Swimming seems such a metaphor for dancing between inner and outer, water and air, soul and ego, life and spirit, ethereal and material. There’s such fluidity; the body weighs next to nothing, yet resistance is eleven times greater than on land. Everything’s cloudy down under: warm, dark and womb-like. Mystery beckons. The body is burdensome once it surfaces; shockingly so when you set your foot on the top step. Much more personally alluring to glide back in.
And yet the land and air sustain us. We can not live naturally under water.
I am more comfortable inside and stumble navigating the external. I was abruptly reminded of this in the locker room as an acquaintance discussed a recent college visit with her high-school daughter. I silently gasped at the numbing amount of tuition she rattled off. “No worse than anywhere else,” she said.
What if you don’t have the ability to work full time, like me, to earn tens of thousands of dollars I silently mumbled. I am coming to terms with imbedded bitterness, feeling robbed of a career 15 years ago because of a car accident and the onset of fibromyalgia. Of all places to voice it, it spilled out in worship week before last. The message focused on women encountering Jesus at the tomb after his resurrection and yet they were not considered credible. In example after example, Jesus uses worldy weakness and turns it around.
Including in me, I said.
It surely was nothing I wanted to say out loud, in church, but the way it arrived and I bucked, then stood and had no idea what I was saying, I identified it as vocal ministry.
Three times last week, I heard references to fruits of the spirit or spiritual gifts and I understood it was time to pay attention. Once as I was channel surfing checking the weather and evangelist Joyce Meyer stared at me and said that everyone’s all interested in spiritual gifts, but we need to focus on the fruits and the fact are lives will be long suffering. L–o–n–g suffering.
The next day I found myself outside of Panera, bumped up against to a pre-teen and middle-aged woman during an informal confirmation-counseling session, mostly discussing the girl’s spiritual gifts.
Sunday in worship a friend also referenced the fruits of the spirit.
So I have begun to play with gifts (wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, kinds of tongues, interpreting those tongues, etc,) and fruits (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control).
While looking up the Joyce Meyer quote, which I jotted down, but never did find, I uncovered a letter from a teacher of both of my daughters. It was a thank-you note from last spring. She ended it with “You are a very special mother and I await the news of all the love and good your daughters will bring to our earth because of your love.”
I think I was supposed to find that today as I tottered among guilt for not having ample material wealth for my daughters, finding my gifts and looking at the fruits of the Spirit evident in my life.
“I am always comparing myself and falling way short. How can I look at myself with new eyes, God, your eyes?”
I soon understood that, although I am called to work outside of the worldy system, I am still judging myself by it.
Don’t use any of its values, especially NOT to judge yourself. Use mine and don’t judge. Just love and enjoy the freedom of who you are in all of your glory. Break free, I release you.
• How do I dance between external and internal, worldy and divine?
• When the world butts in, how do gravitate back to Spirit?
• What are my spiritual gifts?
• What fruits have I experienced?
• How has God released me?
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