It seems like so much of living a kingdom life is a paradox. You can’t have faith without patience. You can’t have patience without faith. We are in this world but not of this world but God so loves the world that he gave and gave and gives. He’s the servant-king. The least of us is the greatest. True strength is that in our weakness, he is strong. And on and on and on.
For instance, another one that has crept up into my soul now is the paradox confidence and humility. Which really applies to everything – our faith (can we pray without confidence? without humility?) and our marriages, our work and our own self. It’s also about how much I need confidence as a parent – confidence to be in charge, to be the parent, be the grown-up, to create security and boundaries, a safe place, to raise my tinies to be citizens in the Kingdom of Love.
But none of that confidence matters without humility. Humility to know when to step back, when to surrender, when to admit I’m wrong, when to seek God because, plainly, I don’t know sometimes. Humility to be a fellow-journeyer, someone also on The Way.
Too much confidence? You’re heavy handed, laying down the law, ruling with force and “because-I’m-the-Parent-and-I-said-so” and spirits are squashed under all of the authority. Too much humility? I’m not sure, do whatever you think is best, who am I to decide what’s right and wrong, I’m just figuring it out too, you know, and suddenly you’ve crossed over to false humility.
But when it’s balanced, when they are singing in harmony, when you’re dancing, it’s one step in confidence, reading your partner-child, stepping back in humility to prayer and step again. It’s beautiful in its give and take, forward and back.
The older my children get, the more I yearn to honour not just the people they are becoming but also the people that they already are.
One of my husband’s best friends, his best man at our wedding, someone we both love dearly, is walking through the valley of the shadow of death now, his beautiful wife abruptly diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. They’re embarking on a world of chemo therapy and hospitals, relying on friends to care for their small girls, cook their meals and hold up their heads. (It’s everything in Brian not to get in his car and drive there to … do what? Just be there, he says. Pray. Whatever. But be there. When you love, isn’t your instinct always just to be be present?)
And yet, in the midst of this, she writes that she feels God leaning in close to her. She feels loved in her suffering.
It’s a paradox I can’t begin to understand. And I find I’m praying with groanings, without words, learning again to pray with confidence (Healing! Jesus! Be near and heal her.) and also with humility (We trust you and you are always good, Jesus.) In the meantime, we all live in the in-between still.
The kingdom of God is now. And it’s also not yet.
So often, I find God in the paradox, in the place in-between. Not just in parenting my children (so far, the greatest crucible for me yet, the greatest refining) but in my relationships, in my prayer, in my marriage, in my work – and I don’t think I’m alone in this.
He’s there in the thin place between one-and-the-other. We live in that tension, finding the paradox of confidence and humility, giving and receiving, the greatest one is the servant, faith and patience, weakness and true strength, love and suffering to be sweet.
Would you also pray for our friends? We would all appreciate it. Thank you, friends.