I recently read a book that got me so excited that I felt compelled to write this blog and share a little bit of it with you. I'll start off by saying the book is Restless by Jennie Allen. I highly recommend it if you feel inclined to check it out. Or, if you'd prefer the Reader's Digest version or wonder why it gets me so darn worked up, then read on... There are about 100 lines I could pull from this book and paste around my house (as a matter of fact, I think I will do that) but let's start with this one:
The messiest waste of our lives becomes the most fertile soil.
Isn't that the truth. It goes along with one of my favorite sayings, "your misery becomes your ministry." After going through an abusive relationship and the death of both of my parents (and the resulting grief), I have found myself with a passion for helping others going through those same experiences. That's not a coincidence. God doesn't wish bad things on us but He does make good come from them. And usually it is the hardest, yuckiest, messiest stuff that has the potential to create the most good.
You long to give the world what you didn't receive.
The ugly truth is I experienced disappointment and heartache with both my domestic violence and grief experiences and I'm not the only one. Which in turn, has fueled a fire for me to provide what I was missing to others.
Another thing that I've talked about a few times since my mother's passing in September is the "new perspective" I have on life. It's not something that's easily explained but it feels like a secret that's been revealed or that a veil has been lifted and I've been shown what's really going on.
Allen explains it this way...
When you don't have anything or anyone else on Earth, all of a sudden God starts looking really good. Something about us needs to long for heaven.
With suffering comes a morbid but helpful perspective that life is moving fast and this Earth is not our home.
Suffering often jars us out of comatose lives.
Now you might think, none of these are exactly breaking news (especially if you are a Christian). But that's the interesting part. When you go through an experience of intense suffering like the loss of a loved one, it's like someone has literally changed the way the world looks. Everything that seemed "normal" just a day or two before seems not only trivial but almost out of another realm. Television, Facebook, shopping, coffee, the randomness that is "everyday life."
The morbid but helpful perspective Allen refers to is just that. You have an INESCAPABLE feeling that our time here is A LOT shorter than we realize and we need to really get a grasp on what is important while we are here.
So what is that exactly? Well for starters, LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Not in a just-words kind of way. REALLY, truly love one another by making time for each other, sharing experiences, offering help, giving forgiveness and lending support. Unfortunately, these days a lot of us take a more "detached" route of loving from afar because it is easier and quicker.
Allen says, instead of doing the difficult work of loving them, we piddle. We waste the precious time we have.
It is easier to survive this life on the surface, brushing up against people gently, rather than doing the mess of intentionally loving them. Love takes risk. Loves takes forgiveness and grace. Love takes effort, time and commitment. You commit not to bolt when it gets hard.
How many times have you pulled away from a relationship because it was getting too hard? It was painful, complicated, confusing or frustrating so the EASIER thing to do was back away. But is that the right thing? Certainly if you were in a situation that was physically harmful or life threatening. But in all of our relationships... friendships, siblings, parents, coworkers... do you take the easy way out?
Love is an active process and we can't be lazy.
Quit waiting for people to pursue you. They won't. Pursue them. (This is my mantra lately.)
Initiate. And when you come together, initiate depth.
Seriously, it's like this girl was inside my head. I hate how "busy" everyone seems to be these days when what they're so "busy" doing seems so unimportant overall. I wish everyone would slow down and take their time with one another. I wish things would be simpler. So the best I can do from where I sit is to pursue, initiate and encourage DEPTH.
All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial.
I love how Allen sums it up:
I have four kids, church, friends and dry cleaning and everybody around me seems to need to eat all the time. I have a pretty full time job in ministry and on and on like everyone else. But somehow I still manage to watch every season of Friday Night Lights and 30 Rock, use Facebook to keep up with people I haven't seen in fifteen years and take a lot of baths and a few naps.
YES! YES! YES! Think about how many times you've put someone or something off because you've told yourself (and them) that you are too busy, yet you still have found the time to surf Facebook, post to Instagram, watch Netflix and read your email. Those things are all okay to a certain extent but not when you are putting off real relationships or not looking for a bigger purpose beyond it.
I have kind of rambled and jumped around I know, but that's what happens when I get excited about something. And these were the just the "a-ha" parts that jumped out at me. And who knows, maybe something from this post will jump out at you.
I know not everyone will get what I'm talking about or agree with me, but like Allen says,
Pick your voices and then be prepared and willing to disappoint the rest.
With pleasure. ;-)