A couple of weekends ago I had the privilege of hearing Kate Bowler speak.
How beautiful to hear someone speak so openly about hardship, grief, imperfection, and the general messiness of life.
So often we are told things like ‘life is hard but we have Jesus’. I think when we hear that, we often interpret it as; ‘life is hard but you should hide the hard bits or how it’s impacting you because the only thing that matters is that you have Jesus and that trumps the very human experience you are having and you should focus on Jesus and not what you’re going through.’
It sounds holy, doesn’t it?
To put off our humanity and just focus on Jesus as our everything? To try to ignore what we are going through and let Jesus fill all the gaps? To disassociate from reality and pretend it’s all okay because Jesus exists?
But then we read the Psalms and Lamentations, and read that ‘Jesus wept’, and we ask ourselves, ‘why don’t we talk more about living in the tension that says this moment/experience/season sucks AND Jesus is WITH me IN it’?
It’s not about fast-forwarding or ignoring or downplaying.
It’s about Jesus being WITH you IN what you’re going through.
God with us.
There’s no caveat there.
[God with us*
*only when it’s good. only when we are performing. only when we deny the humanity God brought us into.]
It’s God with us.
No matter what.
In spiritual direction, we often talk about ‘sitting in the mud’ with people. When life is messy and hard and people don’t feel like their faith community knows how to hold space for them, the meeting of spiritual direction becomes this safe place to put off the facade and be real about it being hard. And in those moments, when we are ready, we can begin to ask questions like ‘How might you be experiencing God here, if at all?’. We *know* God is present. But we put this head knowledge into play by exploring it in the real life setting. We take the opportunity to explore how we might be experiencing Him here. Perhaps it’s moments of peace where tears no longer fall and you feel that deep breath of relief. Perhaps it’s knowing that God loves you that you are being reminded of this by people and scripture and nature as you sit in the mud of this hard time.
We dust for his fingerprints in the dust and grit and wasteland surrounding us in the hard times as much as we look for those same fingerprints in the glitter and shimmer dancing around us in the good times and as often as we look for His fingerprints on the windows and mirrors of our daily rhythms and monotonous moments of day-in and day-out.
We get curious about His presence.
God with us.
In the hard times.
In the joyful times.
In the times of grief and sadness.
In the times of laughter and dancing.
God WITH us.
ps- I purchased the devotion book, ‘Good Enough’ and it’s been so lovely to enjoy these short reads. Highly recommend.