“For much of our lives, we live in the shallows. Then something happens – a crisis, a birth, a death – and we get this glimpse of tremendous depth. My soul becomes shallow when my interests go no further than myself…A deep soul has the capacity to understand and empathize deeply with other people – not just himself. A deep soul notices and questions and doesn’t just go through the motions. A deep soul lives in conscious awareness of eternity, not simply today…A soul especially has depth when it is connected to God.” John Ortberg Soul Keeping
This quote has gotten to the depths of me and has given me much clarity especially in the dark places of the soul where things are difficult for me or the others around me. I know without a doubt that the things that have molded me the most and made me most like Jesus were not the things knit in the shallow places, although my flesh often longs for my lessons to be learned there. Sometimes darkness and trouble is where hope is born and faith grows or changes, ‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.’ Hebrews 11:1. The change in your faith is up to you and as I wisely heard my friend, Shirley say recently, ‘now you have the scar, you need to choose how you are going to wear it.’
The glory of the scar can be swallowed up in bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, hate, judgment or ungratefulness to name a few. Sometimes we can’t change how things have worked out in our lives but our response is always up to us. Often in the deep it is hard to see how God’s glory will show up in the scar but that does not mean it isn’t there. I believe our choices are what ultimately will reveal what is hidden in us and whether God will be glorified in our response or not. Shirley, a survivor full of Jesus and inner strength, told me that she wears her scars proudly and only God can help her say that and mean it. This is a response that brings God the glory and shows God has healed her more than just physically.
Recently I was dive-bombed into the depths as I witnessed the birth of our first grandchild. My daughter became my new hero and a bundle of heaven’s sweetness stole my heart. The process was brutal and traumatizing to my daughter, her boyfriend and I. Our little grandson at 10lbs 7oz, withstood this trauma like a warrior as his name signifies. Shortly after he was born I found myself thinking about and noticing other families,wondering how many children were born through much difficulty. As I shared my daughters’ story I realized that it was a common occurrence for many mothers to have traumatic birthing experiences. I found myself praying for God to remove trauma more and more. This experience gave me more of a capacity to empathize deeply with these women.
Our main purpose is to love as Christ first loved us and often the way we do that is through our empathy and being able to comfort others with His love. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5(NIV)3 ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.’ The places of the deep are never wasted if we surrender them to Him. In the process our soul grows and our shallows lessen increasing our capacity to love like Jesus and making our scars count for eternity.