"Unaddressed unrighteousness disqualifies you from helping anybody". Those were the words spoken by Pastor Kevin Myers during his sermon at 12Stone today. Prior to walking into the auditorium at Central Campus, I sat in the breezeway sipping on my Hot Chai Tea - it was unexpectedly cold today. The temperature had suddenly dropped bringing with it a chilly and windy Sunday. I looked around and people watched thinking the same thing I always do - "get ready to be judged Cheli. You have not lived up to their expectations. You have not lived up to His expectations. You have not lived up to your expectations". I judge myself this way at church because this is how I have always viewed holy ground - A place you come to be humbled and judged. To be reminded of how far you've fallen. To be reminded how far you are from greatness. I joke about my disposition by calling it "catholic guilt". My mom was raised Catholic so I figured it most be in my DNA - the tendency to be incredibly hard on myself. But today was different. Today I recognized something that was there all along, but with new eyes...and ears. No, I haven't reached greatness. I have not arrived. That was true. Also, it wasn't a disappointing thing. Because today I learned we are all in flight. Never arriving.
I love travelling. Airports, long flights, layovers and duty free shopping. Maybe being the daughter of a pilot had a little something to do with that. Maybe its the freedom I feel in that environment of constant motion...and duty free. Everybody at the airport is either trying to get somewhere (Departures), In transit (In Flight), or just landing (Arrivals). Can you guess where my sweet spot is? It's in Flight. Because I'm in motion, I'm rising, getting higher and higher. I'm among the clouds. I'm in the air and I'm getting somewhere in incredible fashion. And that makes me smile. How awesome is that experience? In Departures I may be a bit nervous; anticipating TSA delays, showing up at the wrong gate, cancelled flight maybe. In Arrivals, the high from flying dissipates, literally, and I'm in "what's next" mode. Will I be able to do everything I set out to do? Did I create the best possible Itinerary? Is this really all there is to do here??? Two different sets of anxiety for Departures and Arrivals right? But in flight, I'm calm. I'm inspired. Because the possibilities, the great expectations; they are endless. Like the vast sky around me.
We never loose our demons.
We only learn to live above them
- The Ancient One (Dr. Strange, the movie)
During the sermon, PK (Pastor Kevin) challenged us to Aim Higher. When we give up on overcoming our challenges, we settle for less than we are capable of. We settle for less than what God knows we are capable of. Why settle? Maybe its because the process can be so damn hard. Maybe it's because we want to arrive at that sweet spot already but it seems so damn far from our reach. So we get discouraged. We listen to judgmental and condescending filled words - from others as well as ourselves. We come to a hard stop. Exhausted from trying. We say this is as good as it's going to get. We manage. We go into survival mode. We settle. Today I learned we are all in flight and not one of us has arrived. A relationship with God is not about feeling like you've "arrived" (having all the answers, "holier than though", "The judge and jury"), neither is it about settling for "as good as it gets". A relationship with God is always In Flight. Constantly in progress. That made me hopeful. Because that's where I am. And though I have found myself giving up and settling for less than greatness many times, today I know the victory is in getting back up and continuing the process of reaching greatness - In Flight.
Someone challenged me recently. Asking how I dared to write about purposeful living on my blog while instinctively pointing out a flaw of mine. A secret flaw to most by the way, but not to those close to me. Now my first thought was to be defensive and try to exonerate myself. Then there was self shaming, with the solution to stop writing altogether and hide until I was the most perfect person I could be ("Unaddressed unrighteousness disqualifies you from helping anybody"). Then there was the least convenient thought - to address the judgement on the same platform that I have addressed everything else.
I was involved in an on again, off again relationship with a man who is already in a committed relationship to another. To my understanding the relationship was on its last legs. That was my justification to stay each time I tried to leave. Being in love was another justification - I was selfish. It was a painful and chaotic experience. I failed myself and those involved by not allowing the existing relationship to officially end, or even survive on its own merit, before stepping in. I acted as though I had arrived. I felt entitled and chose to assume my position right away as I saw it. But I learned from today's sermon that the most dangerous thing in life is an attitude of arrival. But honestly, I doubted myself through the whole experience and ran back and forth like a squirrel that my friend wrote about in her blog -
"I noticed a squirrel on the right side of the road. It was trying to make its way across the street. The squirrel scurried back and forth. It was scared and indecisive because it didn’t know what lied ahead. I was afraid it might get hit by a car. There was uncertainty. The squirrel made it halfway across the street and then hesitated because it didn’t know if it was safe to keep going. I wish the squirrel could see what I could see…that the road ahead was clear. It had come so far, but because it was scared, it ran all the way back to where it started. Fear can be paralyzing".
Arrivals. Departures. In Flight. All taking place at the same bloody time like a nervous squirrel. Perfection would have been for me to stay In Flight. But I'm not perfect, so life got messy - and I got hit by a car.
Understand the reason I write about purposeful living, and why I'll continue to write about purposeful living, is because of the never ending drive to Aim Higher - for myself and for others. It's not because I'm perfect. It's not because I have all the answers. It's not because I have arrived. I am hopefully In Flight. Just to clarify, "In Flight" is not a get out of jail free card. It's not an excuse to make mistakes and keep making mistakes. It's more sacred than that. In Flight is a humbling journey of transformation with every challenge encountered. A process that includes God's helping hand and the loving support of others raising you up. It's about not choosing to settle for less than greatness. Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda (Yes, Yes, I love the movies...) stated if you only do what you can, you'll never be more than you are now. So I could hold my head down, and label all my many flaws and shortcomings to be picked on and hyper emphasized; or I could lift my head up so I could literally see how far I need to go....and Aim Higher.