My husband and I have a running joke about the hill at the end of my childhood driveway. The first time I mentioned the hill he laughed out loud at my reference to what is notably a rather small incline. For years now he will approach my Mama’s house teasingly letting off the gas and acting as if our vehicle can barely make progress up the “steep” gravel path.
Why this discrepancy? We’re both adults with the brain capacity to logically decipher the gradient of the land approaching my childhood home. I swear as the drive curves there is an incline that should be referred to as a hill.
I sought reinforcements for this blog and my sister just texted me, “Yes, significant incline. Especially when you have a backpack filled with books and are carrying a clarinet case.” My mom chimed in as well, “Ha, or carrying a child.”
Andy, my dear husband, has mostly driven up that path. On the rare occasion, he has walked it with adult legs on a casual day probably amidst Christmas cheer flooding his dear ole heart. Just like my sister, I have the experience of being a small child with short legs after a long day of school followed by a hot bus ride.
We all bring unique insights into common experiences. We may even go through the same difficulty but bring a different vantage point. When we disagree and cannot fathom the thinking of another, it may be helpful to regroup and ponder some realities we must all recognize as consistent and irrefutable truth.
- We have been wounded and have wounded others. Without this realization, we cannot fully acknowledge or accept God’s healing work on the cross. Failing to understand our own woundedness leaves us missing the fullness of our redemption. Ignoring the reality that others are also wounded in completely different ways gives us stolen power to wound them further.
- Pain is paramount to our understanding of God’s grace. The everpresent nature of the fall leaves us incapable of any self-realization untainted by our own prideful analysis. Pain is a complex gift. It brings us to our end and shows how desperate our need is for true peace, fulfillment, joy, love, etc. God is every answer to any varying desire. However, his unquenchable love for us won’t allow stagnation in our spiritual growth or a misinterpretation of his character. So, we must learn and grow and become more like him.
- Healing comes through relationships. God created us in his image and therefore has called us to healing relationships. Even Jesus (who saw himself quite clearly) surrounded himself with the disciples because he found comfort in their support, encouragement, and even their prayer. If Jesus, the very son of God needed other people how silly is it for us to seek isolation and anonymity?
- Confession requires a wide lens. Most of us read 1 John’s instruction to live in the light and think about the deep dark crevices of our hearts we keep hidden from others. You know what I’m talking about, that thing you hope no one will ever know. I agree, this is a large part of John’s message and our prayerful desire should be to live in the light with intense amounts of vulnerability. As we widen the lens, we also must confess how the outside brokenness of the world has touched us. How the fall has left us personally weakened, needy, and limited. A failure to acknowledge these realities demands a withholding of humility and leaves us striving to live without our undeniable lack of ability to be God.
- The only way up is down. Jesus had to take on flesh, adorn himself with humanity in order to reach us. We could never come close to reaching him. Living faithfully today requires trusting in redemption through his birth, life, death, and glorious resurrection. He understands our limits because he created us to have them. His patience with his humble sheep provides grace in order to show us bit by bit the depth of our humanity. He uses our emotion as an anvil while he wakes us, bothers us, pressures us, demands we recognize our humility (down) in order to acknowledge his redemptive love (up). We can be brave as we work through those dark seasons that he is also faithfully filling us, guiding us, comforting us, and consoling us. Even impossibly difficult seasons are not in vain and hold significant purpose.
It’s easy these days to passionately proclaim our differences. We get caught up in whether or not there is a hill and forget the important reality of the driveway. We should want to be known for kindness and respect for others. A helpful catalyst may be to remember some of the core ways we are all very similar.