In yoga, savasana brought me to the awareness of my deep-water faith experience yet again. In His kindness, Jesus threw me a little floatie out there because He could see I was not resting or walking or floating. I was flailing. While I caught my breath there in the obviously-made-for-a-child floatie, He let me have it.
“You’re waiting for everything to be well before you’ll trust Me and let go control. Do you realize how backwards that is?” God, how could I miss it?
As I pray for my children, I sometimes scan their bodies from top to bottom in my mind and ask God to affect their thoughts, what they see and hear, what they say, their emotions, their actions, and their direction. I claim to give God permission and sovereignty over every part of their lives, but I usually take back what I perceive as control a few minutes later. This is not the faith I profess, but it is built on literal decades of practice and habits, many unhealthily formed in my childhood.
Fr. Richard Rohr speaks about the three boxes of spiritual development: order, disorder, and reorder. We are born into a container with inherent rules and guidelines. Later, we might deconstruct or question those structures, and that leads to disorder. Finally, when the pieces settle and we allow in the occasional paradox, we experience reorder. There’s no way to skip a box, and in fact, for someone born into total disorder, that longing to experience order can last a lifetime, wreaking havoc. Fr. Rohr has done extensive prison ministry and sees this phenomenon firsthand. Finally reaching a point of reorder is what he and others call the “second half of life” spirituality. Some earn this kind of maturity early on, because of things they had to endure or roles they had to fill. Some older people never get there at all. A “second half of life” mentality accepts the loss of control and lives peacefully for the other. No longer amassing “stuff”, she instead pours into people and teaches others from her store of wisdom. Dr. Brene Brown speaks and writes on this topic, too, about the idea that everything must fall apart, usually around mid-life, for the pieces to come back together again in a fruitful, satisfying life. The “falling apart” could take the form of illness, or the death of a loved one, or a job crisis, or major family strife, or something else all together. The common denominator is that it’s an event so large in scope, and a problem so uncontrollable by human means, that it breaks apart our assumptions about our own power, leading us to acceptance and dependence and, finally, peace.
This road I’ve been on since the death of my mother over five years ago has had ups and downs, but through it all, it seems like major challenges have made themselves known one after another. It’s a lot of disorder, and I’m eager for the ‘re-order’ portion to begin. I’m ready for things to look differently and I work at a perception shift like it’s my job. I know what I need is grace.
When I am singing at church, talking with a friend, or teaching a student, I feel that “second half of life” perspective. I feel the peace and power of God working in me. But somehow when I’m by myself, in my own head and spirit with just me and Him, I’m still a child in a floatie. Out in the deep water, but nowhere near ready to swim. I wish it were as easy as a decision or a moment, but it seems less like flipping a switch, and more like treading slowly forward with a heavy pack on my shoulders. It’s hard for me sometimes, and I’m tired. The prayers I pray for my kids, I now pray for myself.
affect my thoughts (mind)
what I see and hear (eyes and ears)
and speak (mouth)
affect my emotions (heart)
my actions (hands)
and my direction (feet)
In Jesus’ Name, Amen