We can come to Jesus with our messy, broken, sinful lives because Jesus knows how hard it is to be human, because he knows obedience is a battle.
-From Ch. 7 ("Wiser and Taller"), Jesus Journey
As any discerning aged human will tell you, growing pains never go away. Developmental psychologists have posited that as humans grow, our minds do not just gain more information, which is obviously very important, but they actually change their way of knowing to adapt to increasing complexities.
Every stage of development looks and operates differently, but one fact remains the same of all developmental stages from infant to elderly: letting go of how you once knew things is necessary to find a new way to know.
This idea and the image below is better laid out by developmentalist-thinkers like Robert Kegan, but suffice it to say higher-order understanding requires disorder and then reorder, using the same "elements" previously held (i.e. the "things" in the diagram):
It would make sense then that this is not always a smooth or fun or easy, overnight process, no?
It would make sense that if something bigger and better is coming along, that which goes before it must crumble and dissipate to be made into something new…almost even what could feel like a “loss of self” (ouch!).
In chapter seven, Trent captures this important life-reality with the notion behind the Greek term proekopten: making some progress in the journey of life through the blows and set-backs that naturally occur along the path.
Put honestly, simply, and relate-ably by Trent for all of us: “What followed were several painful years of internal wrestling and a lot of ups and downs. My body, mind, and heart began to heal, but not without some big changes.” (pg. 61, Jesus Journey)
Incredibly, this sort of journey—marked by "ups and downs," the blows and challenges of life—is a journey that Jesus understands.
So, what does it look like to lean into these blows?
Quite naturally (or is it?), we humans avoid tension, conflict, disequilibrium. But what a testament that nature around us, our own bodies and minds, even Christ himself, do not just face disequilibrium, but indeed use this process of setting back, or pruning, or disrupting, or unsettling, or breaking apart, or wrestling, or dying “little deaths,” or even “big” death (where is your sting?) for the sake of re-alignment, greater knowing, deeper wisdom, reaching taller... ultimately being made into the image of resurrected Jesus himself!
Even as he became “wiser and taller,” Jesus’ journey took him through the Garden of Gethsemane, to Golgotha, to a godless grave, and finally to the empty garden tomb (more on this epic part of the story in later days!).
And we know this journey included very human features like betrayal, fear, alienation from God, even death—all of it endured after first becoming “wiser and taller."
One thing I have learned, having only thirty-four years of wisdom and growth spurts that take so long my tippy-toes hurt (thanks for that word fun, Chance the Rapper!), is that when things are painful or don’t seem to “fit together,” I need to slow down.
I need to listen. I need to remember. I need to look back, inside, and out—not intently at the thing that unsettles—but I need to strain to try and see the thing it is crumbling to make room for...
For there I will also find a risen man-God who is eternally taller than me.
Today's guest post is by Sam Albertson: "Sam is a professional Internal Wrestler. On the side, he has done some non-profit stuff with youth, was lucky enough to have studied some very neat things with some world-class peeps, serves-worships at Grace Church, and loves most his life at home in the Eagle Hill area of East Boston with two little human boys and a lovely human girl. He enjoys reading, thinking, listening to a wide range of music, and being outside with the aforementioned family... one thing he does not enjoy is writing bios."
Image credits: "colored wood" and "trees"—Chelsea Hudson / "diagram"—G. Gordon Worley III / "Hallgrímskirkja Church, Reykjavik, Iceland"—Sam Albertson