Sometimes the things they say on packaging can be hilarious in way-overkill fashion. Sometimes it can be spot on. The box of the cereal I’ve been munching on states, “What matters most is what’s inside.” It’s true for cereal boxes and people and it’s been making an impression on me lately. Read More »
In times when I feel behind and desperate to compensate with large leaps, I am gently reminded to find my way through small steps. I have a conviction that they are one of the best ways to get anywhere. There is nothing in this world that you could want to do that you can’t take a small step towards. Often the felt obligation to start out with a ceremonious leap prevents us from ever beginning. We become lost beneath ambitions we are yet incapable of. But when you focus on what you do have within your grasp, it makes for progress. Today I cannot write that book of mine, but I can write this post. I cannot disperse all of my fears and insecurities, but I can choose to seek truth.
I could psych myself up for six weeks to make a great movement, or I could just move a little each day as I can and find myself further along. Life and progress is found nestled between turkey samwiches, morning showers, and the picking up of a book. Oh but we are swooned by the big! Big movements look progressive and create the sensation of purpose. Simply completing the process of the here and now has a drab coating to it. But motion breeds motion, and the daily warms up engines for great enterprises. It’s not just that those journeys of thousands of miles start with one step. It’s that those journeys are completely comprised of, from beginning to end, small steps. That makes today so very important. So very possible.
Life is so much more than we imagine and so much less all at the same time. We long for things we scarce believe can be true, and yet they are what we were designed for. Every once in a while they peak through the shrouds of the common day reality to remind us that our aches are evidence of an original design that it all has fallen short of. In glimpses and moments we get to experience a life much richer than we ever thought possible but always dreamed could be so. And then there are times in our lives when it all seems far less than even the things we expected at bare minimum.
We have come to trust in something of what it was all meant to be, and have all tasted something less. There are days when we come alive with expectation and days when we close it all up like folding petals on a flower that’s rethinking its opportunity to bloom. After all, once fully opened with all that we are to the world around us, what is there left to do but succumb to the elements and the weathering of time, losing our petals one by one? If we hold them in tight will they last a little longer? Or will they simply fade without ever offering the beauty of themselves to the world? It seems inevitable that nothing that blooms stays open forever. In the end it is better to have risked more than experienced less. For when we shelter something, can we really prevent it from dying? It is all just part of an illusion that we can control our lives, perfectly, predictably. Life is altogether so much more and so much less. For all our plotting and planning and each calculated step, there will always be an unforeseen road. Always a point in the journey where the next corner calls into check our predictions of what “all things working together for good” will look like. We don’t stop believing that it will be good, but something of our limited understanding of how that looks has to shift.
Here we learn how to not make allowances for what shouldn’t be, while still acknowledging that it is. Here we refuse to let the beliefs of our hearts be reasoned out by temporary experiences. Instead, we allow them to teach us how to see through eternal eyes. We begin to trust in God’s ability to beautifully redeem our stories. We trust that in the end, His redemption will be so complete that we will not be able to imagine how our story could ever be better without that road it grieved us to walk. An unexpected turn in the road reminds us that down can sometimes be another form of up, and that what looks like loss can eventually lead to gain.
Perhaps it is that which makes life so unpredictable that also makes it majestic. Perhaps the search for safety contradicts the courage to live each moment to the fullest. I refuse to embrace a life without mystery, a life in which I have all the answers. For then I have limited my life to my ability to understand and control. It takes more courage to ask the questions to which you have no answers than to assume that you already know.
Here in this place of the unforeseen road, where what shouldn’t be is, we must hold loosely to our small ideas of how we thought this story would play out, and instead hold all the more firmly to His ability to write it well. We don’t give up on the story or stop believing that it will be good. We don’t stop blooming. When petals fall, we don’t refuse to ever grow flowers again. No, we do the opposite. We dig our roots deeper into the soil, knowing that He is faithful to send the sun and the rain on the just and unjust. Here we discover that all things are made beautiful in their time, and even unforeseen journeys have immeasurable value to a heart open to learning from them.