Hi everyone and thanks for visiting my blog, “Everyman Jack.” In case this is your first time or if you haven’t been here for a while, this month I’ve been talking about the various types of resets we may need in our lives because January is always a good time to take a fresh run at certain areas in our lives that may need some improvement. So far we’ve looked at relationship resets, spiritual resets and parenting resets. Notice that I deliberately didn’t talk about physical fitness resets because I didn’t want to depress you.
Today I’d like to look at the things that all of these resets have in common. A successful reset in any area has three different components: We set a goal, we work towards that goal, and we reach the goal. Two of these moments are good moments, maybe even great moments; the other one…not so much.
I think everyone would agree with me that the moment when you first set a goal is a great moment. When you set a goal you are enthusiastic and full of hope. You are setting a new course for your life. It’s exciting! And setting a goal involves lots of fun things:
- Buying a new set of workout clothes
- Brainstorming a new plan of attack
- Writing out goals in your iPad
- Sharing the dream with a friend
- Buying a new calendar to hang on your wall
These are all good things. Who doesn’t like doing these things? To me, setting a goal even has its own unique and magical smell. To me, setting a goal smells like dry erase markers and a new pair of sneakers. Am I right? Who’s with me?
The end of that relationship goal or work goal or fitness goal might be failure, but at least you’ll have some comfortable clothes to watch television in.
The Finish Line
But let’s say you succeed. You lose that weight, you get that promotion, that new direction you set for the company succeeds and everyone applauds you. That is another great moment. Here’s what accomplishing a goal looks like:
- It’s dinner out with co-workers to celebrate the achievement
- It’s a year end bonus
- It’s the slide show that highlights your victory
- It’s a celebration lap around Nordstrom’s
- It’s donating your fat pants to Goodwill
Again, what’s not to like? Those things are all good things. The victory celebration has its own smell too: Success smells like Ruth Chris Steakhouse and champagne. Yum!
Those are both great moments in the reset process. I found evidence of both in my life on Facebook last week. (I know that you all might be tired of hearing about my new adopted daughter from Haiti, but I’ll never be tired of talking about it, so bear with me.) My wife was on Facebook and this post from four years ago popped up as a Facebook memory regarding our adoption:
“Jack announced to our church that we are “expecting” and that we are seeking to adopt. He also asked them to pray as we have LOTS of obstacles. He called it a “high risk pregnancy”:) Thinking maybe I need to go on bed rest! Care team get the meal calendar going!”
I remember back then. It was exciting. We have pictures of us signing papers. We have memories of telling friends. I ran all over town getting papers signed. We had to have papers from the Sheriff’s department saying we weren’t criminals. We had to have fingerprints taken to prove we weren’t criminals. Then we had to have another kind of fingerprints taken to, you guessed it, prove we weren’t criminals. We had to undergo a psychological evaluation. Jilane passed no problem. I know all that running around sounds annoying, but I liked it. There were things to do, papers to sign, checks to write, people to share with. I loved feeling like there was progress being made.
It all culminated in this. This was another Facebook post from two weeks ago.
“Hey gang. We are in Haiti to pick up our daughter. Can you believe it? Amazing. She is out of the orphanage and living with us. We feel so blessed. Today is the first day that we have Daphlie and don’t have to give her back.”
The Not-So-Fun Part
There are two great moments involved in any type of life change: setting the goal and reaching the goal. Unfortunately, the bulk of change is spent in an uncomfortable third place. Living in the unresolved. It’s the space between the goal setting and the goal celebrating. This third area is not nearly as fun. This is what it feels like in this space:
- Long hours of hard work
- The temptation as you drive past Krispy Kreme
- Mistakes and failures and set backs and plateaus
- Injuries that put you on the couch so that instead of training for a marathon, you’re watching a Seinfeld marathon.
- Waiting and waiting and more waiting
- Self-doubt and second guessing
- Worries that wake you up and won’t let you go back to sleep
This unresolved place smells like a gym and tastes like sweat and tears.
This last week on my blog I spoke of the pain of this middle space. Between the goal setting and the celebration these were some of the bumps along the way in our adoption:
- I didn’t check a box and so our I600 expired and we had to go with a brand new form, the I800. When we got on the I800 track we were told that Haiti had not even come up with a process for how to deal with the new forms.
- We waited months to get our paperwork signed by the children’s judge only to realize he misspelled Daphlie’s name on the form so had to do it again.
- We waited 6 months for an exit letter that IBESR said would take 10 days. Then a week after we got it, they took it back until they got a new form. That took another 6 months
- There was a moment in time when we were informed that I was red flagged for being too old. (But I’m a young 54, right?)
