Both/And

I’m reminded often as of late of approaching life with the lens of “both/and”, not “either/or”.  I first put on these new lenses while I sat at my father’s bedside as he died.  Up until that day I thought life could only exist in “either/or”, I could feel one way or I could feel the other.  But at dad’s side, simultaneously I felt both the greatest sorrow I had experienced to that point in my life at the loss of my father, but also the deepest joy and peace that dad was free from the chains of this life and I was so glad for him.  In my grief that followed, I also experienced at the same time the awakening of my soul.  Perhaps I could feel two things at once, and perhaps I could feel them more deeply when experienced together.

As I live with my new lenses I am seeing that this new approach lives out in many ways.  I notice for instance that if I seek to bestow true forgiveness to others in life and the freedom that it will give me, I must at the same time delve deep into the pains and hurt that caused the wounds in the first place.  I don’t know about you but that pain and hurt were enough to experience the initial time around, why go poking around into the mess again?  This time around I don’t go by myself though.

My Brother offers to hold my hand, illuminating our path as we enter into parts of my heart that have been locked away.  I offer the key and we go together.  God shows me where He was present all along before, I was just blind to His presence, and where He is now, His Love large enough to catch every tear and heal every wound.  When the great Healer comes in to make me whole again, my new self is what identifies me, not the old self of victim and shame.  Forgiveness can come from this new place, with these new lenses.

I learn along the way though, that a companion of forgiveness is confession, my own confession, “both/and”.  I must reach a place where I see the depravity of my own sin, the plank sticking out of my own eye.  The more deeply I confess my own sin, to own it, I can receive forgiveness myself.  The Healer comes to me in a different way, to remove my plank and set me free.  What I learn from the gift of mercy is how it is bestowed, with gentleness and with compassion.  This was a “both/and” I could not see before.

I hid away my confession because I thought it would be met with judgment and anger, I was bound by fear.  The longer I have spent in the embrace of Love I rest in its assurance so fear is driven out and I can let my guard down.  Confession can flow more naturally because now I know the “both/and” it is accompanied by is more Love.  How is that possible?  Because it is Divine Love, not human love.  As I confess myself and receive compassion the more willing and able I am to grant forgiveness.  A snowball starts rolling and just won’t stop.

If I desire more good in my life, more love, more freedom than I must be willing to experience the “and”, the suffering, the loss, the pain, the death at the same time.  I can not separate the two any longer.  If I fear the pain then I will settle for a shallow love, “either/or”.  Instead, I can choose courageously to step deeper into Love but then Love will also call me to step deeper into the pain, I will have to experience “both”.  But deeper, Holy Love promises this, to never leave me or forsake me.  It promises me to see life with this new set of lenses, a new teaching, a new yoke, that will not burden me any longer, and with it my new self, my soul will find rest.  It is in giving that we receive and it is in dying that we are born again into something new, into the eternal.

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