get real!

We have guests staying with us and this morning we arranged for Tim and I to run to the beach, while they drove there to meet us for breakfast. The route to the beach from home is 7km along a combination of trail and tar that, after almost 8 years living here, is very familiar to us.

I felt skippy with energy as we started our run, excited to be out again on a Sunday morning and thrilled to be recovering from my hamstring injury. I’ve realised that the hamstring tendon tolerates the motion of running better when I lift my knee a little higher than usual, and does better ascending or descending on uneven ground. Sadly, running on a flat stretch of road is still not without discomfort.

I knew these things, and I knew the route: uphill and downhill trail, sure, but with good amounts of flat road too. Each time I go out, I am testing the hamstring tendon, gauging it for the level of healing and trying to modify the run to stay within necessary limits. These limits are not where I want to be - I want to be able to lengthen my stride, to run easy along all our normal routes, to go as far as energy allows.

I don’t want to be where I am. I don’t want what is true about me to be true about me. Now I can moan all I like, I can want things to be different, I can even try to run as I usually would (which this morning would have meant adding on a few kays at the end) but it doesn’t change what is actually true about me: I over-worked my hamstring which caused some inflammation in the attached tendon and, unless I limit what I do, recovery could take a long time. To get where I want to go, I have to start from where I am.

truth will out

This idea of being real about what is true for us is significant in other dimensions of life too. My husband and I are currently in a season of discerning how we might extend our ministry to include a new property, a place where we could host more people for leadership development, guided retreats and debriefing. Are we being directed to purchase our own place (which would require some miraculous provision) or to raise finances as part of our organisation? Should we be looking for a large property, or somewhere with just a bit of extra space and perhaps some land for additional tiny homes or cabins that could be added over time? We are exploring these ideas with another couple, all of us curious about what this new venture could look like.

I would love to say that I am full of faith and raring to launch into this new adventure in trusting God. The truth is a little more complicated. We had already set our hearts on a property that seemed like God’s provision and, since that fell through, I realise that my sense of what I can expect from God is far less clear. As I connect with the rest of the group in relation to this project, and connect with God, I find myself wishing I could bring the level of faith and vision others seem to have. And yet I know it is vital for me to stay in a place of truth - not because I want to remain unsure and ambivalent, but because being real about where I am is the place God will meet me.

The thing is we experience all kinds of pressure - from ourselves and others - to be in a different place from the one in which we actually are. People may want us to be more positive or less doubtful, more visionary or with fewer questions. And we, being good team players, can try to put on the kinds of attitudes others seem to want us to have. None of this is ill-intended, it’s just how we tend to do things. Here’s what I’m learning though: in God’s compassionate love and commitment to us, God wants to meet each of us exactly where we are. Again, not because it’s good for us to stay there, but because the place of truth is the only place we ever meet God. God does not need me to be anywhere other than where I actually am.

It’s good for us to keep in mind that when each one of us can bring our true self to whatever situation or decision, this is best for the group. In fact, as we engage with the truth each person brings, that can be an important part of the discernment process. At the very least, things will not move forward as we hope or plan so long as people are masking their true feelings or heart state. Truth will out, as they say. (You can read more about this principle in Pursuing God’s Will Together, a book by Ruth Haley Barton.)


What about you? Is there an area of life in which you find yourself dressing up your true state for the sake of others? How might God be inviting you to own what is actually true about how you are doing, including your fears, doubts or questions? How is God meeting you in deeper and more real ways as you lay aside well-intended façades and present your true-today-self to God?


Oh God, you who are unequivocal and exist in Truth. As you invite me to come to you as I truly am, enable me to lay aside my well-intentioned pretences and to meet you in the place of reality. Amen.