Not This

How many of you stayed in something too long, and looking back you can see the actual time it became too long? There was the time when it was time to go but you held on because it was known, it was safe, there was a pay cheque, you were afraid, and it’s when you stayed after that time the thing went bad on you.

There are seasons in life, and when aseason ends, it’s OK.

Something can be good, and it’s OK to end it while it is still good.

There are rhythms and cycles in life, in nature. Day moves into night, winter moves into spring, childhood moves into adulthood. In our modern lives we have become more and more disconnected from the natural rhythms of nature and at the same time seem to have lost the ability to know when one season in life has come to a natural end. Perhaps it’s time to rediscover the power of cycles and seasons. This thing was great, and now it’s done! It’s not done because someone lied or cheated, it’s done because it’s done.

Sometimes we get the sense something is ending without knowing why. We get the sense something is dying and the only reason its dying is because there’s some new thing that wants to be birthed. The temptation is to panic, put the brakes on, become numb to it, rather than let it die, grieve it, and move on.

Sometimes we know something is ending but we say I’ll let it end when I know what the next thing is. We want to leap straight from one stepping stone to next without getting our feet wet. We have a sense it is time to move on, and we even know the direction we need to move in, but we stay because we want to know the details. It’s like we are afraid to trust, afraid that we are misguided, afraid that without the affirmation of others we will make some terrible mistake. But take away the risk and we take away the energy that sustains us and all the things that shape us.

Some of you will be in a situation where all the energy around it is instructing you that it has ended, but you can’t leave because you don’t know what the next thing is. There is an incredible power in the two words not this. Those two words are enough to know that it’s time to leave.

  • What are you going to do now? I don’t know, but not this.
  • Where are you going to go now? I don’t know but not this.
  • Where are you going to live? Not this place.
  • What church are you going to? Not this church.
  • What job are you going to do? Not this job.
  • Who is your partner going to be? Not this partner.

Don’t ignore those two words. Not this is enough. If you ignore not this your soul will become appalled.

If you wake up every day and everything around you says not this, but you say I must because, then your soul will become appalled and you are going to start breaking. Your soul will find ways of telling you. Maybe though sickness, maybe through exhaustion, maybe through anxiety, but your soul will find a way to tell you that you cannot do another day.

So, don’t wait until you know what the next thing is. If everything is crying out not this, just go. Just throw a rope over the wall and rescue yourself out of there. Don’t let it get to the point where your soul is appalled. There are some places where it’s better to walk away with nothing than to stay there.

Credit where credit is due

This post is heavily inspired by a Rob Bell podcast featuring Elizabeth Gilbert. You can hear the whole thing at: https://robbell.podbean.com/e/live-at-largo-with-elizabeth-gilbert-part-2/

Living at the edge of faith

Many of us find ourselves living at the edge of faith. We have moved consciously or unconsciously away from the centre towards the margins, from certainty to uncertainty, from black-and-white to shadows of grey. We have left behind the safety of the crowd, the security of looking to others for the answers, the identity of the exclusive tribe. Instinctively we know that we can only truly exist in a place where doubt, questioning, wrestling, and change are not only permitted but valued.

For some this has been almost effortless, a liberating journey, a burden dropping from our shoulders with every step. For many more this journey has been a gargantuan endeavour. Living with uncertainty can be exhausting especially when we have been conditioned to believe that it is harmful and ultimately sinful. Many of us would return to certainty if we could, but once you have seen you cannot unsee, once you have tasted you cannot untaste.

Some of us have found like-minded people to journey with either in physical communities, or online via blogs, podcasts, and social media. Many more have found that the margins can be a lonely place. We may not have been shunned or ostracised – although many are – but nevertheless find ourselves without a community. We may still attend a church or faith community but even so have no-one to journey with. Without another with whom to talk through our questions, doubts, hopes, and fears, we can become bogged down, unable to go back to our former life but unable to move forwards to a more healthy place.

That’s why I am creating a new Facebook group ‘Undogmatics: living at the edge of faith’. It will be a safe place to share, question, discuss, and connect with others who are living at the margins. It will be a closed group so contributions will only be visible to other group members. Honesty will be valued but respect for one another will be paramount. If you have learned to thrive on the margins you may be able to encourage others. If you are just trying to survive you may find sustenance along the way. If this sounds like it may be for you, please get in touch in the comments or at undogmatics@gmail.com and I will send you an invitation.