what happens when we ascribe to new labels, new rules: new life

We can be blind to what we’re attached to–the ideas and beliefs that direct our decisions. But I am realizing that God will use anything for his purposes. There are no limitations for him. Which means, what I have labeled as good or bad, better or worse, may not be the way God sees at all. 

I have been conditioned, for instance, to believe that a long life is better than a short life; wealth is better than poverty; health is better than sickness; success is better than failure. But are they? Are all of these demarcations so black and white?

I am learning I have a small, limited outlook on the world, viewing hardship and trials as bad, things to be avoided. But what if I, instead, have an outlook that is indifferent to the world’s definitions and labels? Won’t this indifference free me to have a mindset that is expansive–more open to how God moves and sees?

I admit my prayers are largely shaped by a mindset that is bound by what the world tells me is valuable. Pain is bad. Illness is bad. Failure is bad. Poverty is bad. And on one level, of course, these are not conditions that we might readily seek to achieve.

But if I have my mind and heart turned to God–trusting that he can use everything that he has created for his purposes–and his purposes are always good–who am I to say that what I’ve long defined as hardship isn’t, ultimately, what will be perfect and exactly what I need?

My hard and fast rules on what is good and what is bad have warped my vision and made me see small. While I believe there is good in the world–and there is evil–I want to believe that God can expand my mind and heart so I can see more like him. After all, I am capable: I am the daughter he has created me to be.

Over the last month, as I have spent time digging deeper into my story, asking God to guide me to look at moments in my past–even memories long forgotten–or ones, even, that I never, without God’s eyes, could ever truly see. I see a lot of hard stuff: a lot of pain; a lot of sadness and disappointment; and I see a lot of love and joy too. Rather than labeling the parts of my story as good and bad–what if I left the labels up to God? 

How would he define my story? What does he see?

So if my insecurities and shame have caused deep fear and pain, does God label those things as bad? Of the choices in my life that I deem my biggest mistakes and regrets–the things that I wish I never did–does God shake his head and decide I am worth less now and am more difficult for him to love?

How do my labels on my life–and on the world–cause me to misinterpret what is true? How does my limited view of the world–what I define as good and bad–cloud my vision, making me miss the redemption and glory he brings in the midst of pain and grief?

What if I am missing God’s wide-open, anything-is-possible outlook? And what would happen if I adopted it? What if I adopted a new way to see? And then, rather than the world’s definitions of a life’s success and failure, I let God’s view of love define what is good? Can I let nothing else–but God’s love–matter at all?


Join me in exploring the idea of labels on our life–how our rules and perceptions about good and bad might interference with our experiencing God’s more open definition of love. Consider writing a poem as an instrument for this exploration and self-expression. 

What, to you, feels black and white? What is your definition of good and bad? How has God, in your life, redefined and redeemed what previously felt like something bad, something to regret and feel shame? How might you consider God’s not ascribing to the world’s strict lines of value and demarcation, and, rather, want to help us break those rules wide open and live in a world that is less ours and more his own?

Please let me know your thoughts–and write your poem below (or here). I can’t wait. 

Bless you, brave one,

Jennifer


Tethered

Who can say a dream is weightless,
without cost and measure,
a disturbance of time—
not actualized in action,
a belief that you are held by
a single thread
of fragmentary imagination,
and pulling will amount to
breaking what could never stretch.
But this is no fragile dream,
an occasion to tiptoe and
tread with bare feet.
No, it is a time to push
out of the shadows
of daydream and seize
the dragon’s throat:
I will slay him now.
Watch this.
You ready?

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com