Today’s blog explores the spiritual practice of endurance and the virtue of faith – what to do when our life takes an unexpected and undesired turn.
Sometimes live throws us an unexpected curveball, throwing us not only off our game, but sometimes out of the game entirely. When this happens, we have no choice but to JUST KEEP WALKING, trusting there is a reason to what might seem like madness. As I was contemplating today’s blog, the following quote showed up in my email inbox and I thought it couldn’t have shown up at a better time:
Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
—J. K. Rowling, Harvard commencement address, 2008
WOW! When everything she had known and come to rely on was stripped from her life, JK Rowling scrutinized her life to uncover what really mattered to her – her daughter and her story (for those who might not know, Harry Potter!). She did the only thing she could do….she showed up every day to her daughter and to her story. She endured and she trusted. I bet she wondered on days if she were crazy for pursing a big idea in a pond of a million other big ideas and if anyone would give a damn about HER big idea. But, in spite of these wonderings, she showed up. She kept writing. The good news is that someone did give a damn about her big idea and now the rest is herstory! 😉
We’re not all JK Rowling
No, we are not all here to pen the next best selling novel. But…..each of us are uniquely gifted to reveal love, peace, compassion, justice, mercy, forgiveness, beauty, creative expression, nurturing, service in the world in some way. God seeks to be known in the world through each and every one of us….and sometimes we have to GET OUT OF OUR OWN WAY in order for God to break through and be made known. When the world that we have known collapses around our ears, as it did for JK Rowling, we can believe that something amazing is trying to be born. When everything we have thought ourselves to be falls away, when every hope, dream, vision disappears in a puff of smoke, when we find ourselves on our knees begging for mercy because the world we have been living in has been pulled out from beneath our feet, we can expect that God wants to be made known through us in ways that perhaps we had never before imagined. The challenge for us, however, is that while we cling to surety and find perceived security in knowing the plan and the outcome, this is not how it works – as JK Rowling can attest. Instead, we have to stand there naked, stripped of everything we have known and TRUST that something is happening.
What to Do in the Meantime
The good news is that there is something we can do while we are standing there naked and working really hard at hoping and trusting. The one thing we can do is ENDURE. In other words….show up and keep walking. JK Rowling had a typewriter, an idea and a coffee shop where she could write her idea. What is the universe giving you? Perhaps it is a job to show up to each day. Perhaps it is a paintbrush and canvas. Maybe it is a child to hold and friends to support you. Maybe it is a big idea. Whatever it is….SHOW UP to that….no matter how hard that might seem on some days. Show up…show up….show up….and keep showing up. Breathe. Pray. Get mad if you need to, grieve what you have lost…then show up again. And like a seed that in the darkness mysteriously blossoms, you will find that your own seed too will blossom in time.