02 July 2010

looking up

There are a lot of things wrong with the world. On a much smaller level, there are many things about our life right now that I would change, had I the power to do it. James would have a job -- preferably one that brought in a decent income and didn't drive him nuts (ooh, and that has good benefits). The price of oil would be up and the wells in which we're invested would be top producers. My baby wouldn't have a heart defect.

As hopeful as I am about each of these things, as much blessing as I've experienced in the course of things being exactly as they are, I still have my moments where I just want to wave a magic "fix it" stick and have it all be better the way I want it.

I had a very honest moment with Jesus today in which I told Him just that. That sometimes I'm tired of it and just want a break. That as glad as I am that what we're going through means He's loving us and disciplining us toward holiness, sometimes I just wish it could all be the way I want it to be -- in truth, even though the reality of it completely disgusts me -- a little like a gospel of prosperity: if you love Jesus and obey Him, He will give you health and wealth and the American dream to boot!

I know it doesn't work that way. And on many levels, I'm deeply and profoundly thankful that it doesn't.

These thoughts got me to wondering: say things really did turn out the way I wanted. Say Ewan was miraculously healed (or, the doctors said, "Oops, sorry, we had the wrong baby!"), James had the perfect job, and everything was peachy. Say everything in my life had been this way: no challenge, no troubles, no resistance. What would I be like? Would I have any depth or strength or character? Would I care about the things I care about? Would I even be me?

I have a strong suspicion that without any kind of resistance in my life, without trials, hardships, whatever you will call them -- I would be vapid and shallow, disinterested and entirely uninteresting. I couldn't relate to anyone. I just might be the kind of person, who when she heard the poor had run out of bread to eat would say: "Then let them eat cake!" (which, by the way, Marie Antoinette didn't really say either).

What's true of our bodies is true of our spirits, our souls, our whole persons as well: strength is built when an opposing force is resisted. I've written about this before. Just like strength of body, strength of spirit doesn't "just happen" either. Someone who lounges on the sofa eating Doritos all day cannot expect to have a toned and muscled body, and neither can a spiritual couch potato expect to be a saint, or to achieve the holiness Christ desires for us. Previously, I wrote this:
Make no mistake: getting stronger hurts. It is a slow process. If we look at this from a physiological point of view again, getting stronger requires that we deliberately engage our muscles against the weight we are lifting. It requires that we repeat the motion of lifting or pressing, engaging our muscles repeatedly to the point of fatigue. In so doing, muscle fibers are broken down ... In the days of rest that follow, the fibers are built back up, stronger than they were before. And we do it again and again.
Ouch. Yeah. Good reminder to myself.

The funny thing about all this is is that when I write, I tend to put the stronger stuff out there: the things that I can reason and know, sometimes at the expense of what I actually feel. But the truth is, oftentimes they butt up against each other, like two boxers with gloves braced, and I wonder if one reality might punch the lights out of the other. And sometimes I get stuck between them, feeling the push and pull from both sides.

This is when I need to be reminded to look up: look up to our High Priest -- the one Who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, the one Who was tested just as we are. This is when I need to be reminded what it's all for. I need to remember that if I'm to run a good race, I will get tripped up if I spend too much time looking down at my feet, or veer off course if too much time is spent looking over my shoulder. I need to look up. And when I tire, wishing I could know what and how and when -- this is when I need to remember that I will never know what and how and when (maybe not even in retrospect), but I do know Who.

Jesus. One foot in front of the other, breathing His name with every step.

photo taken by james // processing by me


  1. So true. I'm so glad you share your thoughts, Kirsten. Thank you. You're in my prayers.

  2. Beautifully written. I love the analogy to getting stronger physically. It is so true.

    Love you.

  3. I feel as though I am walking this with you, as if He is strengthening me through your struggle. I love your heart.

    Oh, and I LOVE that photo! I saw it and just burst into this huge grin...

  4. Say everything in my life had been this way: no challenge, no troubles, no resistance. What would I be like? Would I have any depth or strength or character? Would I care about the things I care about? Would I even be me?

    This got me thinking about my own trials and troubles. Long journeys I have taken into very dark places. Long stillnesses in the very center of difficult truths. Blindnesses that took forever to become sight. Deep pains ... that led to some of these eventual journeys into dark regions ... that eventually placed me on the other side, suddenly holding some new and beautiful blooming flowers in the palms of my hands.

    These parts of my journey: I have come to cherish them. Because they really did make me who I am today. And I wouldn't want to be anybody else.

    I've been in a pretty dark place the last nine months. The last three or so have been especially hard. Sometimes I've hated how familiar these dark places feel. They are like some of those old dark places. The ones I had come to cherish -- after the fact. And here I was now, not wanting to walk through them again *at all.* I was so angry at God for bringing me to these waters again. I was so disbelieving and hurt that he would do that.

    Jesus. One foot in front of the other, breathing His name with every step.

    This is where I've been struggling with all my might to live instead. It's difficult. But light's been filtering through the slats in the blinds of late ... and that light is only Jesus ... and I'm so, so thankful to see his face.

  5. such challenging thoughts...

    love that last line, "Jesus. One foot in front of the other, breathing His name with every step."

    you and James and Ewan were heavy on my heart last night, and I was praying...

  6. @Tea
    Thank you, Tea. Thank you for your continued support and prayers. Much love!

    Thank you, Karin. I think this is something you know well. Love you!

    Thank you for walking this with me; thank you for being here. I hope that we can encourage and strengthen one another.

    Much love.

    Oh, Christianne. What can I say. I know much of your journey and I fear my own has kept me from knowing what yours has been lately: those deep, dark valleys, those paths that are littered and strewn with sharp stones and enormous obstacles.

    It is so hard to be thankful in the middle of it. As you said, to acknowledge in retrospect the role these trials have played in shaping and forming you.

    I'm sorry to hear you're walking through another long season of it. I know it's hard, and I know it hurts.

    But do you mind if I be thankful for you? If such a thing is possible, I trust that what you're facing now will make you all the more gracious and lovely a person.

    I hope you take this in the spirit in which it is meant: with so much love, and faith that even this ugliness will render your already sparkling soul all the more radiant.

    Much love to you, my friend.

    I love your heart so much: the way you internalize things so deeply, and express so much love. Thank you for your continued prayers for the three of us.

    Much love to you!

  7. Thank you for sharing your heart. What a blessing to be able to journey this season with you in prayer.
    In this time of waiting, hoping and praying I am asking God's strength, peace and joy be tangible in each day and that He will surprise you with His goodness in new and unexpected ways.

  8. i've always thought about this, about how the pain in my life has shaped me into who i am today, and about how that is still happening. i don't happen to believe that the Lord causes these things, but i passionately believe that he uses every scrap of my life to form me into his likeness. sometimes it helps to know this, and sometimes it doesn't, but it's always true.

    i'm sad that some of that forming has been (is now) so painful, but i'm very glad you're you.

  9. Beautifully expressed, Kirsten. I especially love your description of reasoning vs feeling -- I feel that battle all the time.
    Love & prayers, Erin

  10. Peace to you. sorry for your struggles. I identify for I lost my job last Monday and have struggled in lots of areas. May God truly sustain you and your husband and child within. May all health issues work out well with His heart.

    Peace you precious child of God.