awakening grace


When I was 27 I thought I was all that. Now I am 57. I am not that at all.
When I was 27 I worked on my muscles and filled my brain. Now I am 57. My muscles shrank and my brain leaks.
I was so filled with conviction. Now I am being filled with compassion.
Then so much to prove. Now I just want to leave a legacy.

The midway point between these two period was when my body gave out on me.
That was 17 years ago. It was a beginning of so much realized.

I love life.
I love living, reflecting, interacting, breathing.
I have hope, joy, peace, love.
And they remain with me, not fleeting like before.
Though I am so confined, I am so free.

I use to not love life very much.
I worried. I despaired. I competed. I compared.
I did love. I had joy, peace and even hope before.
The difference is I couldn’t seem to hold onto it.
They seeped through my fingers, leaked through my cracks.
Grace came like rain. But my container didn’t hold.
At the end I felt empty.

That’s the difference between then and now.
I can contain these, hold them – joy, peace, hope, love.
They stay with me more.
And things such as sadness and fear can exist with joy and hope.
Before they competed with each other. Now many times they work together.

I have less now but hold onto more.
I had more then but held onto less.

The journey with Jesus on one hand brought healing to my container so I can hold onto what’s poured into me.
On the other hand the journey of grace brought sacredness to broken places so I no longer need to strive.
The rain simply comes.
Return me to the freedom of a child and move me forward to the wisdom of the aged.

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Today, Joelle and I discovered the sapling we planted just outside our backyard had been mowed down. She was very upset. What do you think would be the common thing to say? “We can get another and plant it dear.” Right? That was my temptation. Fortunately I held off and just talked and listen and hugged as she cried for quite a time that afternoon.

In another situation, a gentleman in group shared a deep doubt and emptiness. I watched and listened as some group men sought to rescue him out of this deep hard place with reassurances and affirmation. It didn’t work. I didn’t think it would.

Being with another deeply can only happen when we can be with our deepest emotions of longing and loss.

We so naturally respond to others like we do to ourselves. We think helping is to fix feeling. That means get rid of them as soon as possible. Not only feelings but any deep dark thoughts of emptiness and self-doubt we try to give a response to dismiss it. In both, we attempt to shut down the angst of these very deep core wounds that get manifested with thoughts and feelings as life events occur. We see these expressions of deep stirrings as a fire that needs to be put out. So as good firemen, we come to the rescue.images

In men groups I lead I ask the question, “How comfortable are you with being with your own anger, sadness, fear, shame, self-doubts and emptiness?” We explore this and discuss what they try to do to detach from these deep feelings and thoughts. As they identify their compromised solutions we explore how they do something very similar in various relationships. Staying with it within ourselves very much parallels how we stay with others in those deep hard emotions and thoughts.

Staying is a waiting process. It is unhurried without an agenda to wipe anything away. It can be very uncomfortable. Growing in the deep places with others only can occur as we grow in staying in our own deep places.