Second chances, double blessings

Today is the 22nd July 2017. It is a year since I first visited Minneapolis/St Paul (MSP), Minnesota and as some of you may know my heart has desired to move to this area at some point. My reason has been to continue the passion in my soul to sing, teach, study and creatively express The Word of God, in community.

Where it all began:

This time a year ago I was nervous and excited at the prospect of a new beginning — a new people and community that I would find common language with and with whom I would also get to witness the birth of a new ministry. This new ministry facilitates the socratic scripture circle practice of teaching, something that I have been involved with for years.

I knew that aside from anything I had to leave many things when I was arriving in MSP. I said out loud on more than one occassion, “I gotta show up and I gotta show up well!” and ever since I think I have probably been working at that. The statement was authentic and truly how I was feeling. I also felt that I was being present to the invitation it was posing and I hungered for connection.

I was present to the people, I had some quick friendships form and even had a new friend take me up on the offer of coming to Ireland to explore the land and the people there. During the winter season of being back in the UK I experienced many people from Minneapolis reaching out and good relationships really started flourish. In my own eyes I was showing up well, even when I wasn’t there, though it seemed I was still carrying a lot of baggage, and these two things really were not complimenting each other. In fact this was even summed up in the very physical reality of not being able to catch a flight because I had too much luggage to bring to the USA and immigration wanted to check my motives. I did see something in this, and to be very honest I didn’t like how it felt. In my acknowledgement that I had to leave many things I seemed to have picked up “showing up well”. Baggage is baggage!

Showing up well:

Various trips to the area looked like I was making progress with the agenda I had set. I spoke life to people and met for long coffees and went on delightful walks. I encouraged people to lean into choices and to pursue things that they may have been sitting on the fence on. We laughed and cried and searched and asked. I told the story of my heart and found beauty and authenticy in the eyes of the people. People seemed to like me and it felt good. I liked them too, very much! Such wonderful friends and conversations. It was and is very real!

What I hadn’t seen starting to happen was that I had started to desire more than what I was experiencing and I didn’t like this feeling. It started to feel like that saying, “wherever you go, there you are.” Environment wasn’t going to heal the brokenness that my insides were feeling but the people were listening and the expansive space of not knowing where I was going became the invitation. I had started to search for a role and an answer and I grabbed at people and things when I should have known better. In showing up well I had not addressed a very deep place in me that needed healing, a place where trauma was embedded and I was embedded in, and a brokenness I felt didn’t warrant healing, especially if I was trying to start over and really “show up well” in community.

Showing up well started to lose it’s power and it began to transform into showing up perfect (maybe it had been that all along), showing up without any issues, without any pain or loss, without needs. My reactions to things and people started to propel from these emotions and feelings and I started to withdraw from my own process. Showing up well became the story that I told myself and others and addressing the pain and brokenness inside me became the thing I was trying to hide. The problem was that I wasn’t going to get away with it that easily and a couple of friends started to ask the hard questions.

The turning point:

When you start making mistakes you have a couple of choices. You either scapegoat the world and comfort your pride or you slow down and see that it actually happened, you actually aren’t being kind, you actually aren’t always getting it right and repentance is the turning point for thinking about the way you think. It is lamenting and knowing that hope is right there in the middle of it all.

So, as I ponder these things in my heart with hands open vs the “showing up well” me coming forth, I am amazed by the grace of God and the grace of the people. Grace is going round the same mountain for years and always finding your way back to the entrance to the presence of God. Maybe I am finally ready to enter. Maybe the experience of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 in the biblical text is real life. Maybe she was desperate and hurting and always chose the process but could never quite enter. Until she did.

Hannah, which actually means Grace, desired a son but the language in the text translated more accurately is “a seed for the people”. She offered her desire, irritation and reaching and prayed without ceasing that something far greater than what she could come up with would come forth. She prayed it would be for the people and she knew that it could only come from her! She knew she had the capacity for it and that her husband loved her. He did after all keep on giving her a double of portion every year at the time of the offering. Her husband loved her despite God closing her womb. He loved even though she was bringing nothing forth.

A second chance:

This is very much at the heart of my experience. The last year of discovering a new people and city and arriving at this anniversary seems to have been about preparation and living into a lifetime’s experience up to this point being the marker for “second chance”. Where I find myself right now is at the moment of second chance. That double blessings are second chances, they are the meat in the midst of famine and the truest essence of grace. Often we wrestle with a grace that is all about undeserved favour. Deserved or undeserved isn’t the starting point. Provision in the midst and walking the path of barrenness, the arrival to a beautiful generative understanding that grace existed before the fall, before we could do anything for God and in the midst of being just loved by Him.

The second chances are always available to us and that, to me, is a part of what it means to be given a double portion in the midst of a season in life when you aren’t where you thought you might be at 35 years old. Where you aren’t doing what you always thought you might be doing and what you are nearly living into the dream of. When you aren’t with the husband you have always wanted or having the physical child / or seed for the people you have always dreamt of, when the broken pieces of your past make you think that it might not ever happen.

Sacred second chances are about discovering a Father God who always is the second chance, not because the ball is in His court but because it is in our playing field. It is found in the joy and connection and the glances and rooms and the communities. The second chances are the double blessing of acknowledging the story up to this point, experiencing the pain and the joy and walking before Him as your source, your entrance point and your beloved on a more intimate level than you could ever have known.

The journey continues:

I return to Minneapolis with a second chance and a deep hope that all favour will come towards me as I lean into Him. That I will be still and see the Salvation of the Lord be the double blessing before my very eyes. I am so grateful. I am graced. Thank you for being on the journey with me, whoever you are reading this. You are my witness and I hope I can be accurate witness to you too.

Where have you seen second chances and double blessings unfold in your life? Have you ever thought about grace as being a space as much as an experience?