Earp Takes Aim | Faith, Culture, Life

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Three Friends

It’s not like this is my first time to question someone in authority, but when the one I’m resisting is the Apostle Paul…?  To say my resistance gave me pause is putting it mildly. 

Truth is, my rebel self got me stuck.  So stuck…I did something real writers seldom do— I stopped writing.

What got me blocked?  Paul’s famous riff about “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” {Philippians 3:13}.  A verse I’ve taught many times and one I thought I had fully embraced as an essential item in my spiritual toolbox. 

Forgetting past sin?  Got it, Paul.  Great stuff!

Forgetting past success?  Yep, we’re on the same page here, too.  {What a relief that must be for him!}

Forgetting past scars?  Can’t argue that one, either.

But forgetting Cindy?  Sorry, dude.  Ain’t gonna happen. 

 

I’m not saying I don’t want to “strain toward what is ahead,” ‘cause I do.  And in recent months, I really have been straining and reaching and stretching and groaning to embrace my life as it now is and will again be.  FORWARD has been my driving ambition, but Mr. Apostle-guy? 

Cindy has been my constant inspiration as I’ve made my FORWARD move. 

 

Now before anyone starts lecturing me on my woeful misinterpretation of Paul’s intended use of that word, please chill!  I already know what you’re gonna say.  But see, that’s why I got stuck.  Truth never gets us stuck.  But sometimes our response to truth does. 

So I feel God’s healing and I’m eagerly leaning into FORWARD— but this fear of “forgetting” is always right behind me, lingering in the shadows.  I sense a restored passion in my calling, I feel less tense in social situations, I engage emotionally in the life crises of others— and each experience assures me that I’m recovering.  And that I really am embracing my “what is ahead.” 

But forgetting…?

Nope.   

Not if forgetting means no longer remembering.  Not if forgetting means never celebrating the wonder of our love.  Not if forgetting requires me to file our life together under “behind”— a move that must precede the opening of a new folder. 

 

Two friends helped me with all this— an old friend and a new friend.  And they {along with my best friend} are the primary reasons why I am writing again. 

My old friend, I call him Doc, was just checking in.  {You should probably know that Doc inspired my blog name ‘cause he was the first one who called me a faith wimp/wuss.  More on that in a second}.  Doc was waxing eloquently about pain and giftedness when he said,

“[Earp], your gift has the potential for you to look in the mirror some day and you don’t see you anymore…you died.  What you will see is a totally re-shaped man that resembles our Lord Jesus. 

The journey to this comes through a lot of trial and, unfortunately, pain.  I can’t find many of the great guys who achieved their potential who didn’t come through the valley of death.” 

And then Doc totally rocked my world when he wrote this:

“I am envious of your opportunity on one hand, and on the other?  I am not.  And the “not” is simply because I am a bigger wuss than you ‘used to be.’  Thus I get really scared in the natural mind when I think of the cost of ‘becoming’ like our Savior.  And even though I am not around you to observe?  I know…I know in my spiritual man that you are no longer a wuss.  You have survived being diced and sliced and broken.  You’re tougher now…in your core…all of which allows you to carry more water and burden for others.”

Wow!  My old friend {and hero} says that I am no longer a wuss!  Yes!

 

My new friend still wears Cindy’s bracelet and assures me that “Cindy still lives in [her] heart and is an angel to many [who knew her].  She wears the bracelet “to remember the lessons I learned from [Cindy] during her illness.”  She also surrounds her work space with verses that inspired Cindy and after listing them, she said,

“I like to think that Jesus allows Cindy to be my spiritual mentor from heaven.  Many times when I am depressed about bothersome things, I look at her reminders to ‘Be Positive’ and I say out loud, ‘Okay Cindy, if you could do it, I certainly can!’”

And then my new friend wrote,

“When you get to heaven Steve, I can imagine Cindy chattering about all you have done for others since her passing.  You must make her so proud!  Who knows, perhaps God will allow Cindy to lead a choir of angels upon your arrival!  You both certainly deserve it!”

My two friends taught me what I couldn’t seem to see on my own:  That forgetting doesn’t mean never remembering.  I’m still trying to fully understand what forgetting DOES mean, but I’ve decided that I can’t let my lack of understanding make me stay stuck even a moment longer. 

 

I stopped writing because I felt the need to push into “what is ahead,” but the thought of “forgetting what is behind” was too much for me.  I didn’t want to keep rehearsing my grief— because Cindy would be so disappointed if that’s where I remained.  Besides, there is so much more to my current story than just how I am recovering from her grand departure. 

The problem is, I felt guilty whenever I tried to start a new chapter.  I feared that by writing about new things and “ahead” things and other things— that I would lose our thing.  So I closed my laptop instead.

 

I can’t say that I still won’t wrestle with this. 

I’m not promising that I won’t still write about this. 

But here’s what I can say:  My best friend would want me to keep writing about my faith and quit fretting about “forgetting.”  My new friend assures me that she would be proud of how I’m “straining…ahead” in my desire to do just that.  And my old friend?  He says I’m not a wuss anymore!

So in honor of my three friends?  I’m doing what Paul [in the very next verse] said I should do:  I’m “pressing” on. 

 

As soon as we can update the banner, we’re adjusting the name of this blog.  Confessions of a [RECOVERING] faith wimp. 

Seems about right, from where I sit.  Because it’s a day at a time, with all of us who eventually choose to recover from whatever has us stuck.  Therefore, it’s not that I am “no longer a wuss”— I just refuse to be one today!  I am not fully recovered, but I am recovering. 

And this blog is gonna also make a subtle change.  It’s gonna become a journal of a whole of other ways that God slices and dices and breaks people like us— so that He can re-shape us into an image that resembles our Jesus.  Never arriving, but always striving.  Never fully forgetting our pain, problems, failures and victories…but not being trapped there, either. 

But choosing not to be stuck, we keep straining and pressing for “the prize.”

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