There is no such thing as a smooth transition.
I’d like to find one if I could.
I prefer the director’s cut, the compelling story so cleanly contained in a singular rise, the heart-wrenching climax, and the tidy resolution.
But do those actually exist?
Doesn’t Hollywood trick us into believing that our life ought to follow a straight line?
I am mostly thinking here of my time at Mercy Hill-- I'll no longer be their Student Ministry Director by month's end-- but like most things, it makes me think of everything. How, with each transition, we are left feeling that some things have been done while other things have been left woefully undone.
I began my time at Mercy Hill as a burgeoning oak tree diseased by termites of doubt. I have only ever wanted to be a shade under which people could find their rest from their scorching and unforgiving lives. Kasey and I had just gotten married. We hoped to open our home a little bit, open our life a little bit, and afford people the rare opportunity to take deep breaths in our presence.
We hoped we could show students that they weren't human doings, not human appearings, not human consumers, not human sayers, but human beings who are beloved children before they are anything else. What else did we want out of our marriage, but to find ourselves beloved and to find others beloved?
Oh, how ordinary life makes us all look like fools. We all harbor such foolish hopes, hopes of learning love and growing joy in our backyards and throwing a bit of light in the dark places both next to us and around us and maybe even inside of us too.
But we live our lives in zip codes, not box offices, which is why every transition reminds us of how we have fallen short.
As it turns out, we didn’t really open up our home all that much. Our hope of carefully tending our marriage as a place of life for us and others frequently gathers dust.
As it turns out, it’s a sharp turn to adulthood, and sometimes I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the days when my biggest worry was when I’d fit in time to take 8-12 pages of potshots at the American church for my final term paper.
As it turns out, doubt never really leaves you, especially if you’re in the believing-in-God-and-resurrection business. If there is a part of me that buckles underneath the silly beauty of it all, the createdness of it all, there is also a part of me that feels like all my God-talk is just a comforting tale in the dark.
We who follow Jesus gather around the notion of already-but-not-yet.
We believe that Jesus has already risen from the dead, that he is already in charge, that God is already at work making all things new, that death is already on its own death march.
We also believe that everything is not yet risen from the dead, that the whole world is not yet under Jesus’ reign, that God has not yet made it all new, that death has not yet surrendered its starring role in our lives.
And as it turns out—as I think about leaving the familiar thing that is Mercy Hill and moving into a new thing—I can’t avoid all that has already grown in our lives.
We have not yet seen our marriage become a big shade, but I have already felt the privilege of working at it with the blue eyes that greet me each morning. And that's a pretty damn good start.
We have not yet cracked the code to adulthood or loving well, but we’ve already fallen in love with a bunch of people who don’t mind learning it with us. And we learned how to set up automatic payments for our gas bill. So tell that to the haterzzzzzz.
We have not yet shaken the doubt, but we have already chosen to focus on forming habits that grow the love of Jesus in us. We have already understood that all the God-talk might well be a comforting tale in the dark, but it just as well might be a song for the ones who believe in a coming kingdom of light.