There’s a story we’ve heard all too many times. An influential person, be that a celebrity, a politician, or even a local pastor, somehow falls from grace through a statement made or an act that exposes them to be living and participating in unhealthy patterns of life. Some pounce on these individuals to parade them as case studies of why we should constantly be wary of following any individual with power. Others use the event to turn the light on the masses, as a way of reminding each of us of our own personal shortcomings and unhealth.
I must admit that I strive to land towards the latter, attempting to allow these situations to serve as guideposts. Somehow they remind me of the need for transparency and vulnerability with others, so that instead of hiding the unhealth, it allows those closest to me to share in my journey.
In the last few years, I’ve noticed that I’m not alone in this and there has been a movement of people within faith communities that is attempting to embrace this journey. We own our failures, we don’t attempt to hide where we need to grow - instead we are vulnerable and transparent with it all, and in turn have experienced the depth and power of grace in our lives.
Over the last eight years, I have met with a counselor wrestling over all the baggage of my past. A few months ago, my counselor began to affirm all the growth he had seen in me. He named what I was experiencing, that a new season had begun. I knew this was occurring but like many others, I only knew how to carry my baggage as some sort of merit badge of authenticity.
I didn’t know how to allow myself to be ok with being healthy.
There is a story you might of heard that Jesus tells, where a son choses to take his inheritance early from his father. He leaves his family and from all accounts makes about every bad life choice there was to make at that time. He hits rock bottom and realizes that a life back with his family would not only be better, but was what he desired. So he returns to his family.
Like this son, we all have the ability take steps towards health – and some times they are literal steps away from the things that have taken us so far away from the life God intends for us. Let’s be clear, this isn’t to say that there isn’t still work to do, but every journey starts with a step. It’s ok to acknowledge along the way that you are a healthier version of yourself.
The story Jesus tells doesn’t end simply with the son returning, but rather as it continues, we hear that as the son was still off in the distance the father sees him and rushes to his side and lavishly celebrates his return. And this is what occurs when we choose health, our great Father celebrates with us and delights in us, for we are embracing our true selves as the people He created us to be.
Now, the story doesn’t end at the party but instead with the father talking with his other son who is resentful of his brother. It’s reasonable to assume that this brother is happy for the other’s return, but he can’t understand why, after all the other brother has done, should he be celebrated for coming back to such a full extent.
More often than not we are the other sibling. We are resentful of those who are able be healthy. So much so, we question if it’s legitimate or if it will last. We struggle to allow another to be ok with being healthy, or name where they are at. Possibly, this is because we don’t believe it is ok for us to acknowledge where we are at – healthy or not.
This was my struggle. Yet, when I was finally able to admit to myself that I was in a healthy season of life; I was able to fully receive the support of the people I hold most dear as they affirmed all that they saw taking place in me. Through which I found that I was able to trust where God was leading me in ways that had eluded me for years. I was able to trust how I was discerning where the next right, best step was leading, even though I didn’t know where that path is headed.
For some of us, we need to acknowledge that we are in the midst of unhealth.
For some of us, we need to finally stop and take a step towards health.
And for some of us, we need to allow ourselves to celebrate the growth that we have made.
In the end, we need to remember that it’s ok to be ok. There is no shame in that. For when we do, we might discover God’s presence in our lives in a new way.
Adam Lorenz is striving to engage, to dream, and to pursue the best possible life with the people he loves and in the community he resides in. He has received his Master of Divinity from Western Theological Seminary, written for Sparkhouse, a frequent contributor at Thirty Seconds or Less and writes at www.adamlorenz.com. Follow his daily thoughts on Twitter at @adamlorenz.