Each of those moments brought pain and frustration. I have never seen my wife cry as much as she has cried in the last 4 years. Living in the unresolved can be agony. And this isn’t just an adoption thing. This waiting space is a place we are all familiar with because there are all kinds of waiting:
- There is the waiting we face after we applied to get into a school. Will we get in? Will they want us?
- We dream of falling in love and getting married. Then there’s the waiting for Mr. or Mr. Right. That waiting includes sifting through losers, answering your mom’s questions about your love life, being rejected. Sometimes that search for Mr. Right is so hard that it’s easy to settle for Mr. Right Now.
- After marriage there’s the waiting for children. For some, that’s a long and difficult wait. But even if you have children when you want, the waiting has just begun:
- Once you’ve had kids, there’s the waiting for them to walk and waiting for them to talk and waiting to put them in school and waiting for them to come home from summer camp. With kids the waiting never ends. The distance between the dream that your child will grow up and be successful and watching that reality come true is a long one.
- There’s also the waiting to get a job and often times after securing that job, there is a new waiting. It’s the waiting to find work that is meaningful and significant and then waiting for that job to bring the personal security you’ve hoped for.
- There is the waiting of starting a new business. Will it work? Will it pay off? Will we meet our financial goals?
“We wait in fear for a happy ending we cannot write. We wait for a not yet that feels like a not ever.”—Lewis Smedes
In some ways it’s unfair that I’m writing this message. My waiting is over. Our adoption is complete and my girl is here but the reality is, it’s not over. The last two weeks have showed us that raising a new daughter from Haiti will have its challenges. Turns out we find ourselves right back in the unresolved. Are you living in the unresolved? Is there an area of your life that just seems to linger without real answers? Today we are going to look to God to see if we can find some answers to living with the unresolved.
I wrote about Hebrews 10, a couple of weeks ago before I went to pick up my adopted daughter from Haiti. Did I mention my wife and I adopted? The book of Hebrews is all about reset. It was written to a group of people who needed to do a major spiritual reset. For the people of Israel, worshipping God was all about rituals and religious holidays and sacrifices and that all changed when Jesus came to earth. Instead of animal sacrifices, Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice. He would be their savior. Look with me at Hebrews 10:8-10
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:8-10
All those sacrifices they made would be satisfied in one sacrifice. Jesus dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. Once that was made, all those other sacrifices and ceremonies and rituals became obsolete. This doesn’t sound like a big deal to us 2000 years later, but this was a total lifestyle switch for these people.
These people’s lives were lived in the unresolved. They waited for a savior for hundreds of years. Then when he came he wasn’t exactly what they thought he’d be. They wanted a political savior. They wanted a world conquerer, but this savior turned out to be the savior of their souls. This was a total spiritual switch for these people. Their God journey was going to look very different than what they anticipated. They would have to trade in all these sacrifices and rituals for a relationship with Jesus.
Trading a to-do list for a relationship is not easy, no matter what age you are. Later on in the chapter the author talks about the most difficult part of this God journey. It was the most difficult then and it’s the most difficult now. It’s living in the unresolved. To quote Tom Petty, “You take in on faith. You take it to the heart but the waiting is the hardest part.” Look with me at Hebrews 10: 36-38.
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Hebrews 10:36-38
These people had to live in unresolved space. First they were waiting for a savior. Then Jesus came and left and now they waiting for him to come back. The most important aspect of the reset is not the goal setting. It’s not the goal achieving. It’s the ability to persevere in the middle. To set the goal and not shrink back. That’s what the author is challenging them with. It’s what he’s challenging us with. Don’t quit. Don’t shrink. Hang in there.
- Hang in there in that marriage
- Don’t give up on your kid who’s pushing his limits
- Don’t quit on the friendship even when you get hurt
- Keep pursuing the goal in your job even though no one seems to notice
Then and Now
Hang in there in the middle. Stay focused in the waiting. Chapter 10 gives us the goal and chapter 11 gives us the key to living in the unresolved and some real live examples of people who put it into practice:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.—Hebrews 11:1
It’s the belief in what you do not see. You haven’t reached it yet. But you are hoping for it. The apostle Paul put it like this:
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?–Romans 8:24
If you already have something you don’t hope for it. You have it. Based on these two verses we know this about faith: 1) Faith only exists in the absence of what you hope for. 2) Faith is only alive when you are living in the unresolved. That’s the proving ground for faith. That’s when your faith matures. If you already have something, there is no need for hope. You don’t need to leverage your faith; you have what you are looking for.
