Journey of Love
It may have been senior year of college, the timing seems right, when I was walking down one of the sidewalks of main campus, probably around Riddick or Mann Halls and the words, "You care more about knowing my will than you care about knowing Me," were heavy on my heart. I won't go so far as to claim I heard the voice of God, but this conviction was crystal clear. I had been mulling over which path to take -- law school, a counseling program, missions work, creative writing school, or stay in engineering. I wanted direction. I wanted to know what to do with my life, and based on my prayer life, the only use I had for God was for Him to point me on the right path.
But what if the right path has nothing to do with our careers or hobbies? What if the right path is a soul journey in which our hearts find their way to the center of God's heart? What if all the others are simply the sights and sounds and tastes we experience along that journey, and what if our careers and friends are the avenues God gives us to express joy and love as we get to know Him more deeply and show Him to the world around us? Would that not revolutionize how we interact within our spheres of influence?
This idea feels dismissive of the time we invest in education, attaining skills, building connections with people, but I don't think it dismisses us from engaging in our world or from hard work. We have a God that labors to love us and pursue us. Jesus poured out his life, walked miles on his journeys so his path would intersect with people desperate for his healing. He validated and dignified people on the fringes by sitting with them in conversation. He fed, healed, and wept with people.
Pursuing a journey into the heart of Jesus doesn't deny the physical, but it draws out the deep spiritual meaning in all we do. It breathes life into these shells of lives we sometimes suspect we are living. Those in an endless rat race can look around and see the other rats and begin to point them towards the completely free, endless, delicious cheeses from Jesus. Those who feel like wasted talent as they wipe bottoms, do laundry and prepare food can look at Jesus who washed feet and fed fish and bread to thousands who may not have even thanked him. The journey is love that transforms everything. It doesn't dismiss us from the hard parts, but gives us a reason to continue through them.
Two Springs ago I was completely convinced that I was inadequate in nearly all areas of life. I felt like a fraud, I felt there was no eternal value to my job, and I was disappointed. More than anything, I was paralyzed by the apparent meaninglessness of it all. I dreaded the potential forty years of these emotions ahead of me. It turned out I was suffering from some pretty extreme anxiety, but these emotions that bubbled up didn't invent themselves. They were unconfronted whispers of lies that, in a time of weakness and a season of chaos, rose up and became my truth.
I was meant to be someone who did great things. I was smart and hadn't used my gifts. I had cashed out on a call to something adventurous for a simple, American hybrid urban-suburban life. My faith was nothing more than Sunday homage to a faith tradition. God had given up on me.
These were lies. Such powerful lies! They filled me with fear, guilt and shame. But God had not given up on me.
I now take medication for the anxiety, but medication can only mask those feelings. I have to do daily battle with those lies by drawing near to God. He makes it okay that I am small. He makes it okay that I haven't published research or produced something great with my academic skills. He makes it okay that I'm not the most stellar wife and mother. I am okay being small. I am okay being insignificant in the eyes of the world yet treasured by Him.
My approach to daily interactions is often prefaced by a simple prayer of, "Show me whom I am supposed to love." It happened yesterday at jury duty. I listened to a woman's great disappointment. I don't think love has to be a full gospel presentation upon first meeting. Love is listening, dignifying, being kind. It is caring with the affection of Jesus so that his or her heart is primed and thirsty for more. Love is encouraging students. Love is doing menial tasks for your child's teacher. Love is changing the coffee filter in the office. Love is letting that journey towards the center of Jesus's heart wash over and around and through you so that everyone else in your proximity gets wet.
This lifts up the soul like nothing else. We were made by love and for love, and when we love through Him, we find our purpose. All else are the details.