It has always fascinated me (read-- frustrated me) that Abraham was actually living in the Promise Land when God established his covenant with him. Abraham was prosperous, righteous, chosen, obedient and willing. And, BONUS--he already lived in the place God promised to give to him and his descendants. It seems a lot of time, trauma and trekking could have been saved if God had simply established their residency early on. I'm just saying...
And now, a little about me...
A little over five years ago I attended a silent retreat at a beautiful Mission on the west coast. I remember it well because I was coming off a four year journey of deepening my relationship with God through the contemplative disciplines. It had been a season of healing from addiction to busyness, compulsive codependency and activity-based Christianity. I longed to help other Christian leaders find the sanity and soul nourishment I experienced and I assumed God's next step for me would be into the field of spiritual direction or coaching Christian leaders. I wanted to spend more time 'being'. I was afraid of 'doing'. It felt like death.
So, of course, that's where God sent me. Not because he's a masochist, but because he conquers death.
A New Direction
As I sat on the cool grass in the center of the Mission courtyard I began a collage that I thought would depict 'being'. Somehow I found myself gluing the word 'DO' to my paper. Then...ACT. In the midst of all my being words, God was clearly directing me to action of some kind. But what?
I left the retreat confused. I thought I'd misunderstood. I pursued a job coaching leaders but some wise people around me shared they felt it wasn't a good fit and that door slammed shut.
God waited a week, then showed me his plan as I drove to Home Depot. I don't know why he chose Home Depot as my burning bush moment, but it has forever changed my experience of home improvement. Anyway...as I drove to Home Depot, God suggested I call Apartment Life and see if they were still looking to fill the regional leadership position. They were. Through a serious of miscommunications with my husband I ended up putting my name in the hat and in January of 2009 I was fully immersed in a world of doing and performing and activity.
The next three years I spent trying to integrate what I knew about formation into my life as a leader. I felt propelled for a purpose--creative, energetic and resilient. Then, just as quickly as the energy appeared, it was gone. I knew it was time to move on.
Then, two more years of wandering.
Back Where I Started
And here I sit. In the same place I thought I would be five years ago. Pursuing a master's degree in spiritual formation. More and more drawn to silence and solitude. Repentance and rest. Waiting and watching. Loving and listening.
There are days I wonder if it wouldn't have been simpler if God had led me here in the first place. I was already sitting on the edge of this new land. Did we really have to walk away, only to return a few years later?
Yes. So clearly, YES. I don't claim to understand all of what God was doing, but I honestly wouldn't have done it any other way. And, although I'm sitting in the same place, I come as a different woman. A woman with more depth, more pain, more healing, more dependency, less certainty, more beauty.
Today I see how God took my desires from that day at the Mission and grew them. How he lovingly held them with me, then took my hand and led me where I needed to go in order to fully enter into his plan. I have a feeling there'll be more of this in the future. Glimpses of the future, abrupt changes in direction, wandering and then...home.
Until we're finally face to face.
As my first accomplishment in 2014, I completed a small home improvement project. No applause necessary. Really. I painted my coffee table to match the rest of my room and the furniture. That's right. I've lived here two years and I finally got off my butt and took care of that little project.
After spending four days in Arizona painting, cleaning and improving a house I'll never live in again, I decided to do something about the home in which I currently reside.
And it was tough! I first had to walk across the street to buy a can of paint (because I forgot I'd purchased the paint for this project two years ago). It took a good ten minutes to complete the process. And then there was the waiting for the paint to dry. Insufferable. But I made the best of it and used the time to get a pedicure.
Now both my coffee table and toes are painted (different colors) and thus begins a new era in taking small steps toward improvement.
And now to overanalyze...
I really can't help myself. How can I not spend some time reflecting on what would keep me from doing such a simple task? I saw this coffee table every day. Every day I noticed how it didn't really match. And, every day I chose to do nothing about it. Eventually I stopped thinking about it. I became numb to the discomfort of my avoidance. But the longer I avoided, the larger the task seemed.
And then I picked up a paint brush again and I remembered how easy it is and how much I love transforming something with a fresh coat of color. How the color of a room or an object can impact our emotions and the 'feel' of a space. And I remembered the joy of making something beautiful.
Some thoughts to ponder...
As I begin this new year I think some more reflection is in order. Are there areas in my life where I've grown numb to the nagging pain of avoidance? Have I grown too comfortable with ugliness in my midst? Is there more beauty to be experienced with a simple step of obedience? Where could I be experiencing the joy of creativity and fresh color in my life?
I'll have to sit with those for a bit, but first for something more practical. Time to dust the mounds of dust from my fan blades.
Kelli is a writer, speaker and consultant equipping leaders for a deepening intimacy with Christ, greater impact in ministry and more effective intentionality in all of life.
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