The Four Silhouettes -a story of transformation ~Joelle Warden

We are the four silhouettes
Shame.
Darkness.
Undefined.
Nondescript.
We cower in the corners under pictures and paintings of beautiful faces.

We are the four silhouettes.
To never converse and never wake.
Without color, we are nothing.
Only shadows.
Only dreams.
So much detail wasted on black and white.

We are the four silhouettes.
Good for nothing, bad for everything.
“Look down in shame, Darkness.”
“Face toward the dark, Undefined.”
“Be black and white, Shame.”

“ALL OF YOU BE QUIET!”
Nondescript’s first bold words.
“We must stand tall.”
“One day we will get the color we deserve.
We will become who we are meant to be!”

We are four silhouettes.
Proud and free.
Who wake at the dawn and sleep under the stars.
Bold and wild.
True beauty.

We are the four silhouettes.
Transformed and complete.
“We are not just black and white.
We are B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.”

We are the four silhouettes.
Proud.
Light.
Understood.
Detailed.
We stack a top the others for all of time.

Upon seeing this image my 10 year old daughter wrote this. She continually stuns me.
PicCollage

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At three thirty in the morning I woke up to the sounds of a very loud crash and my daughter’s scream. My wife and I rushed into her room and saw a box of tools had fallen from on top of a crate they were left on. We had been working on painting and building a loft for her and these were some tools we hadn’t put away yet. After picking up tools and consoling our daughter, order returned and she and my wife went back to sleep. I, on the other hand, did not. Too much adrenaline I suppose. After a few minutes trying, I knew I wouldn’t be able to. So I looked at emails, Facebook and then decided to get out of bed and be productive. I typed a chapter of my daughter’s draft for her new book (very suspenseful). I am her secretary. She pays in hugs and kisses. Priceless.

It was about five o’clock. I decided to go to the gym. I knew it opens at that time. After making countless jumps shots (okay you could have counted them) and my knot in my neck bothering me, I decided to go get coffee and bring something back to the two loves of my life (not including Jesus, my greatest love).

They were still sleeping. It was about six now. So then I started writing some thoughts for a very crucial chapter in my new book. This one is a fiction, an allegory of the journey of transformation. I got in a good groove. I am really starting to enjoy the writing process.

Interruptions are an interesting spiritual phenomenon. They can be small, like being woken up in the middle of the night by a loud crash or they can be big, very big, like the diagnosis of a disease or an accident leaving someone paralyzed or a request for some help. The question is: Is this interruption a problem or an opportunity?

Jesus was interrupted. There is the story of him being led to go to the home of a child dying. Needed to get there quickly, at least in the people’s mind. But he was stopped by a large crowd pressing on him. Frustration for the parents wanting him to hurry. A problem to them. An opportunity for another. A woman touched his robe and was healed. And later Jesus handled the issue with the dying girl. (Mark 5:21-43)

I want to handle interruptions with a spirit of trust and hope and even love. Don’t you?

Grant me grace in the times of interruptions and grace to follow your lead. Help me surrender my resistance.

th

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.
Anais Nin

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18

bagonhead

“When you’re trapped inside a social system where you constantly have to work for your own superiority and can slip into inferiority in a moment, you are inevitably very insecure. That is the honor/shame hierarchy. God doesn’t participate in such a system.” Richard Rhor

How do I tell you my friend, my neighbor, my wife, my daughter, my brother, my sister that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, forgiven, accepted, brought in, empowered, loved?

For that is my calling. That is primary what God wants of me: to pass on to you what He has given me – to pass on truth and grace. Once you understand, then that’s your calling too.

Many times I don’t know how to do it and I feel so helpless. I don’t feel smart enough to figure out how to get beyond your resistance. Sometimes I am lost in my own insecurity and am afraid to try. But in my heart of heart I so want to. For when I meet you there in that true place of worth and forgiveness, acceptance, brought in, empowered and loved, it is like being in the light and we have true connection with one another and for that moment I am living with you in the real, not in the dark.

What I found is the only way I can fulfill such a duty is by letting my brokenness lead, the brokenness He has reached in deep to meet me there, to reduce me and inso freeing me.

Sometimes grace is wonderfully terrifying.

I hope to meet you there.

th-4

“Oh I will show them through this drill. They will get it.”
“Oh they didn’t get it. Got to try another drill. Then they will get it.”
“They still didn’t get it. Why didn’t they get it. Ok try something else.”
“Argh! They still didn’t get it. They will never get it. Why try something else. Just accept they won’t get it.”

This same internal dialog can occur for the counselor, teacher, mentor, pastor, and even parent. It is the frustration of someone who thinks they have the ability to control the outcome of another’s development.

Coaching, like teaching, mentoring and even parenting can seem like a course of futility. I am reminded that such frustration is not the issue of the one I try to coach. It is my issue of control. “If I do this, they will do that.” That is a control issue.

Coaching is a matter of serving. It is a matter of coming along side in the journey of learning. It is giving perspective, guidelines, encouragement and structure. But we don’t use those to control, thinking we can control the outcome. They may not get it.

But by grace, they do get it. Not of a work of the coach no matter how clever and wise but in some moment of mystery it happens. They develop because it is in the divine design of human development. That development will not happen without an environment that gives structure and support. But we delude ourselves if we think we with the right structures and supportive actions will make the results we want in a young person’s or anyone of any age’s life. So as coach or counselor or pastor or mentor or teacher or parent, we only act out of serving, cooperate with and have faith in the Grace Designer and stay the course because we are responsible to lead and called to care and remind ourselves that we are not in control of results.

