I remember being 15 years old and wanting nothing more than to be like Christ. I lived and breathed my faith because I wanted holiness.
At 17 years old, I had a spiritual experience at a convocation, and I pleaded with God to make me wise. Like Solomon was wise. I knew how trusting I was–to my own hurt. I saw how dangerous the world could be, and I believed growing in wisdom would protect me.
I was so naive…
I’m 33 years old now. And the prayer of my heart, this palpable yearning to be something more than I am in this world, still stirs in my soul. And it has changed me in ways I struggle to explain, but I’m going to try to explain anyway.
My own journey of sanctification hasn’t added anything to me or who I am. In many ways, I am the same girl I was at 15. However, the past 18 years have been a very painful, drawn out process of losing all of the nothings I used to believe were important somethings. The nothings that had convinced me they were something to protect, and necessary for me to hurt others in my protection of them. As it turns out, it is quite exhausting to valiantly protect nothing. It’s not any fun either:-/
It’s important for anyone not already walking this path to understand that, at any point along this journey, I can give up on this whole following Christ thing. No, really, I totally can. I have never followed out of compulsion or as a form of religious addiction. If I had, it wouldn’t have been Christ I was following… Because Love needs Freedom in order to be Love. At every point on this path that I’ve decided to throw myself down and scream and flail my arms in protest, I’ve found myself comforted in my distress. I always find enough Divine patience to wait out my resistance. That’s right, I don’t get punished for wallowing in my humanness. I get comforted in my experience of it. I don’t know about you, but I certainly didn’t learn to expect that kind of response in Sunday school….
I know that at any time I can sit myself down and refuse to be moved. Period. How do I know that? Only because I’ve tried it myself a few times. (Ok, many many many times) This life of sanctification is a life we have to chose in order to continue in it. Every single day. The pain and suffering we will experience along the way is never our own to bear– which is why I still march forward. Because, honestly, I am human and I’m going to hurt, whether I decide to follow Christ or go my own way. I may as well assent to this pain of being human to be used by Christ for my ultimate good. I mean, why let it go to waste if I’m paying the price of it anyway?
That’s why I do it. Not because of what I am getting, but because of all the valueless things I have been freed of along the way. I was once much burdened, now I find myself to be much less burdened. Ive done nothing to effect that change apart from choosing to face what confronts me in following Him. But I’m never facing those confrontations alone. That’s a huge perk, and one I’ve taken advantage of a lot this past year.
Following Christ is not a safe choice to make. Don’t pick up and follow Christ because you are trying to escape the pain of being human. You are setting yourself up for a huge disappointment. The thing is though, refusing to answer the call to follow is not a safe choice either. If you exist as a human being, you will learn sooner or later that living brings us ever closer to our death. It sucks! And while its hard to have the things you value revealed to be nothingness in the Light of Christ, it’s not nearly as difficult as stubbornly carrying and protecting your nothings throughout your life here. You’d be surprised at how heavy those nothings can get.
So, that’s my experience of sanctification: a gradual letting go of my attachment to everything I can’t bring with me when I die (which is pretty much everything outside of Love and my own personhood). My life is still hard, but it’s not as hard as it once was. And life is most certainly easier now than if I had never stepped onto this path in the first place:)
I don’t have any parting advice for you. I apologize if you were expecting some enlightening insight on the process of Christian sanctification. I got nothing. If the draw to live life this way isn’t already planted in your own soul, there is nothing else to convince you of its value. Just sayin’. I have that draw in my soul and even I stop at times to question its ultimate value!