if you & i sat down when i was six-years-old & you asked me about heaven, i probably would’ve told you that it lies among the stars. that if you squint your eyes & concentrate super hard, you might not only see the world slightly spinning behind the clouds, but you might see the angels soaring, too. i’d tell you that there will be no piano lessons in heaven & there will be no alligators & that i’ll probably have a retainer because my sister has one & that a crescent moon is actually an astronaut’s slide & heaven is just beyond it. that’s where the moon gets its light.
while my ideas on heaven have since grown longer legs & waded into deeper waters, much about it still remains a mystery to me. my knowledge of God is constantly unraveling in my mind, which is exciting most of the time, but also frustrating because He’s constantly evading my categories. i like to have complexities reduced into simple answers & short lists, so to live in the tension of always having more questions about who He is is often uncomfortable.
this is just a long-winded way of admitting that i struggle with not having all the answers & my view of God is often based more on my feelings than on truth. sometimes i see God as more like an angry dictator who demands more & more & more from me & throws up His holy hands in divine exasperation when i doubt Him, or when i fall for the same temptation one thousand times over. these thoughts & more stifle me & leave me some mornings waking up with nagging anxiety & pestering guilt. “i think God just wants you to sit still for a second so He can hug you,” a friend told me after i exposed my thoughts to her. she knows me well.
while our ideas about God will always remain unfinished, because of the cross & the resurrection there are a few things about Him we can know for sure. i imagine we’ll get to heaven & He’ll embrace us, tell us that we’re home & while we walk with Him weightless, all our earthly burdens & fears & questions evaporated in absolute perfection, He’ll tell us the truth about who we were to Him while we lived.
He’ll tell us that there was never a moment we were not delighted in, never a moment where we escaped His loving gaze. He’ll tell us there was never a moment He turned His back away from us, or grew tired of our prayers, or grew frustrated by our recurring questions. He’ll tell us He never once simply tolerated us. He’ll tell us that even during the seasons we ripped our hand out of His & told Him we don’t need His help, He never loved us less. He’ll tell us that the cross made all that possible & that the resurrection is why we celebrate.
whatever season we find ourselves this easter weekend, i hope we can revel in the mystery of the cross & the resurrection & rest knowing that because of them, He could not love us any more, nor any less than He does in this moment & we’ll know this to be certain when we find the place that lies past the astronaut’s slide & among the stars & stay there forever.
it’s amazing what our eyes pick up when we pay attention to the people around us. it was a wake up call for me when my professor said to my class the other day, “we need to take care of each other.” i took that as, “i need to start paying attention.”
so, i dug out a small & simple grid-lined notebook to carry around, to write observations in. it’s sort of like scribbling down prayers on a smooth surface & hoping my incoherent thoughts & phrases make their way up to God’s throne.
by making a conscious effort to pay closer attention to the people around me, i started to pick up on things my mind would’ve easily blown past, before.
i watched how his hands pressed against the metal door frame as he leaned his head over top of them & shared about a little girl, unborn, yet already adored, who is fighting for her life in her mother’s womb. then i saw her fingers tighten their grip on the handle of her coffee mug when she shared more details about her and her sister’s relationship. & then i watched a group of girls wait their turn to embrace their friend who leaned against the wall, defeated.
empathy is a word that has recently been on the forefront of my mind. i’ve been trying to give it form, trying to imagine what it would look like if it was given flesh. because in order to take care of each other, we need to empathize with one another. we need empathy to leave it’s arms constantly outstretched, ready at any time to embrace. we need our hearts willing to be tied to the person next to us by thick strands of total loyalty & unswerving love, so that when the weight of grief is thrown on the heart yours is chained to & it buckles then sinks, yours sinks, too. we need the courage to say to each other, “in this very moment, you don’t have to be more than you are. all that you are is wholeheartedly enough.”
life is too short, too cruel, for us to spend it unaware & disengaged. we need to be with each other, make room for each other, sit in blank spaces & empty silences with each other, & let our joy fill small & large moments with each other. we need to remember that real love is never convenient, that empathy is never cheap & that the most worthy pursuit embodies itself this way, saying, “regardless of where your spirit rests, or soars, or sighs, or grieves, or sings, i wanna be there, too.”
maybe your mind is crammed with dreams dressed as soldiers with courage dripping off their swords. maybe your hands are holding fire, just waiting for the right time. maybe your feet wander far into greener pasture during what you call your in-between moments. maybe with all this talk around living a life un-wasted & creating world change & leaving a legacy, you’ve forgotten what that actually means.
turns out, becoming a world changer might be closer than you think.
this is you at your best:
walking into a room unannounced,
bending low to lock eyes with a one-year-old,
pausing to celebrate His kindness in a home-cooked meal,
telling her how proud you are,
leaving a generous tip,
paying attention to the curve in his smile,
closing your laptop,
kissing his hand,
bringing home her favorite candy,
sealing an envelope with a handwritten letter,
asking more questions,
telling her out loud what you know she’s good at,
smiling at the stranger you pass on the sidewalk,
re-learning why it is he smiles so big when that song comes on,
& letting a day’s brevity wake you up inside.
so, on your quest to change the world, remember that becoming a world changer isn’t always followed by a loud applause or surrounded by a cheering crowd but it’s glory is in the most unlikely places.
world change happens in the places where you give again & again & again & when your pride cries out for a break, you only give more. world change happens when you drop every weight of guilt & grudge & stereotype & selfish motive that only slows you down & for the sake of your best life, you keep on loving.
to all the wannabe world changers: step off the stage & pick up the remains of the wisdom left by the ones who changed your world for the better & move forward on their shoulders, all the while leaving behind a trail of moments crowned with faithfulness.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.