Experience

After an exhausting day of walking all over the place and sorting out my things, ready to pack in preparation for the big move out, I have contemplated possible job interviews, what I will be asked and what I will respond if I am asked about negative experiences.

These past days seem to have been a bit of a revelation for me. I’ve struggled through the most part of the last few months, fighting various issues that have left me feeling worthless and incapable of achieving anything. But here I am, and I have survived what I thought I wouldn’t. I have become more than I could have imagined, and I intend to let my life sing louder than I have ever let it sing before.

That’s what I will tell them if they should ask; my failures were not failures, they were necessary to make me fight harder and to dream bigger. Each moment is an opportunity to practice patience, love, passion, trust, endurance, stamina, joy, compassion.

It’s strange, but twice this past weekend, I have heard about the butterfly and its great transformation from that ugly, hairy, wormy caterpillar, into the dark place within a cocoon, where secrets unfold for it to become a beautiful, brilliant butterfly – not even recognisable as a caterpillar anymore. And in order for a butterfly to fly, it needs to fight itself out of its cocoon, otherwise it will not gain the strength to fly, and it will die. What an amazing analogy for our lives, in particular for the Christian life. James talks about the benefits of facing trials, because through them we develop perseverance through faith (James 1:2-4). But there is a difference in acknowledging the effects of a challenging situation, and allowing these situations to appear for the sake of these effects. One of the fruits of the spirit is joy, and true joy feels like flying, as if nothing is weighing us down or holding us back – carefree, but not careless.

Someone explained to me how we can sometimes forget that we have butterfly wings, and instead of flying, for which we were designed, we plod along, don’t get very far and are fatigued very quickly. Equally, our delicate wings can get trampled on, or we forget to show the brilliance of the colours and patterns that reflect God’s glory, creativity and capability as Creator and Father.

For too long now, I have seen other butterflies fly past me in a brilliant radiance that far outshines mine. I have seen them fly higher than I could reach. I have envied their patterns and their form, but I had forgotten that I have my own pattern and my own existence with which to brighten the world with. Joy requires a look inward. It requires the recognition of our talents and unique beauty that God has bestowed unto each of us. We cannot look at our shortcomings, that will just tear us down. Don’t look too long, or you will begin to become too familiar with what you see.

Hans Peter Royer once spoke about living the Christian life, and how we need to balance giving and receiving. He compared it to breathing; we cannot just breathe in, or just breathe out, or we will die. I believe that we cannot just look inward, but we also cannot ignore what is happening inside us. Where there is hurt, we need to acknowledge it, but not dwell on it. When our wings are damaged, we need to rest and attend to the injury. But there comes a time when, if we do not attempt to rise up again, we will forget how amazing it can be soaring through the air, discovering new places and meeting new people.

“Experience is what you get what you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.” (Randy Pausch). This is what I will tell them when they ask what I have done with my life, and how I have treated my failures and disappointments. I will tell them that through suffocation I have learnt to breathe. Through fear I have learnt courage. Through loss I have learnt to dream.

And one more thing. My God is a lover of patience. Those who wait patiently for Him will not be disappointed. (Ecclesiastes 7:8; Proverbs 25:15; Hebrews 6:12; Psalm 40:1; Psalm 37:7; James 5:7). I have learnt that when everything seems pointless, nothing goes to waste when we place our trust in God’s hands. To trust in God is to have faith, and that requires us to act first. It was only after Noah had built the ark that God performed the ‘miracle’ (if you can call it that) of the flood (Genesis 6-9). Only after human hands had dug holes in the dessert did God fill them with water (2 Kings 3). There are countless other examples throughout the Bible of how we need to put our trust in God first to see God work in our lives. And though His work is gradual and often undetectable, it is still incredibly overwhelming.

It doesn’t matter what I say. He is there. He will give me the right words. I just need to speak them.

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