Considering that the first 50 years of my life were characterized by depression, confusion, rebellion, and waywardness (love that word, so Prodigal-Son-like!), I’ve been pleasantly surprised that within the last few weeks someone has called me her mentor and two others have officially asked me to be their mentor. It appears that the Holy Spirit is providing more opportunity to live out one of my goals for my life: “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Ps. 23:6).
It brings to my mind again the truth that everything in our lives is redeemed by God. Even the twisted thoughts and actions we try to shove into the shadowy corners of our memories can be resurrected from the grave clothes. God’s alchemy transforms our dross into gold, and that process can be recycled for someone else’s good.
Richard Rohr (in Falling Upward, A Spirituality for the Two Halves of our Lives) and Henri Nouwen (in The Wounded Healer, Ministry in Contemporary Society have spoken eloquently about how our challenges, mistakes, and suffering can be turned into new life.
“Falling, losing failing, transgression, and sin are the pattern, I am sorry to report. Yet they all lead toward home. . . . In the end, we do not so much reclaim what we have lost as discover a significantly new self in and through the process. Until we are led to the limits of our present game plan, and find it to be insufficient, we will not search out or find the real source, the deep well, or the constantly flowing stream.” (Falling Upward, A Spirituality for Two Halves of our Lives)
Nouwen teaches us:
“The man who articulates the movements of his inner life, who can give names to his varied experiences, needs no longer be a victim of himself, but is able slowly and consistently to remove the obstacles that prevent the spirit from entering. He is able to create space for Him who heart is greater than his, whose eyes see more than his, and whose hands can heal more than his.” (The Wounded Healer, Ministry in Contemporary Society)
In order to leave a legacy of goodness and mercy, we must go through the process of allowing God to redeem our failings – a painful but glorious journey. It is the incarnational process of becoming a disciple of Jesus for the sake of others.
1/27/2014: I’m adding this quote by Frederick Buechner as a postscript to this post because it is such a beautiful expression of what I meant in this blog when I talked about the “incarnational process of becoming a disciple of Jesus:
“Whatever you do with your life—whatever you end up achieving or not achieving—the great gift you have in you to give to the world is the gift of who you alone are; your way of seeing things, and saying things, and feeling about things, that is like nobody else’s. If so much as a single one of you were missing, there would be an empty place at the great feast of life that nobody else in all creation could fill.” (from The Clown in the Belfrey – Writings on Faith and Fiction.)