After deployment, my life as I knew was falling apart. I knew I would be leaving the Army, so I was trying to pull together MBA applications. The problem was…
everything I was writing felt so inauthentic. My Dad said one day, “Son, you’ve just got to be done with them.” So, I dropped them entirely and redirected my frustration. Turns out, it was the best decision of my life.
Negative emotions are often seen as the enemy, but the truth is they are gifts. If we can harness that energy in a new direction with new perspective, we can effectively move through times where life feels like it’s falling apart.
We’ve All Got to Start Somewhere
I recently heard Peter Rollins tell the following parable:
A lady was driving a car in Ireland to a place called Tipperary. She got lost, so she stopped to ask a nearby shopkeeper for directions.
“How do you get to Tipperary?” She said.
He replied, “Oh! Tipperary. Okay, well, get out a pen.” She did.
The man continued, “Well… the first thing you should know is that you shouldn’t start here!”
I love this parable because I often find myself in this lady’s position. We’re all given directions on life’s journey and at some point, we get a bit lost.
We realize, “I’m not where I should be…”
Hanging up the phone with my Dad, I realized, “I don’t know why I want this anymore… Heck, I don’t even know where I’m going!” Yet, in that moment of frustration, I knew one thing I always wanted to do: travel, volunteer, and explore my faith.
I pulled up the application to the World Race and worked on it for the next three hours. Five months later, I was on a plane with 20 strangers heading to Spain.
It was a wild ride full of success and failure. More than anything, however, it was filled with the love of the Father.
Why Do We Fall Master Bruce?
At times, we all get a little too comfortable.
Like rocks in the ocean, we find a little groove that gives a nice comfortable view. We’re not so deep that we’re crazy, but we’re not so shallow as to be boring.
Then, in my case at least, life (God) pushes me overboard. Once again, I find myself falling. And I discover the only thing I can trust is love of God to carry me.
Plan A doesn’t work out, so we end up going to plan B. Plan B doesn’t work out either, so we end up on Plan C. Then, if that doesn’t work out, we find ourselves Stuck — often truly facing ourselves for the first time.
And in that moment, we often have our first real experience with darkness and God’s love.
God’s love has rarely solved my problems or answer my questions. In fact, it often doesn’t even protect me from pain, suffering, or difficulties.
Instead, it keeps me falling just slow enough to realize my falling is not an accident. It’s drawing me into deeper communion, deeper soul spaces, and new places of understanding and love.
It’s teaching me how to stand in a grace that, like God, holds together the good and bad yet keeps on loving anyway.
Maybe that’s all grace really is — a swaying ocean of love that dislodges and keeps you falling often enough that your only absolute is greater depths of love. Then, you get up for a little bit, and fall all over again.
Like Alfred always says, “Why do we fall Master Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
How We Learn to Shine Through The Fall
Brazil has once again brought me into a season of falling. God is flipping my world upside-down and subtle grief has been my friend for this part of the journey.
Some days, I simply sit in a chair and tears of happiness leak down my face. Others, I feel deep sorrow for lies I’ve believed for too long.
Lies that people don’t really love me.
Some of it is lies that people think I’m crazy, irresponsible, or even stupid for living the way I do.
However, the worst is part is honestly self-induced pressure to “hurry up and get a job and stop pretending that I’m hearing God, seeing miracles, or wasting my life.”
Despite all this negative self-talk, I take comfort that I’m not alone. Others are here with me, and God, even in my weakness, is loving me every step of the way.
I see that just like every pearl starts with an irritating substance lodged its heart, we too experience discomfort in hidden parts of our soul from time to time. But, after a season, we finally crack open, and something beautiful is revealed.
If ancient myths held that pearls were the tears of the gods and Jesus called us gods, then it to me seems that authentic tears are the discovery of our pearls hidden in the sea of our souls.
These gifts, I think, are the gifts of our redeemed fragility. They are the treasures of wisdom and suffering that adorn our necks and we share with others.
Although they are costly, these pearls inspire and give hope that every season of discomfort carries a prize that will shine at the end. They become treasures that we look back on and say,
“Don’t give up. Remember. There’s light. There’s hope! Keep going.”
Or, as Jesus says, “You, little you, are a light in this world. Shine! Don’t hide it! Share your flame and burn even brighter. Attract others, grow, learn, live!” (my paraphrase).
I pray that wherever you are my friends you open yourself to vast ocean of grace stored in every human heart. May you be the one who brings light and sets others aflame. And if you find yourself walking in a season of darkness, remember like Moses who ascended the mountain covered in darkness, you to are ascending the mountain and God awaits you on the other side.
Grace and Peace,
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