Friday, July 8, 2016

Bigger Things

"Learn to hold loosely all that is not eternal." -A.M. Royden

My experiences in Colorado have consistently amazed me. I think back to January, when I first got here; and I think back to life a few months before that, when I knew I needed to come. Or change. Or grow. Or something. 

I think back to that feeling of knowing I was about to make a decision to change something, the direction of my life (my outer life, of course, but which was rooted in and flowed from my inner life), and all I could really be sure of was the uncertainty that it was going to bring. 

Relationships have changed. Dynamics have changed. Jobs, income, creative patterns, priorities, values, and goals have changed. Experiences inevitably change us in ways we can't foresee: we can expect change itself, for sure; but we can't have any idea what it will look like. Five months ago, I didn't know what doors would open by coming here- and I couldn't know how this experience would grow me or change me.

And I think ultimately that's what makes life amazing and present to us: learning to be adaptable and aware, learning to trust, learning to throw ourselves into the unknown from a place of knowing we need to. It's at the heart of an adventurous heart; at the heart of an authentically lived life.
I've also learned since being here about the meaning of bigger things. Life is amazing. Human growth is amazing, people are amazing; the mountains are amazing and to experience creation is amazing. But more amazing than cool life experiences and 'living to the fullest' and 'following your dreams' and taking it all in (these are great things), is seeing the ultimate thing that all those experiences point to.

They awaken a desire that only God fills. They each reflect Him back to me; they are all ways of worship and reverence for something greater that is the hand from which all life comes. I think it's a discovery that has rooted me in contentment no matter what: regardless of what I'm doing with my life (or even when I feel like I'm failing to do certain things with my life), having Christ at the center is the ultimate source of fulfillment and love, and it eradicates anxiety about the future, and worry.

And when we get rid of worry, we get rid of fear. And when we get rid of fear, we create. We live, we bloom; our life is rich, complete, whole, free, and truly present- and none of it has to do with what we're doing, but with what has already been done, by God, for us.

I know that He has moved me here, relatively 'new' in my spiritual awareness, to teach that to me over and over again every day: that to live in the awareness of love, quite literally, solves everything. It's a lesson that's a pleasure to learn.
Another thing I've learned is that just as there's reflecting back, there's looking ahead. I can't believe in just two months I'll have to say goodbye to this place and these people, which have meant so much to me this year. But I'm learning something about the present: if that's where you truly are all the time, there's always enough

Loss is a misconception. Goodbye will be goodbye on a literal level, of course; but to have fully savored the experience piece by piece, as it was happening, means its ending isn't devastating. (It's a good metaphor for life itself: when we don't cling to it, we can truly love it- and we won't be afraid of its end). The best thing we can hope to leave behind in any experience is a glimpse of who God is for others to see- and to me that's all that matters, all that heals, and all that lasts.

I remember coming home from another big life change back in 2013, after traveling to volunteer in Peru for a summer, and feeling extremely uncomfortable, sad, and angry with the idea of being home- and the idea of being uncertain of what was next. At the time, before I had faith and before I understood how essential it was to forget myself and see myself instead as God sees me, I put my identity and purpose in doing things: in a job title, in clinging to fulfilling experiences, in having good and purposeful feelings.

I couldn't see the bigger picture: that God was working things for my good in ways I couldn't foresee. That He was preparing me for something, and I had to learn to trust, not anxiously anticipate- or what I would have called at the time, know.
In early 2013 I wasn't intimate with God at that point in my life, and I only now realize how important it will be to remain sure of who I am in Him, which never changes, once I return from Colorado. My identity is not in the end, beginning, or fulfillment of an experience, accomplishment, or even achievement of a worthy goal. My identity- my inner character and self- is consistent and set in something eternal. 

Life will change and rock me a lot. As long as I choose to grow and evolve, goodbyes, change, and definitely some tears will be inevitable. That's life- but it's not without hope for always more around the corner. God is always up to something I can't always see (and am not meant to). Part of living fully in faith is not the mentality of 'predicting what I can do that will ultimately advance me,' but 'being faithful to the promise of what God can do that will ultimately advance Him.'

With that as the goal for my inner life, my outer life will take care of itself. And in the meantime, as long as I stay in the present, I keep learning over and over that His provision is abundantly enough.

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