“If we can muster the courage for the initial choice, we expect affirmation and blessing.”
It is a moment of being invited to grow up. It is usually an unwelcome invitation.
When we make a difficult but wise choice, something in us expects that the world will rise up and bless us.
And sometimes that does happen: Mary’s sign from the angel was Elizabeth’s encouraging proclamation.
But sometimes… not so much.
We are looking for affirmation and we get complaint.
It happened to Mary of Bethany, when she made the bold and wise choice for devotion, learning, and self-care and sat at Jesus’ feet. Martha complained. Jesus defended her.
It happened to the woman who anointed Jesus. Again, a bold and courageous choice for devotion, voice, vulnerability, and service. Judas complained. Jesus defended her.
It happened to the Syro-Phoenician woman. Yet another bold and faith filled choice to seek healing for her daughter from this Jewish Rabbi. This time it was Jesus who challenged her at first: 27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” But when she persisted, Jesus called it faith and did as she requested, healing her daughter.
It happened to the woman with the hemorrhage. She took a great risk, illegally being in the crowd, reaching out to touch the Messiah. What a bold and courageous move! And it worked; she was healed. But the story did not end there. It wasn’t enough for Jesus. He insisted that she come forward out of the shadows and be known. What terror she faced. What deep healing she found.
Each story began with a courageous choice for positive change. Each choice was met with what looked on the surface to be, or likely felt like, a negative response.
If we can muster the courage for the initial choice, we expect affirmation and blessing. In fact, we crave it. But affirmation may well not be the greatest good for our souls, the path to our deepest joy, or the way new life happens. And, importantly, as we see in the stories above, lack of affirmation is certainly not evidence that God is not blessing us. Hard things can be beautiful, too.
Sometimes we need to learn to hold our space in the midst of upsetting the family system.
Sometimes we need to allow others to face their own brokenness as they rail again our bravery.
Sometimes we need to learn to persist in the face of being challenged.
Sometimes we need to be stretched even further beyond our comfort zone than we bargained for, all for the sake of a healing we never imagined possible.
When I see the pattern of “less” becoming “more” in God’s economy, I find new hope and vision to face the resistance I find within and without.
When have you dared positive change and been met with a negative response?