As our soulcare group gathered on Zoom, someone asked a question that continues to linger in my thoughts: What is the biggest choice you now face, and how do you see it affecting your authenticity and your relationship with the Holy One?”
I think it’s a wonderful question, drawing me back to things that matter as I consider the choices that face me each day, some smaller and some on a grander scale. I knew that evening that my answer had to do with finding ways to engage more deeply in community, particularly during this pandemic time when some of my usual ways of being in community aren’t available. And though I couldn’t spell out exactly how, I knew that choice was intricately bound up with my own growth in becoming who I most truly am in relationship with God who is, at his heart, community.
Often, though, as I set out to make a choice and move intentionally in a new direction, I encounter barriers and need to pause and work through them with God before I can continue moving forward.
This time, I tripped over one of those rocks as I had a first conversation with a potential new friend. As I listened to her story and tried to tell mine, I discovered myself feeling inadequate. And as I pondered and prayed after the conversation, I began to see why. I was comparing. And I was comparing not only our stories, I was comparing her outside to my inside. More specifically, I was comparing the confident, competent outside of her to the inside of me that often lacks that confidence.
I wasn’t only comparing myself to her, I was comparing my before-Afghanistan-self (doctor, healthy enough to work) to my after-Afghanistan-self (part-time writer and spiritual director, limited by chronic illness). And I was using the world’s values as my measuring stick, forgetting that I love what I’m now doing, and that God brings us into an upside-down kingdom where our Lord and Leader inaugurates the kingdom by walking through death, making the last first, the weak strong, and giving the kingdom to the poor in spirit.
As if that wasn’t enough, I had also fallen once again into the trap of feeling I had to earn acceptance, forgetting that belonging is sheer grace, part of our birthright when we’re born into Christ and, in and through him, into a new family and body.
So here, for the moments you feel inadequate and forget that you really do belong, are a few reminders—because I suspect I’m not alone in sometimes needing them:
- You belong—not because you’ve earned it, but because of God’s grace. And even when you forget, it doesn’t change the truth: “We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body. . . . If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong in the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body” (1 Cor 12:13, 15).
- You matter. God has made you just as he wanted you. Your uniqueness is a gift to the body of Christ: “…God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?” (1 Cor 12:17-19)
- You are God’s own work of art, intentionally designed and intricately crafted to reflect something of his own being: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph 2:10, NLT; see also Gen 1:26-27; Psalm 139: 13-14).