
Think about it.
Have you ever been annoyed by folks in your church/workplace/home?
Have you ever not seen “eye to eye” with someone in your church/workplace/home?
Have you ever gotten offended by someone in your church/workplace/home?
Do you see things that can change?
Do you wish the person was more ___, less ___, not enough ___, too much of ___?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you’re in the right place!
“I think part of faith is having to be reconciled with a flawed community.”
As for the church,
the biggest struggle will not be getting people to attend or convert.
The biggest struggle will be for its members to take seriously the command of Christ: to love one another. And in a culture trained in the art of “fight or flight,” the most countercultural thing we can do as Christians is to “fight and stay.” The revolutionary act for us may not be the overthrowing or leaving unwanted people, places or structures and cleaving to a seemingly better person, place or thing … instead, the revolutionary act may be committing to stay, committing to giving each other the benefit-of-the-doubt and lovingly submitting to one another in reverence to Christ.
Remember this, disappointment and disillusionment are the first steps toward love. Oswald Chambers once wrote, “If we love someone, but do not love God, we demand total perfection and righteousness from that person, and when we do not get it we become cruel and vindictive; yet we are demanding of a human being something which he or she cannot possibly give. There is only one Being who can completely satisfy to the absolute depth of the hurting human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.” May Christ fill your heart with overwhelming love and grace and may you have the courage to fight and stay.
For wherever you go,
there are you,
and may God be there with you.
I invite you to pray this prayer from St. Francis with me:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.