“And so, she figured it all out and lived happily ever after.”
Fade to black. Roll credits.
Credits…? Could somebody please roll the credits?
The Nature of Milestones
Life starts out with clearly defined stages.
Babies roll, then crawl, then walk, then run, and then become large children that jump on your couch until it is destroyed. It’s the natural progression of life.
For our first couple decades, we constantly level up. New skills, rites of passage, so many firsts.
But here I am, at thirty-seven, and there is an adult wasteland stretching out in front of me. My body has stopped growing, aside from weight gain. My formal education has ended, unless I do something drastic.
I am left with a daunting realization. I could generally stay the same for the rest of my adult life.
This would be a good time for me to stop while I’m ahead. To stroll off into the sunset and “live happily ever after.”
The nature of my progress has changed. As a toddler I learned to walk, and now I walk. As a teenager I learned to drive, and now I drive.
But if I try to transfer this thinking over to my spiritual life, it doesn’t translate well. My milestones are not as clearly defined as they once were.
I learned to trust God and now I trust Him completely every day, forevermore. Ugh. I wish.
I learned how to serve my family in love, and now that’s all I do. Lord, let it be.
The danger with writing these blog posts is that I run the risk of you thinking I operate in a constant state of spiritual clarity. That I’ve arrived.
Very, very early on in my spiritual journey I noticed a phenomenon. I could have crystal clarity one day and be in a complete fog the next. Following Jesus wasn’t like learning how to ride a bike. It was like having to relearn how to ride a bike everyday, with only some faint muscle-memory. Over time, I’d remember more, but the Christian life isn’t a “set it and forget it” type of journey.
I seem to be learning the same lessons again and again.
A Recent Example
Last Thursday, the day after I posted The Truest Thing About You, I noticed a typo.
My phone has the WordPress app and a few days earlier I had been drafting my post there because my laptop had died in a tragic accident.
I had completed my post later on our computer and published it there. But when I went on my phone, it still had the older version of the post loaded. I didn’t notice this, edited the typo, and clicked update.
But it uploaded the wrong version!!
You would have thought there was a bomb threat. I went immediately into insane panic mode. There it was, on my site—the messy, discombobulated version of The Truest Thing About You, exposed for the world to see.
If you are even marginally more tech savvy than me, you know it was fixable. But all I knew was that my many changes had been replaced with something I didn’t want anyone to see.
It did turn out to be an easy fix. The online chat support offered by WordPress is really what makes all of this possible, next to the Lord.
But for fifteen minutes, I was exposed. I went straight into the manic crazy mom I used to see often. Racing downstairs in a frenzy, I commandeered the computer out from under a math student, barking a vague explanation.
As my kids asked for details on what was going on, it took every ounce of self-control not to yell at the very top of my lungs.
Every second that passed, my pulse quickened. What if someone sees this?? It’s so disjointed and crazy. What if they think that’s how I wanted it? I was terrified to touch anything and make it worse as I waited for the chat to go live.
And then, because God loves me and lives within, the irony of me going completely off the rails over a blog called A Life at Rest began to creep into my consciousness. As I began to take deep breaths, I managed to admit to myself and to my bewildered onlookers that everything was actually going to be okay, like in a cosmic, eternal sense, but also in a practical “the opinion of others is not the most important thing” sense. Also, that this wasn’t an emergency.
And then my chat support fixed it, easy peasy. Good thing I didn’t completely freak out about it, right? (Ugh.)
In these moments, you have to either laugh or cry. I usually do both.
As the kids and I sat there laughing about the absurdity that is me, I had to point out, to set the record straight, that I did realize everything was okay before it was actually okay.
To which my son, in his way, exclaimed, “Yay! Mommy is growing, even if she isn’t getting any taller!”
Praise be to God.
No, We Are Not There Yet.
While I can look back over time and see an upward projectile, day to day my spiritual journey looks more like that sanctification gif of a man falling head over heels up an escalator.
If we don’t understand the perpetual nature of our own sanctification, we are setting ourselves up for discouragement and despair.
We don’t get to graduate out of spiritual growth. Retirement isn’t a thing. Fading off into the sunset only happens in fairy tales.
Like the saints who have gone before us, we will be running our marathon down the path of righteousness until God takes us home.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”Hebrews 12:1-2
How do we lay aside all these weights we carry? What if your sin clings really closely? How do we run this really long race with endurance and make spiritual progress?
We look to Jesus.
The same One that founded your faith, that pursued you when you were dead in your sins, that redeemed you from the pit of your own helplessness, has not left you to manage the rest on your own.
Jesus is the perfecter of our faith.
He is with us, urging us on past the pitfalls of lethargy, complacency, and discouragement. We rest in His ability to change us and we surrender ourselves to His purposes again and again.
Jesus ran His race all the way to the cross and He gives us the power to run the race set before us.
No, we aren’t there yet. But take heart. Keep going. Let Christ rule over this moment. Recognize His steadfast love towards you. And embrace your perpetual and eternal dependence on His grace.
We’ll get there when we get there.