This spring I began a program of spiritual formation through The Transforming Center. “Formed to the image of Christ for the sake of others” is the phrase guiding this process.
It’s that last phrase, “for the sake of others” that keeps running through my mind.
Who we are and what we do is not in isolation. There is power in how we live to impact those around us.
Take rest, for example. I have always been someone with a high capacity for activity. I’m ambitious. I often bite off more than I can chew.
For the longest time, I was unaware of the impact that pace had on me, to the point of outright denial. It’s like the popular meme I’ve seen lately, something like this:
Me: Why do I keep getting tension headaches?
My body: because you’re doing too much.
Me: And why are my shoulders so tight?
My body: Because you’re doing too much.
Me: I wish I knew why I got these stomach aches.
My body: Please for the love of God, slow down.
Me: I guess we’ll never know . . .
Only in my case, it wasn’t just my body telling me. It was my doctor, my dentist, my chiropractor, my friends, my family.
I used to think I could just tweak some things-plan a little better, delegate more, stay in front of the ball.
But after a while, I realized I was being unkind to myself.
So I started slowing down. Leaving more margin. Talking to the little monsters in me that drive me to perform. Giving them permission to stop. Breathing more deeply. It’s been good.
Yet, at the end of the day, I’m still tempted to push through busy days. One more task checked off. A little more productivity to get me ahead. The resistance to rest is never far off.
For the Sake of Others
Except now, when this phrase keeps resonating in my head, “for the sake of others.” And I realize that while I might be able to power through, I have to ask what it does to those around me.
Am I the person I want to be for them when I am strained to my limits?
What does it communicate to them about how they ought to live?
Does this pace form me to the image of Christ?
I never want others to look at me and think, “I can’t keep up.” I want to live my life at a restful pace and to invite others to it as well. May they never feel under the pile by the pace I set.
One morning recently, I woke up early because my body is physically incapable of sleeping past 6 am at the latest. My first thought was, “Hey, church starts later today. I could work for an hour.” And then in my Facebook memories, I found this quote from my friend Ken Cochrum:
“I feel it when I am not hurried to finish a conversation, a workout, a chapter in the book I’m reading, a phone call, a project I’m working on, or a meal. Hurry in me creates apathy and thinness. Ease creates spaces for authenticity, genuine concern, acute awareness, and ultimately LOVE. Remember, ‘Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.’” (including a quote from Dallas Willard)
Me resting doesn’t just affect me; it changes who I am with others. It makes me someone who walks better with others, it creates space for relationships with them and ultimately leads to love.
This is true of whatever way God desires to form us into the image of Christ.We are the hands and feet of Jesus to each other, in how we live, work, parent, play, and minister. How we order our lives not only shapes us, it shapes who we are with others, and in turn, who they become.
I don’t know about you, but this feels like a call to stewardship. We do not live in isolation, therefore we do not grow in isolation. For the sake of others, may we invite God to do more in us.