In early spring of 2013, I made the decision to leave my nearly 6-figure corporate gig. In winter of 2013, I actually did it, not once but twice. To make a long & messy story short, I left to attend a bible college in Australia, but that single decision didn’t turnout as I had expected. I didn’t make it to Australia, & I didn’t attend bible college that year.
It was an absolute mess. My pride was bruised. Hell, I was humiliated. I was overwhelmed with anxiety. I was confused. I was exhausted. It was chaos. But I wasn’t alone! I had both the pressure & judgement of the naysayers & the loving compassion & support of my ride or dies.
In the midst of it all, I knew with certainty, from deep within, that the decision to go & all the decisions that followed & the decision to not go & all the decisions that followed were without a doubt the right decisions in spite of the outcome. This was true because I didn’t make any of those decisions apart from discerning where God was moving & how God was guiding me. In choosing to sit in & not run from the messiness of those decisions, I learned how to discern were God was leading & moving. It was in the messy that God was teaching me how to choose Justly. It was in the weeds of the messy that I learned how to love God for God on God’s terms.
And, I discovered that the messiness is what God uses to prune the weeds that suffocate our capacity to be fully alive. Weeds bloom as a diversity of life-threatening species. Weeds sprout, root & grow in our lived experience as traumatizing ways of relating to self, others & God. Weeds are not only present in our lived relationships to institutions, systems & structures but they (institutions, systems & structures) can & are often the weeds themselves. Anything that stands in the way of ANY created being from being fully alive, there you will find God the Gardner—the Incarnate Jesus—in the messy & at work: pruning, planting & watering so that life may be lived fully, abundantly & authentically in reciprocal relationship with God, self & others.
When the dust was beginning to settle from the messiness of those decisions, my corporate gig caught wind that I hadn’t left, they reached out in early spring of 2014, asking if I’d come back with a slight bump in salary. It was tempting, but I turned it down to embark on the messy new thing that I was co-creating with God.
It was three audacious decisions—to accept & to reject—that led me down the path of becoming fully alive. In doing so, I experienced for myself the teaching that the Christian tradition has passed on from one generation to the next: “the glory of God is every creature fully live”, including me.
Today, 5 years later this spring & Eastertide season, I’ve made another audacious decision that wouldn’t have been possible without the former experience—
I left my full-time gig to pursue freelance consulting & program design as a transformative justice practitioner. One who embraces a transformative justice perspective, pursues justice that is holistic, intersectional & reciprocal so that the transformation of individuals, systems, structures & relationships are mutually flourishing. At the bottom, a transformative justice philosophy holds in tension the reality that we are ALL capable of being both the oppressor & oppressed because we simultaneously occupy various social locations (race, class, gender, ability, sexuality, etc.) of privilege and under-privilege, which demand a constant negotiation of how we show up in the world.
It is our duty to not only recognize this reality but to also seek transformation (liberation) from both. This embodied belief & philosophy is integrated into my daily praxis of living. As a practitioner, it is embedded in how I consult with justice seekers & doers as well as in how I contribute to designing programs, services & policies intended to do justice.
And, as with those former decisions, I have a community of ride or dies, & if there’s naysayers, the cheers, the love, the support & the enthusiasm of those ride or dies, overwhelms my sensibilities with joy, as I partake in this new thing that I am co-creating with God and others.
The nuggets of wisdom that I garnered
- Sometimes it’s in the embracing of the messy & sitting in the weeds that we discover the courage to challenge that which seeks to suffocate us so that we can accept that which seeks to free us. Perhaps, this is part of what it looks like for us Jesus seekers to “work out our salvation with fear & trembling”
- It’s also not lost on me that these decisions messily aligned with Jurgen Moltmann’s insight: “Nature’s cycle is growth and decay, becoming and dying…the Kingdom of God is nothing other than the new creation of all things eternal”.
Where might God the Gardener be calling you to partake in new life this Eastertide season…