Begin Again

Let begin, again.

Let’s start the conversation and move forward. We certainly won’t be picking up where we left off, time stands still for no one. Walking in the everdayness of our lives, we celebrate who we are in this stage of life and move forward – today.

This reprise was not something I expected being away from writing for so long. I have come to accept there are seasons in life – coming in waves as circumstances ebb and flow in and out of what you expect life to be and how it truly is. Grappling with what once was, what you hoped for and what’s before you now is a daily dance.

Often we have been told life is what you make of it. You can reach the “American Dream” if you work hard pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. “Work Hard, Play Hard.” Anthems that are meant to inspire us and bring hope can actually have the opposite effect. What once inspired can run through your mind taunting you for where you are now – your lack of success, your lack of achieving your goals and the daily fight you face as you strive to move on. How did I get here? How did this happen? Words designed to encourage and inspire become the medium for self destruction and shame.

The dream you chased turned into a false sense of reality revealing that the American Dream is not all it’s crafted to be. The relationships you make, the organizations you join, the community that surrounds you may not be the place where you truly belong. Upon this realization your life spins out of control. All you took for granted or crafted into your daily life has been turned upside down – everything that was, is no more. Like any other transition, unrealized hopes and dreams can bring an onslaught of emotional pain to wade through. Navigating the deep waters of accepting who you regardless if anyone else stands by your side.

It’s not like you got where you are right now in life without making choices. Of course you made choices, and with good intentions too. But we don’t all have the same life story. Choices are hard. They are carved out of living through social and cultural experiences: broken families, abuse, trauma, pain, physical disease, financial ruin and difficult times. Standing alone facing a different world than you once felt comfortable in is terrifying.

Life is beyond your control. Unexpected things happen that you can’t reign in. Becoming self aware and moving into wholeness is not something for the faint hearted. It’s hard work. It’s purposeful. It’s intentional. Learning to breathe through adversity and begin again is more than a choice – it’s a gift to yourself.

Breathe.

In John chapter 8:3-11 this story unfolds:

 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group  and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus was in the village and Scripture says the teachers of the Law were looking to trap Jesus by His teaching and His words. They brought this woman caught in adultery to Jesus, encircling her they threatened to stone her. In that moment of accusation they looked to Jesus for his authority and teaching on how to handle this woman – “Now what do you say?”

Breathe.

In that moment you can feel the tension. The woman terrified for her life, the mob of men angry and taunting Jesus to twist His teaching and use it against Him. So what does he do?

“… Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.”

What?

He paused.  All eyes were on Him.  He spoke, His words transformational.

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 

Breathe.

With that one sentence Jesus taught us what we all need to hear. Mercy triumphs law. Jesus knows what the law says about adultery, yet this woman laid bare before Him mattered more. There was more to her than what others saw in her. She was not a result of her choices or circumstances. She mattered. When justice was sought, mercy reigned.

If there is anything you can take away from this amazing story of Jesus Christ is that you matter. That love is much more transformational than religion and its laws. That knowing a person and their life circumstances and what they go through is part of their story. All the men and the teachers in this story could only see the outside of her but Jesus knew her heart. He knew her story, her choices, her circumstances and even why she does what she does. Have you ever stopped to think about that? 

Jesus knows.

No matter what is going on in your life right now, Jesus knows. Perhaps it’s not going the way you want it to be or something unexpected came your way. You lost your job. Your diagnosis is terminal. Your depression battles you deeply.

Whatever it is and however it looks in your life – Jesus knows.

I know the upside down, turned around unexpected life. No matter what choice you made today, remember that tomorrow is another day. At any moment you can choose to follow the one who brings hope to the darkness in your life, and mine.

Jesus waits for you, and for me, to sit at His feet and look into our eyes and say

 “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

Say it with me, ” No one sir.”

No One! What looked to be an ordinary day of stoning according to the Law become a day of mercy and grace in the heart of a woman saved by love and the ministry of Jesus Christ. I am that woman – you can be too.

Breathe.

Allow yourself to sit at the feet of Jesus, hear His words of healing as He whispers to you. 

Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Remember those choices I talked about, this is the only one that matters. 

Choose Jesus.

Everything is a choice

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Sometimes – we think we have control.

That somehow we can control our future and our present. Believing that  the choices we make right now determine our future. Right? I hear it all the time, “everything is a choice.” We choose our happiness, we choose to love and be loved. We choose.  I’ve told many people myself that same thing. But here I am, pondering it a bit deeper for a moment.

Straight from pop psychology and self help books – you grab ahold that you do have the power to choose and you walk forward ready to conquer the world. With dreams intact you look to scale mountains and climb up to heights you dream about. You stand ready and are excited for what’s in store. You choose to move on. But ask yourself just this one question.

Is everything  a choice?

Ask the person in a hospital bed fighting for their life from a car accident not their fault. Ask the person abused and neglected in their family unit constantly living in fear. Ask the person who lost their job and hence their home due to cutbacks at work. Over and over again things happen beyond our control in our society and in our own lives.

When it seems that all your choices have shriveled up. When the cards are stacked against you and the circumstances handed down your way don’t play out like a royal flush. The hope you once saw before you now appears like a glimmer of reality.

What do you do when you think you have no choice?

Is it really your fault that you’re lying in that hospital bed? Is it really your fault that you are victimized in your own home? Is it really your fault you lost your job? Think. Isn’t that what we are saying when we imply that “everything is a choice?”

This type of logic promotes avenues of doubt, self blame and insecurity to fester and grow. Surely we don’t mean to say that the victim is at fault. Whether you were victimized by a family member, a friend or someone you don’t even know. No matter the circumstance or the situation – accident, abuse, neglect. You are a victim – and….

You are so much more than your choices.

Often a victim looks and sees themselves through the eyes of their circumstances. How did I get myself into this hospital bed? What did I do to deserve to have this person abuse me so? Why was it me who was cut from my job and not someone else? We question ourselves and our circumstances fighting a battle to not allow ourselves to be defined by them.

I am not measured for my worth by what’s happened to me. Oh no. I am so much more than the situations around me right now – and so my friend, are you. Yes – YOU.

I don’t know the situations you face. I don’t know your story. I just know mine. I have nothing to offer you, no cure, no quick fix, no lie that its going to be easy. But there is one thing I can share that is so true that you just might find a bit of hope, a tiny nugget of light in dark moments of doubt.

Jesus is the way, the truth, the life. (John 14:6)

He is the answer. He is the hope. He is the reason I can share with you this very moment. He will show you the path to peace in your doubt. He will guide you along the way to find hope. He is the only one who can calm you, heal you, and bring you deep and lasting hope.

We are people created for love, for oneness and for community. We crave relationships, intimacy and depth to how we live. We want more. We strive for more. We yearn for more. Yet we want peace. So consider this, the path we walk, the choices we make along the way, have a great impact of those we love.

We do have choices, but not everything is a choice.

It’s time to no longer live as a victim. Learning to balance our lives and find the ways we can choose life, love, forgiveness and I’d add, God so we can find peace. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He promises us to guide us, but we must let Him.

Consider making that your very next choice.

Jesus.