Last night we heard two more beautiful stories, both of which offered the precious gift of vulnerability. I found myself thinking about them as I lay my head on the pillow last night and again as I rose to run this morning. Both of these stories are being shaped by relinquishing, by letting go of something.
A young woman shared the damage that the perfectionism she had internalized had wrought in her life and of the freedom she had found in making the decision to walk away from formal education as a bright and motivated student who was paralyzed by the fear of failure. Relinquishing expectations and opportunity has begun to heal the harm perfectionism has caused her. She concluded with eloquent tearfulness, as she described something else that has caused her pain over the years of which she is being invited to let go: her perception and experience of a profoundly masculine God. This belief has led her - as a young girl and as a woman - to question what it means for her to be made in the image of God: something which God intends to lead to wholeness and identity security, but which for her has led to feelings of somehow being "less than" simply because of her gender. As she opens herself to experiencing the femininity of God, she is continuing her journey towards wholeness and shalom.
The second story we received has also been deeply shaped by relinquishing and was told by a young man who is a relative newcomer to Communality. His two decade search for a life and community that embodies his evolving understanding and experience of the God of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures has led him into voluntary homelessness in Lexington. He shared his experience of being invited by God to be homeless for a season, to relinquish the security of home and the stuff to which he finds himself deeply attached. I found the gentle and authentic spirit with which he told his story compelling and it has continued to cause me to reflect on my own need for security and control, and the comfort I find sitting in the midst of my books, something which he has specifically chosen to relinquish.
The gift of story is profound and one for which I am deeply grateful as I seek to live more faithfully into the Story of God.
(I found the image for this post online, but was unable to identify the artist for which I apologize.)