I don’t often choose a word for the coming year, but I have decided that 2023 is a year to pursue Contemplation.
My wilderness journey is well underway and I admit that I am a work in progress. The past few years have provided ample opportunities for me to reevaluate my faith and my beliefs.
Where have I been? A few years ago I hit my lowest point. I felt rejected by my spouse, my church, and found myself in an unexpected career transition. In the midst of my confusion, pain, and doubt, I was shocked to discover that my faith deepened and that God felt more present than ever.
Where am I now? Today, I truly believe that none of us are separated from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39).
Where am I headed? My journey continues. And although I do not know my destination, I am comforted knowing this:
I am loved by God no matter what.
Nothing I do separates me from God’s love.
Those things I do not do will not separate me from God’s love.
God’s compassionate and ever-present love is poured out on all of us– no matter what we choose to do or not do. It is healthy and right to distance myself from those who cause me pain. Yet, even those who have hurt me are loved by God.
God’s love and grace are beyond my knowledge and understanding, but both are mysteries I choose to embrace.
The Story of the Garden of Eden is a lot like the Story of my Life
God’s garden contained edible and desirable fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. Within that one perfect garden existed the sources of good, evil, and life itself.
Adam and Eve grew up in the garden and it is a story of their coming of age. Like Adam and Eve, as I have matured, I have turned away from childhood innocence and turned toward the fruit of knowledge. Knowledge has always been attractive to me, but it never fully satisfies. I eat more and more, and never feel full. Whether it's certifications, degrees, careers, marriages, friendships, or communities, the fruit of knowledge may be “good for food,” but it doesn’t satisfy my hunger.
What is it I truly desire? Life-giving relationship. I desire the profound intimacy and innocence of childlike faith, so simple it cannot be categorized as religion.
Childlike faith, the best I can tell, is found in my repentance, that simple reorientation from the Tree of Knowledge to the Tree of Life. In repentance, I hold out my empty hands and empty spirit, and accept the fullness of Life.
How ironic that it has taken me this long to learn how to feed myself. After all, Jesus taught this principle- that in order to truly live, we must choose Life over our lives (Matthew 16:23-26).
I let my life get in the way of Life.
I’m hopeful I’m reconnecting with a childlike faith. It’s a faith in a God that is not a tyrant, a God who desires connection and relationship, and a God who pronounces that the creation of humanity is “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
2023 is on my doorstep. Contemplation is at hand. Want to join me?