This morning I was surprised with a lovely gift from a student and friend who is close to my heart. I've had the honor of being part of her journey over the past year as she's begun the process of discerning a call to ministry. I've felt such joy and excitement for her, and also a little worry and protectiveness as I know how difficult it can be. My heart has hurt for her more recently as she has gone through a difficult time personally. She shared that this was the first painting that she has done in a while, and she wanted me to have it.
It is one of my most favorite gifts. What a gift of incredible beauty...her painting, her gift, sharing her heart, sharing her growth. What a perfect metaphor...the butterfly, a symbol of rebirth, of resurrection, of Christ.
It is such a reminder to me of the gift of the past few years. Not so long ago, I felt cocooned in the darkness of depression, hopeless about my job and my own gifts. It weighed on me personally, emotionally, and spiritually. My family felt the effects, and yet, I felt powerless to change. I kept praying through the suffocating darkness that God was preparing me for something...different....better...just anything else than where I lay, immobile, stagnant.
And then one day, it happened. The gift of new life was such a surprise. I emerged from the cocoon and could feel my wings. I saw color and light, felt the breeze, embraced hope again. I took off and soared, experiencing the joy of new life once again.
Sometimes, I take this gift for granted. More often, I question it. Will it last? What if it doesn't? What new things are ahead? Sometimes the tasks feel so big, and I feel so small. Sometimes I feel so unworthy of these gifts. I see others struggling and I remember the pain of that. I want to free them as God freed me. I wonder why I was given such a gift when others struggle, empty-handed. Ironic, huh? I pray for new life, and then struggle to embrace it once it arrives.
I'm learning, though, that the struggle was part of the gift. It's a reaffirmation of my calling, which was given to me in verses from Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,2
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn
I have been brokenhearted, I have been a prisoner (to my own fears and doubts), and because of this, I know the way out. The Way for me was Christ, holding on to faith, to the hope of salvation even in doubt. Now, from a place of empathy, from a place of healing, I can proclaim good news. I have been given this gift, and it is mine to share.