Sometimes there is more strength in finding oneself in the face of another person…as opposed to only finding it in a mirror.
God is bigger not smaller when He’s discovered in the words or actions of another human.
Many of us have stared into our proverbial reflections for years and still don’t know what we are looking at. But if we can get to the place where we begin to see glimpses of who we are in the stories and lives of other people maybe we can find it in our own reflection. The truth is that unless we believe we can find the divine in other people we will never find it in ourselves.
Hopefully we can begin to understand why we were created to be in community. Our horizontal relationships are some of the most overlooked meaningful spiritual encounters we will ever have. Yet we look to the sky believing that everything we need that brings deep meaning and purpose comes from above. It is interesting that in one of the ancient Hebrew creation stories found in Genesis, after God creates Adam there is still something deeply missing that can’t be found in the entire universe. God decides to fill the void by creating another human being. That old story hints at a timeless truth—true spirituality is both vertical and horizontal, in fact lets just remove the axis.
Have you ever sat with a friend and listen to them pour their heart out—only to discover in the conversation something that helps you in your own journey? If we could truly listen without the intent to fix, but instead to understand, we may all be surprised to possibly end up with both.
I spend a couple of hours a week sitting across from addicts in the role of spiritual coach and have discovered something unexpected. As I listen to these strangers tell me of their pain, their failures, and their fears—I find myself. I am supposed to be teacher, but they’re the ones leading me. Is it because I am desperate enough to be looking for hope in the eyes of an addict? Or is it merely because there is a spark of the divine in each of us? Jesus was asked by a religious leader what in his opinion was the most important command. Jesus’ response is still making us think—it was to ‘love God and love people’. I am convinced that the reason so many religious people are such a pain in the ass is because they spend their days looking up as the only source of the divine. But there is a treasure buried in these earthly vessels that has to be believed to be seen.
Perhaps our frustration with God’s silence could merely be our resistance to the idea that God’s presence could show up through someone I least expect. Is it our arrogance that is tripping us up? A sad misunderstanding is that the incarnation only happened once. I am experiencing divine encounters with people everyday, whether they know it or not.
So whether you encounter God wrapped in swaddling clothes or in the fetal position in the psych ward of your local hospital the message seems to be the same. When you open up more than your eyes, but your thinking also, to the idea that God desires to come to us in the most pedestrian of ways—everything changes. This transformation in your thinking multiples dramatically all the ways the divine can speak to you in your time of need.
I won’t spoil it for you, go have a look for yourself.
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