I don’t think we ever really outgrow the desire to be a part of the cool kids group. Or, maybe it’s just me. I want to feel a part of something-to belong-to be granted access to the secret handshake that will open doors for me. And, then again, maybe not. Accepted? Yes. Who doesn’t want to feel that? The rest? I am not good at fitting in because I question. I challenge. I pursue. All things that well meaning folks tell me to do less of; suggest that if I did less of these things that I would be more content, more accepted, more fun to be around. Great. Thanks. I’ll take those suggestions under advisement.
While those ‘suggestions’ may seem practical or like a quick fix so I can be like everyone else-be more acceptable-I have just one tiny observation…they go against everything I was created to be. I am put together a certain way. Believe me; I have tried to be more like the cool kids. To be happy, to smile more, to say all the right things, to dress the right way, to whatever the ‘right way’ and here’s the rub: it just. Isn’t. Me. It isn’t who God created me to be. I am searcher, a life-long quester, a look deeper into kind of person and to deny that is to deny that I was created with intention, that there is purpose behind my aching and defiant heart.
Scripture tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” but so often we believe we would be so much more wonderfully made in the image of someone else other than God. The ‘if only’s’, the comparisons, the ‘suggestions’, the doubts, they take our eyes off of Him, who created each perfectly, and turn our focus instead to the reflection in a tattered mirror of who we think we should be. Or, worse yet, who others think we should be.
The distractions of ‘should’ obliterate our opportunities-the work He puts in front of us by casting doubts, keeping us looking sideways instead of straight ahead and introducing hesitation. There is an old quote-it’s actually slightly misappropriated in its present form but the gist is dead on-“He who hesitates is lost”. When we open the door to doubt or compare what is before us to what others are accomplishing we hesitate, we stop in our tracks and then stumble back, stunned by our lack. What better tool in the arsenal of evil to stop the good work that needs to be done than preventing its beginning?
I wish I could say that in all my wrestling that I am motivated to action. I suffer from the deep paradox of humanity. I long to take a stand and make right the world where there is so much pain and destruction. I long to see the fall of the proud, loud-mouthed, and power hungry who bellow their righteousness for all to hear. My heart grapples for peace, clutching at vaporous strands. I do all of this yet forget to greet my neighbor in my distraction. I sup alone when I could surround myself with companions. I toss and twist when I could knead the bread of friendship. I hesitate.
So, back to wanting to feel a part of something… Every year I see people posting their ‘word’. They choose a word to be a challenge or a guide throughout the coming year. I’ve tried joining in but-me being me-a single word never seems to make the cut. This year was no different. As January loped along I saw word after word posted and couldn’t manage to home in on any particular one. I did, however, continually feel a nudge towards something different. Of course. Prayers were met with a response I kept denying because it wasn’t what I thought it should be-it was supposed to be a word. Instead, what I was met with was something entirely different. It was an action. And not even a single action-it was pressed on me to DO. Do something. Do anything except accept stasis. Take action. And, as is the wont of a creator who knows how to get under my skin, He planted a verse-repeatedly (which is no small task for little ole me who struggles with memorization) in my thoughts. Actually, more than one.
…act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God…
Micah 6:8. I love this verse. I also love the various translations that can be found as well
…to do what is right to other people[just], love being kind to others[mercy, loving-kindness] and live humbly, obeying[walk humbly with]your God. (Expanded bible EXB)
…to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God. (Good News Translation GNT)
…do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously-take God seriously (The Message MSG)
All similar-all meaning the same thing; all a call to action. Do. Be. Act. Live. Love.
He also placed on my sideways looking heart this verse:
…and do your best to live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 (CEV)
Some translations add
…if possible, so far as it depends on you…
…do your best to…
…as much as possible…
There is such grace in the addition of this phrase as it grants permission to accept we won’t do it perfectly, but that we live in such a way that we strive for this peace.
This second verse is the fly in the ointment for me.
“In so far as it is up to you” Yeah. What I take this to mean is that no matter what I hear, what I read, how I feel about what is going on, responsibility is still mine to conduct myself in such a way as to promote and live a peaceful path. Again, yeah. This is the harder task (and I speak for myself) because it is easy to take action when angry, out of retaliation and/or self-righteous indignation; but to act, live, and walk with a heart of peace in the midst of circumstances I may disagree with-in some instances vehemently-requires supernatural intervention. Thankfully I have a God that is up to the task.
So here it is February and everyone else has picked their word, begun their challenge and here I am just now figuring out what is written on my own page. It was probably there all along. Do. Be. Act. Live. Love. Not a single word, nor a single action, but a way of living. I am being called to change the way I live my ordinary. To grow my boundaries to include what is outside my own ideas of what I should be doing and realign my heart to what I must be doing; to resist hesitation and step-one footfall at a time-out into the extraordinary grace only He can provide to create the change He desires.