A dear friend reminded me this week that “faithfulness may be measured not by what one feels in a given moment as much as by how one walks through that moment.” He added that it is the way I walk through the difficulties that will change the way I travel in a profound way. I know my walk is the classroom in which God teaches, and my motto has been “What’s God’s message for me in this experience?” The teacher in me also understands that the greatest lessons are those which come from my mistakes and poor choices. The notion that God will take my sin and transform it into something beautiful is a new thought that sets my heart free and captures it at the same time.
Hiding and running have given me comfort in the past when I found myself in the midst of circumstances which confound me. It is in the confounding that I find wonder. Thomas taught me that. I don’t have to understand the journey; it is, in fact, the traveling without the need to know when, where, what, and how that makes the walking through a powerful time of learning, healing, and connection. It is the need to know that makes the entire journey miserable for me and those around me. Nothing ruins a trip more than someone who constantly worries or lets the navigation cause them to miss the sweet fellowship.
Relationships made along the way make the journey a joy and the ride a relevant one. It isn’t about getting there or finding the way but rather enjoying the journey and forging friendships. We are all connected whether we want to be or not. I cannot dismiss those with whom I disagree. I can walk around them if they get in my way, but I must acknowledge them and identify what is creating friction in my heart. When I bristle at someone’s comment, I have to see what is in my heart that is giving the surface for it to create that friction. That is a painful process but one that cleanses away those things that need to go.
The opposite is also true. When I find a kindred mind or heart, there is something in my own heart that desires connection. I can relate to the positive and want to attach to it. I have a dear friend who loves God more than anyone I know. From the first moment I saw him, I wanted what he had. Henri Nouwen says God will connect to God, and that’s at the root of those beautiful connections God allows so I can walk through the difficulties as well as revel in the beauty. I get to choose whether to connect to the positive or let the negative cause me to run and hide. I’m learning to embrace the love God places in my path and step around the negative.
I’ve never walked through fire or been on a bed of nails, but I have navigated some treacherous territory. Knowing that God and others love me enables me to walk through in a way that draws me nearer to the Source of all love. I have come to thank God for the sleepless nights when I argue or negotiate with Him about continuing down the path He sets before me, and a big part of the learning has been the way I feel when I make it through that tunnel or across those hot coals. I’m glad He cares enough to listen quietly and loves enough not to acquiesce. I’m also eternally grateful for those He allows to walk beside me.