There are days that are just hard. No two ways about it. Some make choices that you can’t change or understand. Children break their parents hearts. Friends and family will fail you, maybe even betray you. Sometimes your heart is broken. Illnesses raise their ugly heads and we find ourselves wondering, how did that happen? How can it be? You will make decisions that others don’t understand or approve of, maybe even you wonder, what was I thinking?
I have shoes that I love, I’ve worn them well. They are molded in such a way it seems they were tailor made to fit my feet. They are a comfortable, safe bet. Some shoes I’ve walked in seem to belong on the feet of another. They blister, rub off calluses, pinch, squeeze and flat out hurt.
I’ve been known to kick my shoes off and walk around barefoot or in stocking feet to avoid the pain that the shoes I have on are causing me. How is that like our lives? Sometimes our journey seems so foreign, it would seem we’re really walking in another persons shoes… How could it be ours? Nothing fits. We’re squeezed, pinched, blistered, raw, bleeding. We long for comfort and peace. We long to kick off this ill fitting life and get our old life back.
Several people we love are facing very difficult journeys. They continue to look at their journey and feel certain this cannot even be their life. How can it be? Just yesterday, life looked completely different. They are broken. The pain is excruciating. They are fearful that as they continue to walk this path that this journey could toughen them, instead of tenderizing them. It could leave them with a hardened, calloused heart instead of one that is sensitive to others around them.
Most of us have had times in our lives that made us wonder if we were walking through another’s life. After all, how could it be our journey? It doesn’t look anything like what we expected. We’ve loved and been rejected. We’ve worked hard and not been rewarded. We’ve done our best, but are still put in the position of needing to do more… even harder things. Making tougher decisions, being broken over and over again.
Why are some softened and made tender through difficult journeys and others become hardened?
Recently I put a couple things in small mouthed jars using a funnel. First it was peppercorns into our pepper mill. Peppercorns are round, but rough and have hard edges. They seemed to get hung up on one another and get jammed in the narrowest part of the funnel, requiring me to push and jostle them in order to get them through the narrow space. I also put a very thick liquid in a jar. It moved through the funnel, but slowly, requiring me to only pour a small amount at a time. Later I put a thin liquid in a another container, it flowed easily and swirled smoothly through the funnel. It ended up overflowing the container and I had a mess to clean up. It occurs to me that we may be very much like this. Sometimes our journeys are rough and require us to work, smoothing out our rough edges in order to come out on the other side. But, we come out changed, smoother, less rigid. The thick liquid moved slowly, but ultimately was unchanged. The thinner liquid made a mess, was unchanged and required me to do more work to clean up the mess I’d made. While those peppercorns didn’t want to go through that narrow funnel and it certainly seemed foreign for them, they were shaped by it. I think I want to be like the peppercorn. If I’m going to go through a difficult journey, I want God to be there, nudging me along through the narrowest places, knocking off some of my rough edges, so that in the end I come out smoother and changed.
Embracing the journey where our rough edges get smoothed and we are reshaped, physically, emotionally or spiritually is something we tend to resist. That journey may be foreign to us, as if it can’t possibly be our life we are living. It’s as if we really are walking a mile in another’s shoes. But what do we learn from this? Compassion? Grace? How to forgive and be forgiven? Humbleness? Strength? The power of prayer? Faithfulness? How to lean on other’s or how to be strong when we are needed? About the constancy of God? Are we shaped and refined through our experience? Do we have a clearer understanding of the strength it takes for other’s to survive? Do we come out better on the other side of this journey?
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4 And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.” Jeremiah 18:1-4
Lord, your word tells us that you will shape us and teach us to be more like you. As we journey through our lives may we say…
You are the Potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me, this is what I pray. Change my heart oh God, make it ever true. Change my heart of God, may I be like you. (Eddie Espinoza)
I love you,