One thing I’m most looking forward to in this next season of our growing community is inviting friends to share some of their brilliant perspectives with us. Today, I’ve asked Paul Young, author of the Shack, to do just that.
Paul is one of the most Jesus loving, integrous & kind people I’ve ever met. His creative imagination is an essential part of the Kingdom. His thinking is so rich that his brain should file a tax return.
I love him and I know you will enjoy some of his thoughts about transitioning into 2016.
For me, last year began and and ended with funerals. Both funerals were for persons precious to me, whose place at the table on the inside will be kept until one day filled again by their presence.
With each year, there are more of these empty places. But there is an inner assurance that after death, my friends were met and embraced by Relentless Affection. It is the same inner rest that allows me to hear “fear not!” every time I receive an invitation to freak out.
We are surrounded by a world and media propaganda that tell us being afraid is the same thing as taking responsibility. That’s why it’s so tempting to allow fear make our choices.
What is empowering your choices in 2016 so far?
Is it control? Or is it trust?
Both control and trust are active and real responses to fear. It’s easy for us to say we choose “trust,” but in reality, we end up blending trust and control. I might do this by “trusting” my fist, or my gun, or my color, or my country, or my party, or my border.
But as Jesus says, if wisdom does not find expression in gentleness—a gentleness that can be intensely firm—it is a lie.
Funerals and memorial services remind us that we don’t have control. Yes, my plans are still great for the remainder of 2016, but I am deeply aware that a single cell in my brain could catapult me into a tomorrow not anticipated and that the only real life I have is the one I am living today.
But, I am encouraged by the general drift of my life, the movement toward integrity and authenticity, where my inner and outer worlds are coherent—a singular expression. I ask for forgiveness quicker, recognize my slides into reactionary habits sooner, and I am able to recognize that I am already more whole this year than I was last year.
I think that ‘finished work’ takes forever, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to celebrate at every point in the process.
Each year I pick a word or phrase, and then wait to see why.
It is only in retrospect that my life and experiences will give clarity to what those words meant over the course of a year. In 2015, the phrase was ‘Simple Trust’ and I could write a book now about what that word has meant to me.
For 2016, I picked both a word and a phrase. The word was “NO!” and the phrase was “Stand/Resist.” I think I have an inkling to what that word and phrase will mean to me at the end of this year, but they are still mysterious and unfolding.
If my previous years and the first several months of this year have been any indication, 2016 will turn out to be most about daily life choices with the people right in front of me, saying “no” to any sense of objectifying women, “standing” for what is true and good and beautiful and right, and “resisting” participation in anything that demeans and divides human beings into categories.
No lies, no secrets, no tearing down.
Sometimes standing in silence is the only way not to participate in human darkness. At other times, it is to state a clear “NO!”
And daily, incrementally, it is to resist.
May our eyes be opened to see with greater clarity to how each human being matters, as does each choice we make. And may we all sense the embrace of Relentless Affection as we journey into the last half of 2016.