”Spiritual formation isn’t like a quickly spreading fire; it’s like a tree with deeply descending roots, establishing a foundation for future growth and fruitfulness. Through the disciplines each one of us becomes a fruitful tree, a place for birds to nest, a resting place for others. So God uses our lives to bear quiet but abundant fruit.” ~Joshua Choonmin Kang
It seemed incredibly true. Like, the truth hurts, kind of true. What hits me the hardest is the season of growth mentioned. It. takes. so. long. It’s not Wifi fast and connected. It’s not even telegraph level. It’s watch the grass grow slow.
I spent almost 4 years in graduate school studying Spiritual Formation. As a theological conservative, Evangelical female, I probably couldn’t have made a more costly and career-limiting move. For instance, in half the time, I could have become a physician’s assistant and pulled in $120K a year. BOOM.
I have no aspirations to pastor a church, and paid leadership roles or positions are more rare “for my kind” than Squirrels at Bikini Bottom, under the sea. No, wait, a polkadot unicorn…under the sea…and wearing a business suit.
I’ll get my money back out of my investment…that is if I live to be 346 years old.
Besides all that $ and education stuff. Spiritual Formation is an extremely slow process. So slow, and messy, in fact, that I would venture that it is basically unAmerican. It doesn’t have a formula for quick multiplication of adherents, (so it won’t make maga-churches or bring in the greenback$) and it…get this… takes work. DOWNER!
To become a disciplined (trained) and a more mature follower of God, takes, well discipline. What is more uncool than that?
So, why bother? I must be such a fool.
But there is a great reason I sum up in one word: transformation.
Not the jackpot you thought?
God’s Holy Spirit really and truly transforms us. It’s a joy to see it, and be a part of it. I have to give up most of what I thought I could achieve to pick this path. But, it’s funny, or maybe even more foolish, but I just trust God about it. And that’s is exactly why I know a concentrated effort and a willing heart can lead to a richer love of God, and a fuller understanding of who he is. You see, I wouldn’t have felt this way 4 years ago. It’s been an active grace of God toward me. I would have been worried. I would have been more self-seeking. I have a long way to go and grow, but I see God’s amazing love. I see his work in this world, and I see it ( at least somewhat) in and through me, in ways I would have missed. I know I am more available to love others and care for them and their souls. (whole-being….care of soul)
Still, these are not cool qualities. At. All. Spiritual Formation, if it could ever be trendy, would fade out of vogue, much faster than silly bands. In a small sense, I think I can relate to the disabled community for these reasons. It makes the study of disability that much more interesting I think. There is something worthwhile in choosing “disability” so to speak (a weaker or lesser role, a susceptible path).
In this spot I think I’m set up to be more dependent and vulnerable. I don’t have clout. Few people listen to what I say. It’s a pilgrim’s way, and it can be lonely at times, because the vision I have doesn’t seem very shinny or sparkly. It doesn’t seem to have a primo payoff. It’s not glamorous. Quite the opposite. It’s not even upwardly mobile, and in plenty of suburban and rural areas, this isn’t just UNcool, it’s near-scandalous. The rewards don’t come instantly, and plenty of times they don’t come at all.
I’m getting better acquainted with my thorough uncoolness. Strangely, there is a slight but real hope that comes with that. And it feels like I’m wearing new shoes.
Have you somehow chosen the uncool, plain, or “lesser” way? (perhaps in your pursuits, your career, your role, your authority, etc)
Thoughts? Comments? Responses?