Landing On Your Feet
Last week, I received news that rocked my world. News that caused me to lose my footing. I can’t elaborate on it much right now, but suffice it to say that I will be experiencing some big life changes in the next few months. Don’t worry, I’m not terminally ill and no one has died.
The news, which I will talk about when it is appropriate, came as a complete shock. I woke up on the morning of the 3rd in one reality, and went to bed in a completely different one. It felt like a car crash. I spent Tuesday evening in shock, wondering how just a few hours before, everything seemed so normal. It was surreal, it felt like a dream where I was falling and didn’t know how long it would be until I hit the ground.
I quickly entered into rapid cycling of the stages of grief. I used to think that those stages lasted for months, and maybe they do, but they can happen in the span of 5 minutes as well. I was a ball of anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance. It was disorienting to say the least. I feel bad for the people at the 4th of July parties I attended; I was basically a zombie incapable of normal human interaction.
What surprised me the most, however, is how quickly my wife and I came to terms with what had happened. How quickly we landed on our feet. A few years back, we had to fight to get to a place where we could acknowledge the fear we were feeling, and move on in unity. We would spend months worrying over the thousand what ifs that come in situations of uncertainty. We would make decisions based out of fear of the worst case scenario, and live in a constant state of anxiety. I’ve come to realize that really the only way to measure spiritual growth is to have things like this happen, and expose the reality of our spiritual situations.
Since it has not even been a full week since receiving the shocking news (again, I’ll speak about it more specifically when I can), I know that we are early on in the process of coping and moving forward. But, we are on our feet, and thinking clearly about how to move on. A sermon that I listened to by Tim Keller about justification illuminated the fundamental issue that has allowed us to accept the situation, and identify what the foundation of our life is.
Basically, the issue is one of our spiritual foundation and identity. In the past, my identity was so tied to my profession, or ability to provide for my family, that any failure in those areas left me feeling unqualified, like I didn’t have an identity. What I learned during those times, is to shift my identity, or my justification for existing, from circumstantial realities, to spiritual realities. Specifically, my identity as a son of God, redeemed and empowered by the life of Jesus, His death, and resurrection. My identity is not my annual salary, it is not the house I live in, it is not even my family. Fundamentally, my identity is in Christ, and that is the foundation for my life.
When those other things are stripped away, my foundation is never shaken. I was reminded of the parable of the men who built houses on two different foundations, one on the rock, the other on the sand. When the storms came, the house built on the rock endured, while the house built upon the sand was destroyed. The beauty of the parables of Jesus is that they gain meaning beyond the simplistic explanations we were initially given, usually in times of trial.
By the end of last week, after the shock started to wear off, my wife and I realized that our foundation was still secure. A storm had come, knocked over a few trees in the yard, and broke some of our windows, but the house was left standing. We spent little time mourning what was lost, and instead focused on the fact that our house was still standing. We landed on our feet because we weren’t standing on flimsy structures that led us to believe that our identity was based in something circumstantial.
When have you encountered a trying situation, and how long did it take you to land back on your feet?
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