Jesus said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, but forfeit his own soul.” These days there are many things I am striving to gain and as a result I stand in a fight for my soul. Some might call this spiritual warfare. Others merely human psychology. Either way, I suspect that the same nature that allows human beings to flourish in the freedom of discovery and transformation, can also allow us to flounder in the depths of despair. What I mean is this: God could have created us healthy, whole,and put together but that is not how our creation story was written. We are called good, but not anywhere close to perfect. Made from dirt. Messy. Unrealized potentiality. Isaiah similarly imagines human beings not as vessels hardened and immovable, but clay that is still soft enough to be formed and shaped. Even the slightest touch makes an impression on us. Changing us in small and dramatic ways. The question becomes, “Who, or what is shaping us?”, and “Do we even notice?”
I believe that the shape we are taking is a direct result of what we seek to gain and how we seek it.
I am currently looking for a job. More than just a paycheck, I am looking for a place to live into my calling. A place and a people to serve. An opportunity to share my gifts and pursue my passions.
Unfortunately, my hunger to serve in professional ministry can easily morph into idolatry. I am tempted to make my greatest source of hope a new position to apply for. A new role to daydream about walking into. A new name plate on a new office door. Believing that my worth as a person can be validated by a job offer. Being shaped by this desire inflates my ego, feeds my perfectionism, and heightens my insecurity.
I am thankful for the painful moments when these delusions have hit the floor and been broken into pieces like finished pottery. In the “rejection” and waiting, I have gained a fresh vision of who I am and who I want to be. Without being distracted or numbed by the endless tasks of a “productive” full-time ministry, I am more aware of the wounds within me that cry out for healing. Without the recognition that comes with being in the spotlight, I am able to see the ways that I fail to appreciate the uniqueness of who God has made me to be.
No longer leaning on these preferred identity markers, I am more open to being formed by God’s presence, seeking the kingdom before anything else.
When we embrace our vulnerability we are able to be shaped into something more by God and our neighbor. What seems to be our weakness then is our strength, allowing us to be transformed without breaking. Our shapes may alter, but the project is able to continue, becoming more beautiful and stronger as a result.