Mixed Feelings

by Jul 8, 2022Easy and Light

Mixed Feelings

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Exodus 34:6-7 (ESV)

My son left early last week for basic training in the Army National Guard. I’ve gone from laughing with him daily to stalking the mailbox waiting for that first letter. I miss him so much it hurts. As much as I miss him, I’m incredibly proud of his choice and I know that going 10 weeks without seeing him is part of the whole experience. I’m feeling the ache of his absence and bursting with pride, all at the same time. The more we experience life, the more we feel these mixed feelings, these inherent tensions. When a beloved grandparent who believed in Jesus dies, we can feel deep grief and loss while also being joyful that they finally get to see Him face to face. When we start a new job, we know how it feels to be both excited and terrified at once.
Lord God, You are full of mystery and wonder. We don’t always understand Your ways, but we can trust You. Give us wisdom and peace as we navigate the tensions in a polarized world.

But sometimes we’re less comfortable with tension in our faith journey. We struggle to trust in a loving God when we see the pain of an incredibly broken world. We prefer to view controversial issues as black or white, for or against, rather than navigating uncomfortable nuance.

Yet we serve a God who is not afraid of tension, who can be both/and at the same time. When Moses encountered God on Mt. Sinai, God described Himself as both merciful AND just. We live in the reality of being both fully forgiven and redeemed AND still sinful and struggling.

The sooner we can learn to live in, to embrace the reality that life is messy and complicated and doesn’t fit into our neat boxes, the more we will be at peace – with God, with ourselves and with the world around us.

When we allow ourselves to fully experience both parts of the equation, the tension can transform into an equilibrium of sorts, bringing peace instead of discomfort. So when I’m feeling the weight of missing my boy, I can shed my tears while I also glow with pride. And then I take a deep breath, knowing he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be.

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