Falling Upward


Tragedy and trauma are the most likely tools God uses to break our self-made worlds in order to take us into something deeper. With Him.

The world is more magical, less predictable, more autonomous, less controllable, more varied, less simple, more infinite, less knowable, more wonderfully troubling than we could have imagined being able to tolerate when we were young - James Hollis, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life.

Too often we blow past profundity. Read it again. Ponder it for a bit. If you are in your second stage of life (as described by Rohr in his book Falling Upward), you will find yourself shaking your head in agreement. You will find your soul breathes deeply as you have come to know this truth the hard way.

When I was young, I wanted life to work out beautifully—oh, a few scraps here and there—but overall just wonderful. Safe. Controllable. Predictable in that if I did x, y, & z then 1, 2, & 3 would follow. I wanted amazing kids who loved Jesus and did amazing things for his kingdom. I wanted a marriage that was better than most (actually it is!) I wanted a body that sustained my desire to run; I wanted a place to do great community. I worked hard at developing who I was, as a Christian, a woman, a preacher, a mother, a sibling, friend, wife, student, pastor etc. Yup sounds tiring doesn't it. I didn't try to live perfect; I had grown up in a home that wasn't perfect. Perfection wasn't my goal. Excellence was, but not perfection. I was good with my quirks and weaknesses. I didn't walk around with regrets or needing to be more than I was. I just wanted to be who I was to the maximum capacity. Life had hard things, but we were moving on up.

Like the Jeffersons' Theme Song! (Oh come on, let’s have a little fun while being serious!)

We were moving on up in our vocations, family and community life. Then trauma hit and all we had built—our lives crashed. Friends, job, cohorts, visibility, money, security, etc. vanished into thin air. An earthquake, at point 8 on the Richter scale, hit and it rocked our souls to the core. Slowly, the Lord has healed and exposed. Exposed in me areas in which I had placed too much weight, given too much credit, too much precedent. That’s called idolatry.

When we give weight, credit, precedent to someone or something other than God, it’s idolatry. I had idols in my life and I didn't even know it. I can’t even tell you how it moved from being right and good to idolatry. It just did. It can happen easily. Too easily. God started hatching away at the container I had built. (By the way, Rohr says that container must be built when you're young, otherwise you can’t move into the second stage of life appropriately.) He also says tragedy and trauma are most likely the tools God uses to break our self-containers in order to take us to something deeper. With Him.

I’m so so so grateful for the breaking. I’m grateful for the trauma. I needed it. It’s what was needed to start my journey of “falling upward.”

And I’m more and more excited about living in a world that is more magical, less predictable, more autonomous, less controllable, more varied, less simple, more infinite, less knowable, more wonderfully troubling than I could have imagined being able to tolerate when I was young.

… and I pray my life, theology and teaching reflects that more and more in my second stage.
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