Already Included #62 – Meaning

By: Sarah Nyhan

“Do not be dismayed.” Over and over in the Bible. Do not be dismayed.

One dictionary defines dismay as the loss of courage due to fear.

What are the stories that we tell ourselves? The more I think about it, we basically have a 100% chance of being wrong about how we see the future turning out. I guess 50% chance at the most. Maybe. But when I really flesh it all out, it is really ridiculous to think we understand anything that is going on. Much less think we are ever able to accurately depict the future. And that is what storytelling is: being a fortune-teller, a psychic. It’s crazy. Absolutely crazy.

Yet we live our lives in story. We build our identity within a story. A story that we’ve told ourselves. Or someone else’s story that we’ve adopted as our own. We build, or try to build little kingdoms on top of these stories, out of these stories, in these stories. We go to war and kill people for our stories.

It’s so crazy the more I think about it.

I am a product of two humans deciding to have intercourse one day. That involved a bunch of cells racing towards each other and at least two sticking together. Then those cells multiply and grow. Then somehow a soul or a spirit gets attached to all that?! Who can even really scientifically explain even what a soul or spirit is and where it comes from?

Nevertheless, then I’m born a helpless child who is at the mercy of so many other humans for a great majority of years. I’ve been told a lot of stories during that time. I’ve been pressured to pick a story and stick with it. Even for survival. And yet, I know nothing. I only know what I have been taught or experienced. And I haven’t had very much time to figure out what is true and false about all that. Speaking of time, it flies by. And I’m asked to make so many decisions without really knowing for myself what is best. I manage as well as I can within the stories I have, but for the most part it’s a falling forward.

And then people ask you what your plans are for the future. As if simply planning will ensure specific outcomes. 2020 was a slap in the face in that regard. 2020 was a slap in the face, a wake-up call, in the stories of most, I imagine. Like going to the ocean and seeing how small you are. How powerless in the face of… everything.

And yet we judge each other. We say, “I figured out a story that seems to be going better than yours.” For now. Until the cancer. Until the accident. Until the… etc. Etc. Etc.

I admit I initially get overwhelmed. About 20 million times a day. And then the absurdity of demanding control and certainty just knocks the rug out from under me. And I fall. I let go. There is nothing else left to do but enjoy the flight.

My word pictures lack the punch I feel and desire. But I try. Like in everything else. Imperfectly.

This is mystery.

Where am I? I am in You, Jesus. Not because I know how or why. But because You said so. And You know the real story. I’m just a kid. But I am Your kid. With all my stories; probably mostly incomplete or incorrect. And yet here I stand before another day. In the lens of Your economy (and what a terrible way to put that), things could go my way just as much as they could not go my way today. I will do my best to fumble through but really my only hope is You. Please help me see things as they really are. Please help me see through Your heart versus all my fears. Even the ones people shame me into not professing. You know, God. You know me. Better than I know myself. If You said that You work all things for good, please help me see that story. Please restore our hope. And joy. I believe You already are. I want to feel it. More and even more.

I only have this instant. The stories I tell myself about the future are just my imagination. They are not real.

Maybe the only thing I need to ask myself is, “Am I alone in all this? Do I really think my Creator spun me out into this world and abandoned me to myself and the mercy of others?” Too many things have happened during my time for me to be able to answer “no”. I hope the same for you.

If it isn’t the end yet then there is still more to the story. And I want to stick around to find out. To fully experience this crazy ride we call life. I believe we all are eternally safe in our Creator, our Abba’s heart. So I want everything there is for me to have here. So I practice choosing to let go of the stories I tell myself and the meaning I give anything. And in doing so I practice choosing not to be dismayed.

Everything could change in an instant. What if tomorrow holds that moment? What if even today?

What if I included Trinity and Their Love into all my equations? With God, anything and everything really is possible. I want to dream bigger.

 

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Already Included #61 – Plain as Day

By: Sarah Nyhan

I took a friend for a drive downtown a few days ago. It was nighttime but I knew where we were and where we were going. In contrast, my friend hadn’t been downtown in awhile. She was looking for a specific building and couldn’t find it.

After our excursion, I researched the building she was looking for. Turns out we had even been parked directly in front of it for several minutes as we waited for the traffic light to turn in our favor. During that time she had even commented on the business that was now located in the building she was looking for. But she didn’t recognize the building in the dark.

It felt like a good analogy for what I would have previously called evangelism. In that, we can lead someone right up to the truth, we can get truth right in their face, and they can have the best of intentions. But if they are in darkness, then they won’t be able to see what they think they are looking for.

See, my friend was looking for the building based on what it used to look like in the past versus what it actually looks like now. Just like how people seeking truth want to fit God back into the boxes they think religion limits Him to. Versus God as Trinity actually is even now.

My friend probably would have seen the building she was looking for if we had been driving during the day versus at night. In the same way, I am becoming more and more convinced that people will not see the truth about God and themselves unless Son/Light comes to clear out their darkness.

Maybe Jesus reaches out to them through our words, but I am less and less convinced that is the optimal method of revelation. I really don’t know anymore.

I’m frankly tired of being disappointed. Of sending out the invitations, setting the table, and wanting so badly to celebrate and then none of my loved ones showing up. None of my loved ones as excited. But Jesus told a parable saying the same thing. I’m not smart enough to know everything He meant then, but He reminds me now to leave the wheat and tares separation business to Him. To keep watering. To keep loving.

But not like before. Not with conversion in mind necessarily. He could use rocks and donkeys to speak; He doesn’t need me like that. The goal is less about conversion and more about healing.

Maybe that’s why He lets us wrestle with imperfect translations, denominations, and theology. Because this Jesus is personal. All about relationship. The one. You. Me. Each of us.

Versus any institution. I’m reminded that He rebuked Peter when Peter wanted to setup a structure and go to war in the physical.

This isn’t about winning. This is about healing. I can’t lead with my mind; Jesus beckons my heart. And my strength isn’t needed; this will only be done through Spirit.

Lord help us. Lord help me. My impatience. My disappointment. Even my bitterness. You always had us. We were always safe in Your love. We are kids who always need our Abba. I am Your child and I need You to be my Abba. Please help me see. Please help my unbelief. Thank You for helping me see. Thank You for helping me believe. I ask for You to restore our hope and joy. We want our loved ones to celebrate with us.

 

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