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A New Hope: Ashes

Updated: Dec 30, 2019

One of the hardest parts of moving forward is letting go of what no longer exists in our reality. It is amazing how the world continues to exist, yet our reality is minute in comparison. Letting go of the burns that have disintegrated into ashes, allowing the wind to scatter them permanently, is the hardest freedom to embrace.

The peace that comes from releasing even the most bitter moments is not simply an absence of pain, but a gift of forgiveness. Even if that pain is self-inflicted, the strength to allow that pain to disintegrate to the point that we need only to open our hand for the wind to remove the charcoaled stain is a beautiful victory on the road to recovery. It is not the point of perfect resolution, but the freedom to let God scatter the old, and guide us through the new.

Pains in our past are a tickle in our throat. They don't bother us when things don't matter, they annoy us when we are stressed, and they cripple us at the worst moments. The never-ending tickle that we cannot seem to control when the whole world is watching is the unending pain that debilitates us in restoration.

Our perception of permanence is arrogance. It is a Sharpie drawing on a blackboard. Only fools believe it exists forever. But the wise man knows an Expo marker over that Sharpie will erase what was once thought to be unerasable.

One day, our stories will die with a generation in the not so distant future. Consider the stories of our families that will die with our generation. Will our kids ask about our great-grandparents? If they do, will those stories be impactful enough for them to pass down? My great-grandmother, born 112 years ago, will be likely forgotten before the turn of the century. No matter how hard we try to live beyond our last breath, we cannot seem to get our lives to last forever.

Our futility is hard to grasp in a world driven by impressions. We want people to see us. We want to be known. But we rarely share pictures of us from the side. We rarely show the world what they would truly see if they were around us.

People think that in the church they will find perfection. The issue is that few find the resurrection. Services are accompanied by judgemental glares about attire and church etiquette but forbid genuine love and forgiveness. Church is often the most prominent place for people to be the least genuine people. Members often give off the false perception that they have answers, but forget that those answers are easy to tailor to our own desires.

As I move forward in my life, I do not ignore the scars of my past. Nor do I pretend that I do not have a blemish in my present. At least not by my own doing. Any perfection I display is all for loss if it fails to point to the resurrection.

We are not paintings. We are not stitched permanently into our world. Our time is short and our options are few. But we have hope that remains forever.

We have a hope that the memory of who we were is not who we are becoming. We have a hope that the pain that we think defines us only defines Him who forgives us. We have a hope that the imperfection we produce that disqualifies us from any forgiveness on earth is the exact qualification for forgiveness in heaven. We could never afford the flight, but we got a first class ticket to a permanent destination.

As my hand slowly opens and the wind scatters the ashes of my past, may God scatter them where they are meant to go. May He free us all of the pain that our imperfection is too much to bear. And in His perfect wisdom, may He allow us to move forward, by letting go of who we were, so we can be who we are created to be.

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