Giving Up... The Finish Line

Lent Series Button I was so frustrated.

I couldn’t believe it happened again. This week. The week my therapist and I ended our sessions (for now) because of how much better I’ve been doing. This week, when Monday my feet felt so firmly planted in the “after” of this whole journey of knowing my identity and learning to be.

But after Monday, Tuesday came.

I sat in a meeting in which a few little things added up to make me feel out of place. Then that out of place feeling grew to an angsty feeling, and I found myself going into that night questioning and uncertain about my role, my calling, and my value in this great big beautiful Kingdom of God.

I thought I was past all that.

{Hey friends and family. Guess what? I got a tattoo! Sorry if this is the first you are hearing about it…}

Seriously. I’ve been writing about all this stuff I’ve given up, and I’ve really been doing it. I’ve told people about how I feel like such a different person than I was six months ago. I mean, last week I got a tattoo celebrating this sense of freedom and new identity in Christ.

Among the many questions swirling through my mind and emotions was this one: how did I end up back here so quickly?

I was quick to assume that falling one step back meant I had regressed all the way to the beginning. It felt that way because, even though I wouldn’t have admitted this out loud, I thought I was done. I thought I had crossed some imaginary finish line.

If you think you’ve finished a race, any fall backwards can make you feel like a failure.

The problem is not the back step; it’s the feeling there's a finish line.

The word “journey” becomes an overused metaphor in the Christian life for a reason. Journeys meander. They are not as much about getting from point A to point B as they are about experiencing what comes to you along the way.

I didn’t really go back to the beginning. I can tell the feelings of angst that arose did not rock me as deeply as they once did. This back step was not a failure, but another point on the journey.

In the Old Testament story of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1, she is distraught by her childless condition. She wrestles and prays and breaks some rules on her journey of surrender to God’s will.

When Hannah finally shares her heart with Eli, our English Bibles translate his reply as, “Go in peace.” But his words could also, and perhaps more accurately, be translated, “Walk towards wholeness.”

Walk towards wholeness.

It’s not about arriving. Or snapping our fingers and getting it all figured out. Or reaching a conclusion and being done. We can’t actually reach that kind of decisive end, as hard as we might strive or wish or struggle to get there.

All we can do is walk towards wholeness on the path of God’s grace.

Giving Up… is a Lenten Series asking a question: What if we gave up more than external things for Lent? It’s not a belief that we can get rid of our baggage as easily as we can write a blog post. But, it is a belief that admitting those things that keep us from deeper intimacy with Christ is a good start. {Please note, this isn’t in any way meant to be a critique of those giving up something external. Often that is connected to the internal in a powerful way. In my case, though, I realized that the external sacrifice was hindering me from dealing with what was going on below the surface.}