Friday, July 9

Redefining Never

On my way to eat sushi a couple of nights ago, I remembered the very first time I came across this delicious genre of food. I was walking with friends through Queens on a hot summer night. We passed by a restaurant with a store front window...and there it was...sushi. I imagined how awful it must taste, how terrible its consistency would be, and right then and there I swore I would never try sushi. Fast forward four years to a friends' kitchen in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They were big fans of creating dinners from the Food Network. They were also big fans of sushi. I came to a moment where I had no choice but to give it a try, and from that day forward, sushi became one of my favorite meals.

This memory got me to thinking about all the "nevers" I have swore to.
*I would never move to Rochester.
*I would never wear capris.
*I would never ride in the front seat of a roller coaster.
*I would never ride a sky coaster and free fall through the sky.
*I would never want to be her friend.
*I would never live in Florida.
*I would never hurt anyone with my words.
*I would never leave him.
*I would never be confident enough to sing my own songs on a stage.
*I would never do THAT again.
*I would never give up.

But I have done all of these things. And so many other things (good and bad) I thought I would never do.

I began to think about the idea of "never". Using that word was often like using a mask to cover up fears; fears of the unknown, fears of being found out, fears of finding out that there was something better than what I was holding onto, fears of change. Sometimes, it was a denial of what was really going on, a denial of my need for healing and trust. Sometimes, "never" was a hope that things would change.

There are absolute truths that should be held onto in this world. There is beauty in standing up for what is right. There is peace that comes from constancy and loyalty. I am thankful for those nevers.

But then there are those nevers that awkwardly stand out and call attention to themselves. These are the ones that call us to change. They might also be the most painful to admit to. But without change, life becomes a stagnant pool of water. Without change growth does not occur. We cannot be refreshed, and we certainly cannot refresh others.

I sat with a dear friend this week. She told a story that spanned several years and very much reflected my own; so much so that I teared up several times throughout its telling. And because of her story, I felt that my own story was much more understood. I didn't feel alone. I didn't feel so lost. She had faced so many "nevers" in several different ways, but because she had allowed herself to be changed by God's love, her "nevers" dissolved into a beautiful love story.

I wonder what would happen if we surrendered our "nevers" to the love of God. I wonder what would happen if we let love define our choices; instead of our preconceived notions, our prior experiences, the opinions of others, and the untested doctrines we have chosen. What would happen if we accepted the fact that change is really okay?

We don't have to be the same person we were yesterday. We don't have to be defined by our past. And if our excuse for falling short becomes, "Well, that's just who I am", then we have forgotten love...for ourselves, for others, maybe even for God. We have chosen the word never and denied any hope for what could be.

If my life had stopped at never...I can't imagine how it would look...
*I wouldn't have known the joy of the people who live in Rochester. I wouldn't have a home here. I wouldn't have such a rich history of God's love and work in this city.
*I wouldn't be going on my 8th annual trip to California to visit a friend who intimidated me before I really knew how amazing she was.
*I wouldn't have made so many amazing friends, touched so many little lives, been so refreshed and healed, been so inspired to keep writing music, traveled to so many different places, or have been close to my family...because of living in Florida.
*I wouldn't have had the chance to move to Nashville.
*I wouldn't have been so heartbroken over my own faults and then so aware of the hurt in others...if it wasn't for walking through relationships...and learning how to love well.

This list could go on and on.

Life without change, is not life at all.

God meant for us to be changed. He meant for our lives to grow brighter and brighter. The Bible says that His mercies are new every morning. So many times God says that He is doing a NEW thing. In Revelation 21:5 says that He is making "all things new". Maybe the first step towards walking in His to look at our own "nevers" and ask Him which ones need to be changed.

I posted a picture of water running through my hands. That stream was so refreshing to us girls that day. It brought so much enjoyment and laughter during our time there. It was beautiful! As I was holding the water I was thinking of the things in my life and how there was very little that I could hold onto. But that was the beauty of the stream. And that is the beauty of life. Things will never be the same. The rocks, the water, the banks, the sediment are constantly in a state of change. But the flow of the water is constant, as is the constancy of God's love for us and the promises that He has made. His rivers of living water will continue to long as we allow them to...and along with them will come the cleansing, the refreshing, the changing, and the healing He wants to bring.

Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We're free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18

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