Today I noticed how deadly familiar things can be. Well maybe I just noticed that they can be deadly at all. Maybe to life. Probably to love. Certainly to progress.
But they feel good. They feel like home….warm, safe, and accepting. I touched something familiar and I was okay…but only for a moment. That moment when your guard could come down but you hold your breath instead, like you’re waiting for it to pass you by like you expect comfort to never last. Like this moment is only this moment and there is much more to live for on the other side of mirages of freedom. Freedom from the weight, the worry, the wait, the strain.
Familiar. But then I exhaled. I buried my face in the strength I personally equipped my past with. I told it my secrets, taught it how to maneuver around the fronts I hold up and left the back door so wide open that it wouldn’t have mattered at all. Anyone who knew it existed was more than willing to walk in. I waited for someone to walk in.
The problem with excusing yourself from the weight of the present moment to breathe in the familiar is that deep breaths are often taken with our eyes closed. Physical. Spiritual. It really doesn’t matter. They’re closed nonetheless….at least for me.
I shut off my view of reality so that I can more clearly see the reminiscent fine prints of what should have been beneath the blazing banners of what really was. I take it in. Who I was. Where I was. How intact my pride and maybe my heart were in that moment. I breathe it out….reality.
I forget in that moment that I’ve minimized the burden of blessing that I carry today to frame my management of what used to be as successful. I don’t remember that those days weren’t easy when I was standing in them. I forget that they seem lighter because of the muscle surviving them built in me. Sometimes I push away the reality that my ability to manage yesterday does not adequately define who I am today because it fails to measure the unfolding of destiny from one day to the next. It certainly fails to recognize that tears of faith in a palace are not beneath the boasts of togetherness in the pit.(In regards to success.) Maybe that makes sense. Maybe not.
But one things for sure, I’ve forgot how far I’ve come and some days that makes familiar things hard for me. Some days that makes me feel as if the success and confidence I held at entry level roles is more commendable than my sometimes stretched and exhausted self that is seated in places of leadership and destiny. Not so. Like possibly the girl that didn’t know any better but to be boastfully broken should somehow be regretful of the woman who silently, and some days ashamedly, now sacrifices in alarming ways because wholeness is a priority. Not so.
I recall the Israelites in Exodus 13: 17 “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘if they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’" It’s so crazy to think that God would purposely take them down a more rigid and painful path but he knew of dangers ahead that they didn’t. That wasn’t necessarily death or destruction but the familiar. It’s deadly. The Israelites knew of the Philistines and the Lord knew that if they saw the army and the threat of war that they were all too familiar with that they would forget why they left and turn around. I forget who I am and want to turn around. Familiar.
But the Lord didn’t lead that way because he wanted to deprive them of familiar comforts. He chose wilderness to steer them clear of familiar fears. They say that retrospect is 20/20 but when I’m hurting today I seem to look back through rose colored glasses. I deem lowly places I crawled out of as “easy” ignoring that the same days left me alone or without. I view the tragedy’s grace snatched me from as minimal in comparison to the mountains ahead of me because stress this morning makes me forget last year’s tears to just have the opportunity and anointing to be able to climb. It’s easy to feel nostalgia about the days that my life was empty of so much pressure and accountability and responsibility until I’m reminded that they were also void of purpose and vision and destiny. But they’re familiar.
Familiar failures entice us because we believe they are more manageable than the unknown lessons that wait ahead. Maybe so. Maybe not. But regardless of the strength “greater” requires, settling securely is not comparable to reigning victoriously no matter the cost.
God I thank you, and I’m grateful enough to keep my hands from grabbing hold to what is familiar because I understand the severity of dropping what you’ve placed in me for today. I fear that the peace I have with yesterday’s war may never be found for what I face right now but I trust you. I trust you to lead me away from the things that you know will distract me or scare me away from forward. I trust you enough to accept the paths through wilderness and waters that are preparing me for promise.
Someone told me to become comfortable being uncomfortable and I honestly just don’t know how…but I trust you. Even when I’m tired. Even when I’m afraid. I pray that I find the desire to be pressed and shaken and stretched today…if only for your glory.