Trust and Obey as the old song goes.

th-4

“It’s been said that “leadership is best caught not taught.” There’s of course a few lessons about leadership we can pick up from a lecture or conference. But these tend to focus on the outward aspects of leadership that get too much airtime—the methodology, the look, the 10 steps. The inward stuff of leaders, without question, must be caught. You can’t just be lectured to about humility, authenticity, brokenness, honesty, integration, wholeness. These things must be modeled. The best teachers of leadership, therefore, take their students past the classroom and invite them on a journey of discovery, where they are compelled to go deeper and explore the crevasses and caverns of their soul. These teachers can make this invitation because it’s a journey they themselves have undertaken many times. Jon Warden is preeminently this kind of teacher. He is one of the best instructors I know who actually journeys with students, and not just teach at them.” (Regarding Jon’s leading pastors on exploring their brokenness in a mentoring modular for pastors)

Dihan Lee
Associate Pastor of Grace Covenant Church
Lead Planter of Renew Church LA

scubs

“Jon’s work with the students in our chapter is analogous to an expert surgeon. He knows exactly what our students need in order to be a more healthy disciple of Jesus and knows exactly where to make the precise cuts. He lets us bleed just enough to get rid of the poison and then graciously introduces who Jesus is in a way that binds the wound and gives glory to God. He knows how to lead students into difficult places and cares enough to show students the light of Jesus. He is a fearless speaker, knowing that his words will cut deep, but knowing that the healing of Jesus is worth it. He is also thorough and accommodating, doing what is necessary in order to fulfill the call that God has given him in any given retreat or conference setting. I would highly recommend him to any group that needs to experience the deep healing of Jesus.”
HC Yang
Campus Staff Member
Northwestern University InterVarsity

speaking

Last fall (September) we invited Jon to visit our community and spend a weekend teaching material from his newly released book, “Resisting Grace”. Jon facilitated a three day retreat (Fri pm – Sun am) where he taught four times, but also made himself available for appointments on Saturday afternoon.

Jon is a creative and life-giving teacher. Sharing from deep encounters with Jesus throughout his life of suffering and struggle, Jon painted for us through visuals, through hands on exercises, through personal story and Scripture, a vivid and compelling picture of God’s grace that has left a lasting imprint on those who attended the weekend. Jon offered us helpful paradigms around words like brokenness and resistance that gave us language to talk with each other about why we struggle to experience and receive the grace of God. We are thankful for our time with Jon and highly recommend him to any community looking to grow in their understanding of God and His marvelous grace.

Joshua Koh
Congregational Pastor
Vancouver Chinese Alliance Church (Canada)

Our compromised solutions sabotage any pursuit of meeting our needs.
boxed
Need of acceptance/Need of belonging/Need of competence
– compromised solution of people pleasing may result in be popularity but not for who you are but for the image you put forth, sabotaging the only way to get acceptance, the risk to be real.
– compromised solution of withdrawing (avoid rejection) may result in not facing potential rejection but left with being on the outside, sabotaging the only way to belong, take the risk to join.
– compromised solution of critical control (pointing out other flaws or manipulating others to do what you want) may result in inflating your sense of power but left in not knowing true authentic giving and receiving.

Sunday morning was traumatic for the Warden family. It was triggered by us simply being a few minutes late and Joelle not having a seat by her good friend, Emily, at church service. Didn’t know it at first but she was clearly visibly upset. Upset enough that MJ took her out of service to find a quiet place alone with her to try to comfort and talk to her. Fifteen minutes later I proceeded to look for them. They were far in the outskirts of the building, sitting on two seats in a very big hallway, all alone. Joelle was feeling left out and didn’t want to go to Sunday School class because she was too upset.

Actually it was kind of a long weekend of feeling left out for her. That night before her friends had a sleepover without her (not because she wasn’t invited but simply because 1. Joelle doesn’t do sleepovers well and 2. She had a basketball game the next day and I didn’t want her all tired out.). She did okay with not having the chance to be with them and she did get to hangout with them until she had to go home. But I think there was leftover residue of feeling left out. So when she saw her friend surrounded and no chair open for her in the front of the service, she fell apart.

So what does a parent do? Do we force her to go to class no matter what she feels? “Buckle up and get in there. That’s life deal with it”
Do we try to reason and empathize endlessly, hoping she will get it and be rational enough to go back on her own? “Emily didn’t know you were at church and so she didn’t know to save you a seat.”
Do we just skip it and let her sulk in the hallway? Or just pack our bags and go home?

So it dawned on me to simply reflect back to her how what she was doing was sabotaging any possibility of her getting what she wanted. That is, that she wants not to be left out and rather to be received and accepted by her friend. I had to unpack that a bit with her and told her that if she chose to withdraw and stay away from class and Emily she would not be able to feel belonging and wantedness. Her solution to deal with her hurt was interfering with what she most dearly longed for. If she stayed in the hallway, she sabotages any possibilities, though it may be less risky. If she went to class, it would be more risky but the possibility to get what she longed for was there.
She resisted quite a bit. She still didn’t want to go. But we were not going to sit and sulk with her. MJ and I would go to service and get her after it was done.
She did agree to go to class, with fear and trembling. Once in, her friend Emily welcomed her, as did other classmates, and she was no longer was left out.

We often resist the means of getting our deepest longest met because of the level of risk and connection to the pain of an unmet need much like a ten year old would do. Risking is scary. Acts of faith can be filled with fear. At the door to the Sunday School class MJ very patiently waited with her until she could open the door and go in. I gave her a big hug of encouragement and love. Then she walked in.

It is hard to navigate with our children such places of authentic struggles and not teach them our own compromised solutions. It’s hard to be brave ourselves in risking by standing in the vulnerable place. But that is the place of grace. That is the place of true possibility of deep heart needs being touched. The risk is that there is no guarantee. Needs may not be touched, may not be met. Only possibility.

The alternative in our compromised solution has no possibility at all.