I have just spent four incredible weeks with good friends and colleagues, training and being trained, being creative and in meetings, celebrating the past and planning for the future.
As I come to the end of this time which ended last week, something I have been reflecting on for a while is taking form for me. I have been pondering the effect of crisis and pain on us as human beings. In one of the units of a course that I have been involved with delivering over the last few years, we teach that every significant, emotional experience leaves behind a bruise in the human psyche, the pain from which can be triggered off by similar experiences throughout the rest of our lives. It can be both an individual and a collective experience. During a time of need we can adopt patterns of behaviour and ways of operating that protect us and help us survive and deal with the pain of the bruises. The dilemma is that often in protecting ourselves, we separate ourselves from each other and often, God himself. But what if those patterns, habits, measures and the separation they bring, become foundational to my character into the rest of my life?
I have been living with the verse 1 John 1:7 which talks about how the blood of Jesus is able to wash us clean from everything that separates us from each other and from God, so that the past needn’t contaminate our current reality and we can experience authentic togetherness, community, fellowship with one another and with God himself. When I engage with this amazing message of grace, redemption and joy, I feel myself smile on the inside!
I have been part of teams, churches, families and communities that have institutionalised their adaptations to pain and human failing and in so doing, forfeited the grace and forgiveness that was theirs and the depth of fellowship that we all long for.
As we lay foundations for the future are we using those eternal truths that echo the nature of God’s heart or are we content to lay the rocks of our own making that have been hewn out of the pain and failings – both our own and those of others – from the past?