Turning 31 … again

A birthday ramble:

When I turned 31, I lived in Little Rock. Megan was about to turn 3; Graham was still just a gleam in the old man’s eye. I had a good paycheck coming in, but my employer was headed toward bankruptcy. Our young church was torn by division. I was about 4 years out from the onset of Crohn’s and the wreckage that would follow. There was a lot of trauma in the next 31 years.

Tomorrow I turn 31 again. As I embark on this third (last) set of years, I’m done with big shots and big talk. I’m done with consumers who pretend to be Christians, organizations that pretend to be church, and programs that don’t facilitate transformation. I want to walk with kingdom-minded people who yearn to see captives liberated and taught to walk in God’s ways. I want to yoke up with visionaries who can see God’s justice restoring hearts and multiplying through communities. I’m glad to have several friends in here who have that heart, as well as a few in the “real” world.

An awful price has been paid for the Lord to bring me to this place in life. I don’t want to waste what he has invested — or what I have endured. YHWH Pattish has worked hard on me. I want him to be proud of his handiwork. Whatever this tool is that he has hammered out, I want to be useful to him.

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The gift you didn’t receive and didn’t know you needed

When you had something you knew was precious and lost it, you can grieve that loss. If you grieve in a healthy way, you can get to a better place.

But if you never had that precious, important thing, you may not even realize what is missing. Before you can get to that better place, you have to understand this kind of loss. And then you need to process that grief and figure out how to move forward.

For example, a young man may have had a father who was emotionally or spiritually unhealthy — or just absent altogether. He grows up not receiving the gift of having a good father and has no way of knowing what he has missed. That vacancy in his heart may leave him ill-equipped to be a man himself, to be a husband, to be a good father, to be a mentor to young men in later years. It also will hinder his ability to relate to God the Father.

Many people are stuck in an unhappy place because of that second kind of loss. Paradoxically, if we get help identifying the gift we never received, we may have a new opportunity to receive it.

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