by Christine Sine,
Has it ever occurred to you how artificial the face we present to the public is, especially now when we are working at home? No pressure to dress up. The only time I put on make up and jewelry these days is when I am getting ready for a Zoom call or a video recording. The “me” you see isn’t the real me. There is so much messiness behind the scenes – a pile of tottering boxes that support my iPhone with my scrolling tele-prompted script, a precarious stack of cushions on my chair because my tripod won’t get my camera low enough to record effectively, and a couple of old lights scavenged out of the garage to illuminate my face.
That messiness plays an important part in my life though. It has taught me to improvise and be creative with what is lying around. It has encouraged me to learn new skills and to break out of the rigid boundaries of the past into new adventures. It has also taught me to rely on others who have the skills I lack and it has grounded me in a more resilient, more sustainable way of life.
There does come a point however when the messiness of pioneering gives way to a more ordered structure – the framework that says “I am here to stay”. Godspace is growing. Online events are proliferating and we love doing them. Perhaps now is the time to get rid of my stack of tottering boxes and buy a ring light. Maybe a new chair that isn’t 100 years old, that doesn’t squeak and is easily adjusted up and down. And shades to cover my office windows so that I don’t have to hunt for a new place to sit for an afternoon webinar without the sun streaming in and blinding the audience.
I don’t have to embrace this growth, I realize. I can pretend that one day I will be able to go back to doing things exactly the way they were. I can make do with my tottering pile of boxes until they fall and bury me in the middle of a webinar. Yesterday’s ways are OK for tomorrow I rationalize but deep down I know it is not ture and I don’t want to miss out on where God is nudging me to go.
What are the lessons for my spiritual life, I wonder?
Messiness is often the prelude to a new way of life and a new normal that God wants to establish in us. We improvise for a while drawing on the left overs of the past. We embrace new realms of creativity and lean heavily on our spiritual directors and soul friends for support and encouragement. But in the process, we grow and that growth takes us beyond the tottering boxes to new ways of practicing our faith.
I think that the messiness of the way that many of us have operated over the last year reflects that. Our spiritual life has gone through a phase of messiness where we feel that our public face has been precariously held together by a tottering stack of beliefs from the past, anxieties, fears and uncertainties. But in the midst, we have changed and grown. Now we need to replace these, especially the fears and anxieties with something more stable, for us to not just survive but to continue growing.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think we need to throw out everything from the past. Without the foundations it gave us we would not have become the resilient and creative people we already are. However I do think this is a great time to re-evaluate the way we want to practice our faith into the future both as individuals and as churches.
I encourage you to take time to prayerfully look around at the practices you have engaged in over the last year. In what ways are they different from your pre-COVID practices? Which of these practices have most effectively sustained, nourished and grown your faith? How do you continue to incorporate these in your life?
Now, look back to pre-COVID days. What practices have you let go of over the last year that you realize are not necessary to sustain you into the future? How do you reshape your life without these practices? What practices have you been forced to let go of that have left you feeling bereft and malnourished? How can you start rebuilding those into your life?
We still live in challenging times, but they are also exciting times of opportunity and continued growth. I hope that in the messiness that still surrounds us that you will reinvent your life with a strong foundation for the future.
Available now in our store! Check out our New Lenten Bundle which includes the downloads of A Journey Into Wholeness book, Lent/Easter Prayer Cards, and 40 Daily Ideas Guide for Lent!