For a long time, it’s been my strategy to write blog posts about whatever is on my heart at the moment – what I’m reading, how I’m being challenged, what I’m learning about.
It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve written a post about what I’m learning. Part of it has to do with summer – relaxing, taking tons of pictures this time of year, and not taking the time to write deeper, more serious blog posts.
But part of the reason I’ve been holding back is because I feel as though I can’t openly share about what I’m learning right now. I don’t feel the freedom to do so, because the journey I’ve been on recently is actually someone else’s journey. I happen to be entering into it because I love and care for this person, and it’s touching my world right now. I’m going out of my comfort zone, trying to find my way through the mess of what I’ve grown up believing, and what is becoming real to me right now.
This summer, I’ve been learning all kinds of things, none of which I would have chosen to learn, because I’ve been uncomfortable. My views are being challenged, my relationships are being stretched, and I’m trying to learn how to live life with people who are different than me.
In the beginning, going out of our comfort zone made both Ben and me feel the knee-jerk reaction of wanting to protect our girls, sheltering them from what was unknown and uncomfortable for us, and keeping them far away from anything that felt threatening to us. It didn’t take long to realize this wasn’t going to work, because it wasn’t real, practical or truly loving.
So, this summer has been about our family wading in, testing how deep we feel we can go, and taking it slowly because we’re leading young children into unexplored waters.We can’t keep our girls untouched, but we also feel as though we can’t rush right over to the other side and embrace all that is foreign to us.
What has become incredibly clear to me is that I believe Jesus would enter the mess.
He would be right in the midst of what is uncomfortable, and I’m pretty positive He would find the perfect place to be, somewhere in the middle.
Have you ever noticed that either extreme end of a problem is not a great place to be? All or nothing?
The best place to be is right in the middle, where it’s messy.
But the problem with being in the middle is that you’re constantly balancing. It’s like sitting in the middle of a teeter totter, continually needing to shift your weight to keep things balanced. It would be so much easier to sit on one side or the other, not having to keep adjusting and balancing, but it seems to me that all or nothing makes it easier to block truth, to miss out on what other people are thinking or experiencing or believing. It’s easier to shut down other people’s opinions.
Just recently, I read a fantastic interview with Alan Chambers in which he shares about his experience of wading out into the middle of an issue, after spending many years on one side of the extremes.
We have led with “this is what we’re against.” We have led with “this is a sin.” And we have not led with “Jesus loves you. Period. Everyone can have a relationship with Him. We all fall short. You’re absolutely welcome here.” I think we have this conversation with tears. I think we have this conversation with great caution and care. It’s not about capitulating to the world or denying the truth of God’s Word. But are there faithful people out there who love Jesus, serve him as much as we do and live very differently from us who we need to talk through these things with? I would say yes.
I find the space I have walked into far more contentious than the one I left behind. But I also don’t believe people live on polarized ends of the spectrum. I think the silent majority live in the middle. I’m standing here in this very weird place and not alone. I think I’m standing with a whole lot of other people, most of whom don’t have a microphone or a camera following them, who are saying, “I want to have that conversation.” ….Thousands and thousands of people are saying, “I may not agree with you completely, but it’s about time we had this conversation, and we’re with you.”
I have to admit, I’m not very good at saying, “I may not agree with you, but I’m with you.” Living in Southern Manitoba, it’s fairly easy to surround yourself with like-minded people, and after awhile, we sink into thinking that our way is the way – that sitting comfy on one end of an extreme is okay and right and good.
It’s neat and tidy, but it’s not really how people actually work. We’re all a mess of emotions, beliefs, junk from the past, and hope for the future. I want to embrace the chance to wade into the mess, because that’s where real people are.
We don’t really know what we’re doing, but we’re trying. I’m willing to learn, and to have the conversations that need to happen with people. I’m willing to say to our girls, “I’m uncomfortable with this, but we want to learn to love like Jesus, so let’s figure it out.”
I want to be with people who are different from me, and I want to learn how to accept and…celebrate (?!) those differences! I think there’s a whole lot more that God needs to teach me…
What about you – been doing any wading out into the middle lately? Any tips on how to take your kids into the middle with you?