Religion tells us what to do with the realities we face. God gives us the strength to change those things that can and must be changed. And God helps us to confront those things that happen unfairly, for no good reason.God helps us deal with what is beyond our control, what can’t be changed.
I used to think that we are where we are for a preordained reason. But I no longer believe that is true. We are where we are, and it is up to us whether there is a purpose in it or not. Places, circumstances, and encounters aren’t inherently meaningful; we make them meaningful, we give them purpose.
Hard to define, even harder to truly explain, but when I am in need of it, the clarity of this grace is sharp and penetrating.
Grace fills in the gaps of my utter humanity, my well-worn flesh as it were. Grace is the feisty thread refusing to let go of its task of holding my tattered stuffing in place, velveteen rabbit that I am.
Grace is old wisdom found in rooms down in the basements of empty churches.
Grace is me, slowly but surely, coming to accept and embrace the truth that my faith is messier than most. It is hard to pin down but like an invisible thread, it is woven throughout my being. Yes, my sins are great, and the every present threat of my addictions even more so at times, but my recovery is more and more velveteen real each day precisely because of this grace that fills in the gaps.
But there it is again: grace filling the gaps; making up the small measure that is my faith; filling the cracks and crevices of my days; being the hope in my hopelessness; the light in my darkness; the beauty in my supposed ugliness.
While circumstances bat me around like a whiffle ball in a hurricane, grace is the sure-footed love of God. This God who tells me I am loved no matter what – regardless of feelings or facts; this God who chooses me, draws me in, and loves me tenderly and more faithful than any words could describe.
This God of grace who fills in my gaps, leaving me sated so that I may sate the thirst of others like me, this God do I give thanks to with all my heart.
I read this at Heather Kopp’s great blog, Sober Boots, so I thought I would re-post it. It was originally written by Mark Nepo
Much of our anxiety and inner turmoil comes from living in a global culture whose values drive us from the essence of what matters. At the heart of this is the conflict between the outer definition of success and the inner value of peace.
Unfortunately, we are encouraged, even trained, to get attention when the renewing secret of life is to give attention. From performing well on tests to positioning ourselves for promotions, we are schooled to believe that to succeed we must get attention and be recognized as special, when the threshold to all that is extraordinary in life opens only when we devote ourselves to giving attention, not getting it. Things come alive for us only when we dare to see and recognize everything as special.
The longer we try to get attention instead of giving it, the deeper our unhappiness. It leads us to move through the world dreaming of greatness, needing to be verified at every turn, when feelings of oneness grace us only when we verify the life around us. It makes us desperate to be loved, when we sorely need the medicine of being loving.
One reason so many of us are lonely in our dream of success is that instead of looking for what is clear and true, we learn to covet what is great and powerful. One reason we live so far from peace is that instead of loving our way into the nameless joy of spirit, we think fame will soothe us. And while we are busy dreaming of being a celebrity, we stifle our need to see and give and love, all of which opens us to the true health of celebration.
It leaves us with these choices: fame or peace, be a celebrity or celebrate being, work all our days to be seen or devote ourselves to seeing, build our identity on the attention we can get or find our place in the beauty of things by the attention we can give.
Mark Nepo is a cancer survivor, a poet, and philosopher.
“Surrender means laying down everything – including clarity – and trusting God to lead you.” ~ Nate Hanson
Well that quote just blows everything out of the water; all my preconceived notions of spirituality and what it means to know, love and trust God.
Because I want clarity.
I desperately pray for it almost every day. And it goes something like this: “please God, let me know for sure, without any doubt, that I am supposed to _____________ (fill in the blank).” Nate Hanson is telling the truth. Clarity is not what is needed as a pillar of the spiritual life, trust is. For if I trust God, that means that there is some level of love and knowledge therein; since I cannot trust anyone or anything unless there is some level of love involved.
So, today, I will not pray for clarity.
I will pray for my trust in God to grow. And that, my friends, frightens me…
I learned a little bit more about my inner world today: that the opposite of TRUST for me is a place called Guilt and Shame. When the latter is absent, the former is present and operating.
So, when I do not trust people, it is mostly because my feelings of guilt and shame are stronger than my feelings of trust.
…and that just opens up the whole can of worms about trusting God, or myself even before I can answer the question of whether or not I am going to trust you.