I get surprised by what I see sometimes. The first time we had our Australian Shepherd groomed, he was shaved for a cooler summer experience. My husband picked him up at the groomers and when I got home, I told Kurt he had to take our dog back. He must’ve gotten the wrong one. The dog greeting me in our laundry room looked so vastly different than the dog I knew and loved, I was convinced it was the wrong dog. It was the right dog. One look at his face and I knew it was the right dog.
Have your eyes ever surprised you? The information they gave your brain didn’t make sense with the reality you were used to seeing. You know that short gap of time where you are trying to reconcile what you saw and what it means? That short gap represents the beautiful availability given to us in Step Two, surrendering our will so that God’s will can direct our lives. Post-surrender vision is different than pre-surrender vision. So, if we allow surrender to do its revealing work in our hearts during this “gap,” it will show us what we’ve never been able to see before – how far short we’ve fallen from God’s plan for our life.
This experience will usually be stark and brief…like when I saw Sox and didn’t recognize him. It is generally an uncomfortable feeling and our brain will seek to reconcile the dissonance. This moment is our chance, so don’t miss it. This is the moment when we can invite our brain to relax and let the dissonance exist. It is true that the intents upon our hearts haven’t always directed us toward God’s will. It is true that our need for control drives us to the deadliest of the seven deadly sins, pride. It is true that we will rationalize our distracted desires so they look better in others’ eyes. Relax, brain. The gift we find in this moment of wakefulness is for our good, even though it can feel uncomfortable. The gift is – only when we see how sin has distorted us will we be ready to seek God’s forgiveness. If we’ve gotten this far, our awareness has already convinced us that we can’t pull out of this on our own. Grace is our only hope. So, sit with this awareness for a while longer and let it lead you to Step Three, receive forgiveness so you can live out the grace that has been extended to you.
The third step in the spiritual life is a move toward true reconciliation with God. Allow me to go back to my illustration of dog grooming. The gap of what I expected to see versus what I saw was so marked that I really was serious when I told my husband he should take Sox back. I just knew Kurt had picked up the wrong dog. That was so not the right decision, true? We can all see it now. I didn’t want another dog. I wanted Sox. But, I wanted Sox to look like I expected him to look. Let’s take a long, slow moment to let this sink in…it is not possible for Sox to look like I expected him to look – any more than it is possible for you to unsee the truth about yourself once you’ve seen it. You can tell your husband (or someone else close to you, for that matter), take him back! Won’t solve the problem or close the gap. The only thing that will close the gap is for you to reconcile what you used to know against what you now know. And that, my friends, is the gift of receiving forgiveness.
So, go ahead and feel the sadness, the regret, the pain, the loss. Find the depth of your need to be made whole. Then, accept the gift that God desires more than anything to give you, forgiveness. And, here’s the hidden surprise – once you’ve received forgiveness, you’ll discover so many more places in your life where you can extend forgiveness to others.