Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pursuing or Pursued?

Pacific Coast Highway curved in and out of road cuts through steep cliff walls and back into expansive views of uncontrollable ocean beyond. Having passed the slower drivers, I was in the lead as I glanced behind and then refocused forward. Open space ahead and behind. The convergence of space, movement, view, and direction rested on me and in me like moist ocean air.

However, much needed rain had seeped into the hardened cliff facades and loosened rubble. I rounded a curve and had to break for rock debris littering both directions of travel. Navigating fallen impediments in the road was strangely familiar. During much of last year, I encountered lots of broken-off bits and pieces from weakening walls within myself.

Looking back, I could see that my journey with my word for the year, pursue, was necessary…to get through such troublesome stretches.

In 2013, what I really desired was smooth, straight roads without obstacles. Post-hormonal, empty-nester, easy street meant no schedule to limit me, no goals to pressure me, no structure to confine me, and no conflict to stress me. If I could just make certain that all my no’s insulated me, then I would be free to pursue relational and missional goals. But insisting on all those no’s was far from freeing; pursue had become more about resisting and avoiding than developing.

Gripping onto no’s at every curve or bump in the road was exhausting. Resisting schedule, goals, structure and conflict resulted in getting nowhere…and often left me stalled at the bottom of a climb. Running on empty and unable to make the grade, I allowed a couple of hitchhikers…just for the company. I did not realize how loud they would be. Overwhelmed and overpowered, I was displaced to the back seat. To avoid further confrontation, I sunk low into the well-worn leather of the back seat. Even though I was reasonably comfortable, I had no idea of where these hijackers were taking me.

Relaxing into back seat bondage is not without personal loss. Staci Eldredge describes the costs of avoiding and hiding in her book, Captivating:

We hide our truest selves and offer only what we believe is wanted, what is safe. We act in self-protective ways and refuse to offer what we truly see, believe and know. We will not risk rejection or looking like a fool. We have spoken in the past and were met with blank stares and mocking. We will not do it again and will hide because we are afraid…To hide is to remain safe, to hurt less. And so by hiding we take matters into our own hands. We don’t return to our God with our broken and desperate hearts. And it never occurred to us that in all our hiding, something precious is also lost—something the world needs from us very, very much.

The hijacked journey of pursuit took a turn for the worse as I realized I had been moving away from all that was important to me…God, relationships and the real me. Henry Cloud put words to this distance in Changes that Heal, “And when we are hiding, [our true selves] are not in relationship with God and others….and without relationship, without attachment to God and others, we can’t be our true selves. We can’t be truly human.” Yes, something precious was getting lost.

One day in mid-November pursue showed up in a radically different context. Pursue appeared on one slide among many from the workshop presenter. And that one slide was like my own burning bush miraculously speaking directly to me, “You are worth being pursued by God.”

God seized pursue away from my hijackers and then presented it back to me. Pursue was not about me defending my space, my desires, my self… triggered avoiding and hiding. Nor was it just about pursuing goals, freedom and a life all about me. Those were diversionary pursuits compared to my being worth being pursued…by God.

Pursue was about relationship after all…God unconditional love for me. And pursue was about mission too…God’s mission to draw me out of hiding and into the world where I have something precious to offer.

What can be different knowing that you too are worth being pursued by God?

If God is leading you, don’t hesitate to share with the rest of us below. You never know how God will use your story to bless someone else. If we do not speak up, something the world needs from us very, very much could remain hidden. No more hiding, eh?

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