leaving (part 3)

Enough about me. I won’t speak for God. But maybe he’s waiting for you to let go, give up, surrender. To own up to your true self and season. Honesty and openness (with a large dose of humility) is something he can work with. Performance and striving (especially without humility), less so. This doesn’t mean it will always be this way. Nor that someday a season of returning to the familiar won’t be asked of you. But with God, it’s first things first. God knows what we need first, here and now. It might be a long list, near the top of which could be: let go, give up, surrender, and for some of us, leaving for a time.

God might surprise you along the way. God may not (or may) use what currently pushes you away, what has been difficult in this season, whether it be traditional church or community, the Bible, prayer, religious activity and service, spiritual traditions and disciplines. God may not (or may) ask you to stay in what’s triggering or increasing tension or only leading to more doubts and questions and anxiety. Only the individual can know, but sometimes, for some of us, leaving is okay, even without knowing how long. If there’s guilt and shame and fear around withdrawing, it might not be God after all. If the persistent sense says, “Stay,” then stay. But if the persistent sense says, “Leave for now,” then leave. This is when we practice discernment. For some, leaving the familiar is more destructive than staying. But for others, staying is far more damaging than leaving. It’s case by case, person by person, so we withhold judgment. At this point it’s tempting to use the familiar “judge a tree by its fruit” slogan too soon, before someone has had the time to regain their footing. Let’s not be too quick to look for “good” or “bad” fruit before the truth of a season (and its underlying motivations) comes to light.

Back to the question: “Who am I when I leave?” 

My personal answer: When the search for myself, my path, and God lead me to leave former and familiar ways, I am still one who belongs. When or if I leave (for a season, or even for good), I still belong.

If we maintain open hands and a soft heart, and inasmuch as we are confident of our belonging, we can be as unafraid of where the leaving leads.

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