I don’t know when you last did something that terrified you, but I did something just last week that felt “scary beyond all reason” to quote one of my favorite Disney movies. I wish I was exaggerating, but it was one of the hardest things my peace-loving heart has ever done.
And before you give me too much credit, please know that nothing in me wanted to show up.
I wanted to run as far away as I could.
I wanted to hide.
I wanted to keep pretending things were fine.
I wanted any solution other than what Jesus was asking of me.
I wanted to avoid my clumsy anger as long as humanly possible.
I wanted easy over better.
I wanted comfort and familiarity over healing and restoration.
And I felt like throwing up.
There are all sorts of catch-phrases about courage and being brave and fighting fear. I’m sure you’ve heard some of them.
“Let your faith be bigger than your fears.”
“Show me how big your brave is.”
“Be bold. Be brave. Be you.”
The list goes on.
And as nice as it would be to have one of these help get me through something terrifying, that wasn’t what got me there. These ended up falling short; feeling cute at best, taunting at worst.
What helped me get me to the edge, ready to jump and trust and show up, were some questions.
Jesus asked me these simple but deeply profound questions from Whole, a book that he placed in my hands in the time I needed it most. These questions forced me to be fully honest with my own heart about the reality of where I found myself and what Jesus was asking of me.
- Where are you?
This question forced me to stop hiding and come face to face with the love of Jesus, who I don’t ever need to hide from.
- Am I my brother’s keeper?
This question made me wrestle with the uncomfortable truth that my healing and wholeness is tied to the “other” being made whole.
- What are you seeking?
This question made me name what it is I want and make me name that restoration is my true heart’s desire.
- Where are you going?
This question pointed me to my next steps, where I had much to give up, with only a promise to cling to.
- What will you bring?
This question forced me to surrender so much of the comfortable tools and tricks that I wanted to bring along on this journey. My hands had to be empty to have room to receive whatever Jesus might give me as I follow him into the unknown.
I don’t think we ever get to a place of deep-soul work with catch-phrases or half-heartedly believing that healing would be good. I had to wrestle with the pain of these questions, inviting Jesus to help me look long and deep at my heart. I had to get to a place where I knew I had to be healed and whole.
I think the only way we get ever get to this place of leaving familiarity is trusting our story FULLY to the one who both wounds and heals, the one who kills and makes things come alive. I think the only way I got my feet out the door and on the path towards wholeness last week is by confessing that I wanted to be healed more than I wanted to stay in the comfort of familiarity.
I’m reminded of what Hwin the horse says upon meeting Aslan in the Horse and His Boy. She should be terrified by the lion in front of her, who might devour her in a second. And she is shaking, yet she looks into his eyes and tells him that she would rather be eaten by him than be fed by anyone else.
I believe that the Scriptures tell an overarching story that leads to wholeness, but the Scriptures also include stories of heartbreaking brokenness. We prolong our pain when we try to fix the brokenness without going on a journey of restoration, which includes additional heartache, questions, and long periods of waiting.
Steve Wiens, Whole (xvi, preface)
How I wish for wholeness without the journey. How I hope for restoration without the pain and wait and heartache. How I want to skip the hard work and get to the beauty of redemption.
But as I asked my heart those deep, hard questions, I came to a place where I knew that I only had two choices.
I could show up and risk being eaten by Jesus; or I could drift into a place of safety, being fed by comfort and familiarity, yet slowly fading and dying a slow, soul-numbing sort of death.
And that was when I knew I didn’t want to be fed by anyone but Jesus, even if his food felt like the worst and scariest thing possible.
That my courage last week paid off and I’m doing so much better.
That I’m feeling healed and whole and happy.
But the truth is that I feel like I left Egypt and now find myself in the wilderness. I’m still sorting things out and asking my soul hard questions. It still feels horribly messy. I feel like the days of not-being-sure-I’m-going-to-make-it sometimes outweigh the hopeful, good days. It still feels more like a wound than being healed today.
But even here, I’m clinging to this benediction that this messy place that I find myself today is part of the journey towards wholeness:
May you hear the compassionate voice of God calling to you as you suffer in the wilderness. May you smell the fragrance of freedom as you leave behind the narrow place. And may you see the horizon of the Promised Land coming slowly into view.
Steve Wiens, Whole (128)
I try to be as honest and sincere and kind in both my criticism and my praise, so it isn’t often I say this, but this book changed my life. Jesus put Whole into my hands at the moment I needed it most and these pages helped me to be brave in one of the most terrifying things I’ve had to do yet. Steve is a humble teacher and a good storyteller. As I read, I felt like I was at the feet of the best of teachers, one who has been there too and has a heart for others to learn and grow. This book has helped me do the deep soul work of asking good, hard questions about what is broken in my life and what needs to happen to experience real restoration.
This book is gentle yet unwaveringly forceful; empowering and the best kind of frightening, as it invites the reader to show up to the brokenness and ask how to be made whole. Steve’s first book, Beginnings spoke to me in a deep way and this one has followed suit in its own powerful way. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. A+ for me.
*I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher. My opinions are my own.
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