Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Wall

I ran track in high school for one season and one season only. This is because my coach thought that I would enjoy running the 400 meters and the 4x4 and I'm not sure my body agreed. He taught me early on that by the beginning of the final 100 meters of those races, if I were running them well, I should no longer really be able to feel my limbs. I should hit "the wall" but as long as I kept pumping my arms, I'd hit the finish line whether I realized it or not. Needless to say, the thought (and experience) of that wall was not something I enjoyed and so the following year I tried out for the musical instead. Better fit.

As I've been reading a book called "The Critical Journey", I've really been struck anew by this idea of the wall. Much like what I experienced in that final 100 meters, the wall, in spiritual terms, is a place that we can hit and feel profound disappointment, confusion, doubt, anger, bitterness...and for many of us, we don't even know why. The idea of this book is that we are all on a spiritual journey and throughout our lives may experience any or all of these 6 different stages. Some of them will be easy for us to experience and others will be really difficult.

I think I've spent about 15 years hanging out in "Stage 3: The Productive Life" and avoiding moving on. Stage 4 is called "The Journey Inward" and for someone like me who thrives in Stage 3 it is not an easy stage to move into. I think that for years my soul has been yearning to move on but my lifestyle has prevented it. I've taken too much pride and self-identity in what I could "produce", in using my "gifts", in striving hard to be loved for what I've done rather than who I am and haven't wanted to venture on into the uncertainties of that journey inward because, frankly, uncertainty is terrifying. The book says this makes for a pretty lonely person. Yup.

The thing about moving from Stage 3 to Stage 4 is that we often have a crisis that shakes that stability of Stage 3 and propels us on. This has been true for me as it has for most and I think I spent the last year hitting the "wall" of Stage 4, which is to say that I've done a spectacular job of pushing aside my questions, ignoring my frustrations, not dealing well with grief and loss and just sort of trying to magically push through that wall, which is actually an impossible thing to do.

One thing about the wall that the authors talk about is that you have to be willing to give something up when you hit it. I've spent awhile thinking about this and am pretty sure I know what God is asking me to give up. I'm also pretty sure I'm not ready yet. I'm not ready for my legs and arms to turn to jelly and to let God propel me that last 100 meters. I'm still too scared and stubborn. But, I'm hopeful that in the coming weeks and months that God will continue to work that surrender out in me. That He'll not let me stop at 300 meters and call it quits, because He knows the pain is worth it and that at the end of that last 100 meters, I'll realize that He is the only One that could've ever brought me through it anyway. I want to know that and believe it, so I'll continue to seek and wait and ask for the courage to surrender.

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