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I haven’t yelled at my kids in three weeks and this is what I have learned…

Before I made this commitment to not raise my voice for one year, I was not living a life of congruence, and I still have many more steps to take.

I had given up and I didn’t even realize it. I had given up on the hopeful dream that I exist because I have something unique and beautiful to give, instead of just being here to endure and minimize the pain.

“Sixty years ago I found myself distracted,” Eugene Peterson writes. “A chasm had developed between the way I was preaching from the pulpit and my deepest convictions on what it meant to be a pastor.

I could paraphrase this quote from him and make it my own…

“I find myself distracted. A chasm has developed between what I profess and what I live, between what I believe and what I portray.”

In the collection of his sermons titled, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Peterson (creator of the Message) writes, “The Christian life is the lifelong practice of attending to the details of congruence – congruence between ends and means, congruence between what we do and the way we do it, congruence between what is written in Scripture and our living out what is written, congruence between a ship and its prow, congruence between preaching and living, congruence between the sermon and what is lived in both preacher and congregation, the congruence of the Word made flesh in Jesus with what is lived in our flesh.”

Friend will you take minute and read the beautiful, short poem As Kingfishers Catch Fire that Peterson took as the inspiration for the greater part of his life? You can access it by clicking HERE.

Speaking of this poem, Peterson says the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins “piles up a dazzling assemblage of images to fix our attention on this sense of rightness, of wholeness, that comes together when we realize the utter congruence between what a thing is and what it does: kingfisher and dragonfly catching and reflecting sun brightness, a stone tumbling over the rim of a well, a plucked violin string, the clapper of a bell sounding. What happens and the way it happens are seamless.” He expounds to say that the dragonfly, the plucked string do what they do because they are determined by biology and physics. We do what we do either because of, or in the absence of Christ. Christ is congruence, “both the means and the end playing through our limbs and eyes to the Father through the features of our faces so that we find ourselves living, almost in spite of ourselves, the Christ life in the Christ way.”

Am I?

Am I living the Christ life in the Christ way?

I read that first quote, that awakening and understanding from Peterson. “Sixty years ago” Do I have a sixty years ago in me? Doubtful. Maybe I have a fourty years ago left in me. Do I want to waste it?

Victor Frankl says the power to live a meaningful life, to get it right the first time, even amidst intense suffering or mind-numbing drudgery is to…

“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now.”

These wrong acts of mine are a denial of Hopkins words, “What I do is me, for that I came.” These wrongdoings are my disbelief that Christ can really as the poet says “play in ten thousand places,” including me. I disbelieve and forget my destiny, and in this I act wrongly because it feels as if there is no longer anything at stake and my hope fades.

Sometimes those wrong acts are a hurtful word, an angry tone. Sometimes they are my true feelings hidden away so discreet that not even I can find them anymore. Sometimes they are saying yes when I am too tired, sometimes they are saying no when I need to show up and serve. How will I know? How do I know?

Congruence.

Christ in me, in spite of me, because of me, making me who I truly am.

It is time to live congruent. I have watched life birthed from my womb for the last time. Husband, children, love, community, church – I am full and still I tread the verge of emptiness so many days. I walk resentful between everything I have to do, and what I had hoped for as a girl. 

My infant daughter will be a girl soon, and she will dream. It is time to believe in dreams again so that I can go with her to where they live. It is time to choose joy in the everyday so I can show her its sanctity.

It is time to believe the dream that I can be who I was made to be.

It is time to experience the Word made flesh, Christ playing. Playing.

To say I am here, willing to drive to another practice, to gather the groceries and read lessons aloud. I am here, and this is my joy – in this moment.

To say that I must go now for a little while – to stare at butterfly wings and think my own thoughts, to remember the dreams that used to nourish me. To walk with my Father so I will know who I am, and what He has to give through me. 

To stop saying loudly what I do not mean, and send truth straight and quiet as an arrow – to the heart of things. 

To never be afraid of living congruent, not hiding essence behind a mask. 

I hope decades from now, I can say that this late summer merging into autumn I saw my distraction. Slowed by a year of newborn days and watching her grow I awoke to the chasm between Word and flesh.

I decided to allow God to mend – to stitch belief right back into this earthly body life. Real as her in my arms, magic as the days running into sunsets and moonrise, kingfishers, dragonflies and the new being she is each morning.

Real as Christ in me. Congruence.

. . .

If you’re reading this and want to join me, or would just like to listen and glean encouragement from others, please feel welcome to join us in the Gently + Quietly FB group!

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