Here’s something I’ve learned in my life of faith: When I finally get there, to the promised land, the mountain top, when I finally see breakthrough in my life, I always need the same thing....another breakthrough.
Maybe you’ve been there too. The first day of a new job. Lying in a hospital room with a newborn in your arms. Your first day home from your honeymoon. The day after your EP release! You see a promise fulfilled. You witness a firsthand miracle. You are awestruck and grateful. But you are also suddenly out of your depth. You thought you prepared. But you weren’t ready for this.
Yup. I’ve been there too. That can be a sobering feeling, to realize that “the promised land” is just another steep path, straight up.
So here is what I do when I find myself in need of yet another breakthrough:
1. I remind myself that “arriving” isn’t the goal.
2. I focus on the present moment.
3. I ask for help.
4. I lean into the uncertainty.
1. Guess what, friends! We never arrive. And I promise that this is good news. What if we “arrived” right now. What if we had all we were dreaming of? Explored every country. All of our relationships were perfect. Met all of our business goals. Had every dream realized. Sounds fun? No! Sounds BORING.
Remember that verse in Amazing Grace:
When we’ve been there 10,000 years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to see God’s face
Than when we’ve first begun
Do you ever wonder about those lyrics? In that verse, the dividing line between paradise and PRISON is so very subtle. And the thing that makes “no less days” Heaven instead of Hell? Exploration. Behold I am making all things new. It’s creation and discovery that makes eternity a beautiful promise instead of a dreadful threat.
So let’s just give up on this whole “arriving” thing. It’s not gonna happen. Embrace the process.
2. How do I embrace the process? I pursue happiness and joy in the present moment. I cannot be happy in the future if I don’t know how to be happy now. Presence is joy. Getting to exist and breathe and notice right here and now is the only place where contentment or excitement can ever live. So when I've gotten hung up on arriving and figure out that I'm still not there yet, that I am right back to needing another breakthrough, I breathe. I get in this one moment. I get present.
3. Usually by now I am almost done freaking out and I remember I am not alone. So I call...scratch that..text a friend who has been here before. The text reads like this “they let me take this baby home from the hospital and she’s all I ever wanted but I don’t know what I am doing and I am not ok.” Usually just saying it helps. I let myself need something and then I ask for it. And if I don’t know what I need I talk to someone who has been there before and let them tell me what I might need until something resonates (sidenote, it’s sleep. It’s always sleep).
I know this isn’t easy for everyone. But you need to learn it anyway. Showing up for our friends is one of the holiest things we do. Loving them well. It brings us life. So, sometimes we let people get more alive and practice their godlike love on us. It’s only fair. Sometime WE are each other’s breakthrough.
4. And when all else fails I do this thing that sounds crazy. I lean into the uncertainty. I sit with it like a friend. I let it work in me. It stirs up emotions and thoughts and I sort through them. I let this capacity growing experience do all it can in me. I allow the tension to lead me places I would not go on my own. I milk it. It guides me to places in my heart where I still need healing. It takes me into the presence of a mysterious God. It grows me. And I allow it. I am out of my depth, so I deepen.
So when you find yourself on the other side of your long awaited breakthrough and you realize you are gonna need another one, and fast, try some of these. Let me know how they work. And leave your comments below. What works for you?