When I saw the subject of the email, I knew it wasn’t good news.
Call it a gut feeling. ESP. The Holy Spirit. Whatever. I instantly had this sense that something had gone wrong.
And I was right. My main client had second thoughts on writing their life story. Even though they had given the verbal go ahead, even though we had met a few times, even though I had planned the next six months of my life around this project, and even after making the first of six payments, they changed their mind. They didn’t want to do a book after all.
Five months of income down the drain. My main, present source of income. I felt sick to my stomach.
* * * * *
Of Christianity’s four main pillars (Incarnation, Death, Resurrection and Redemption), the one that has often escaped me the most is Incarnation.
This “becoming flesh and dwelling among us.” I’ve seen Death, both physical and emotional. I’ve witnessed the Resurrection of hope, people experiencing new life. I’ve observed Redemption, the kind that comes after radical forgiveness or revelation.
But Incarnation? What does that look like in my own life? How do I become “Incarnate” for those around me?
Then a friend of mine helped me to see it.
It’s in the struggles of life that we bear witness to the Incarnation. We “become flesh and dwell among them” in our failures, our ineptitude, our disasters and our sadness. When God became human and dwelt among us, he could answer our every question with the words, “But I understand.” Because he was born here. He lived here. He experienced pain and eventually death.
Every time I go through a difficult season, I am becoming the Incarnation for those around me.
I am becoming flesh and dwelling among them so that I can relate to their suffering. After the experiences I have had during the last three years, I can look at someone who has lost their job or is in financial hardship or who loses their house or is forced to move to another town, and I can say, “I understand.” I can say, “I’ve been there.” Because I’ve done all of those things.
When we become Incarnate for one another, we are better able to help each other carry the specific crosses we have been created to bear. On the other hand, when we protect ourselves from failure, when we design our lives around the pursuit of comfort and control, we maintain an unhealthy distance from the life that most people live. And if we stay in that space of comfort, no matter how often we celebrate the birth of Christ, we miss out on experiencing Incarnation in our own lives.
* * * * *
I went to bed that night, and I thought to myself, I will understand.
When someone tells me that they’re chasing their dream but it seems too hard. When someone tells me they’ve lost hope. When someone tells me that they feel boxed about by the world. When someone says they are angry at God. I will understand.
I went to bed that night and somehow it was a comfort to me.
What difficulties are you currently experiencing? How are these struggles helping you to become incarnate?
[photo: Serhan Keser, Creative Commons]