The rest of Hebrews 11 gives us examples of people who showed this kind of faith. In the face of dashed hopes and broken dreams, these people did not shrink back. They didn’t give up. They made it through the unresolved times. It would take forever to go through this list so lets just look at a couple of these characters in Hebrews 11:
From this list, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that a big part of the Bible is about living in the unresolved. Why is that? Because life is spent living in the unresolved! Why is it that God puts us there in these extended times of waiting? If he’s all powerful, then why do we have to live in these extended periods of unresolved issues? Honestly, I wish my life was more like an episode of “Full House.” Remember that show? If I lived on “Full House” all of my issues would be resolved in 30 minutes, including 8 minutes of commercials and a song by Uncle Jesse. But life isn’t like that. There is always something unresolved.
Want to Hear about My Adoption?
The week that we went down to Haiti to pick up our daughter and end this 4 year struggle through the unresolved was supposed to be this glorious celebration and in some ways it was, but even then I couldn’t quite escape the unresolved. We got such short notice that we needed to pick up our daughter that we had to scramble to put our plans together. Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We had hoped to leave on Sunday night, but when we went to check-in for our flight we found that our travel plans had been canceled. Turns out in our haste we booked our flight for Saturday, instead of Sunday so we had missed the flight and had to redo our plans.
And our hotel couldn’t have gotten more messed up. I don’t want to defame the company that messed everything up, so I’ll call them Kayakpricepidea. The Saturday before we were to leave I booked our hotel, then on Sunday I called the hotel to make sure they would have an airport shuttle waiting for us, but the hotel didn’t have any record of us coming. So I called Kayakpricepidea. They tried to confirm our reservation but they couldn’t, so at 11:00 the day we were supposed to leave, they sent me an email cancelling our reservation. So I found the hotel on another site and booked it through them. Later that night Kayakpricepidea emailed me saying they would indeed honor our reservation and would not remove the charge from me. Now I had to pay for two hotel rooms through two companies. I spent 3 hours on hold with Kayakpricepidea that day and they would not remove the charge. They said they needed approval from the hotel. When I showed up at the hotel the manager said they hadn’t been contacted by Kayakpricepidea but if she had been they would authorize refunding me. Two days later Kayakpricepidea said they would not refund me because the hotel wouldn’t give me my money back. It took 5 days for Kayakpricepidea to finally refund me. Here I am, in Haiti, trying to celebrate a moment 4 years in the making and I’m distracted by the unresolved.
The Take Away
Life is lived in the unresolved. Why does God do that? God puts us through these extended periods of waiting and hoping and running and hiding in caves because that’s where growth happens. You see God doesn’t care so much about where we are going as who we are when we get there:
- Abraham needed those 25 years so his faith could develop
- Joseph needed those 13 years to prepare him to lead a nation through crisis
- David needed those 15 years so that he could learn to rely on God.**
(**If you want to know where I got those time-frames from, please see their stories in the Bible. Feel free to comment on this post if you need scripture references and I’ll send them to you..)
Many of the psalms David wrote were when he was on the run. When he was being hunted down. Look with me at Psalm 17:
6 I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. 7 Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. 8 Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings Psalm 17:6-8
David wrote those beautiful words in his late teens, early 20’s when he was running from Saul who was trying to kill him.
Life happens in the unresolved. Growth happens in the unresolved. Faith happens in the unresolved. Faith doesn’t even exist, unless it’s unresolved.
People gave us a lot of advice when we were in our 4-year battle to adopt our daughter but here was the wisest piece of advice: A close friend said this to my wife. “I know you have to do a lot of waiting, and it’s hard, but think about this. Who do you want to be when your daughter gets here? Do you want to be anxious, worried, stressed, or do you want to be calm, and relaxed and full of faith?”
I know for a fact that most of you are living in the unresolved. You’re waiting. You’re wondering. You’re hoping. Hoping for a soul mate. Hoping your marriage works out. Hoping to get into the right college. Hoping that your kids turn out. Let me ask you a question. Who do you want to be when the hoping is over? Here’s a short list of ideas
- I want to be a better communicator
- I want to not jump to disastrous conclusions
- I want to bring the calm to my unresolved situation
- I want to learn to be grateful in this day
- I want to be in a more solid place financially
- I want to develop a half full attitude
- I want God to develop my character and to become my fullest self
Where do you want to be when your situation is resolved? Some things you can’t resolve. Some things will not resolve like you want them too. But as you fight for your marriage and hang in there with your kids and try to find meaning to your job, what do you want to be happening in your heart? Because I have news for you, life is lived in the unresolved. Let me show you two more verses in Hebrews 11. They say almost exactly the same thing. The idea is so important the author says it twice:
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.—Hebrews 11:13
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11: 39-40
Everything these people wanted wasn’t resolved in their lifetime because what they were part of was a bigger story. It’s the story of God on Earth and I’ve got some good news for you, that won’t be resolved until Jesus comes back to Earth and makes everything right. In the meantime, it’s up to you and me to do our jobs and to live and grow in the unresolved.
[bctt tweet=”Life is Lived in the Unresolved. How are you going to live while you are there? #CanyonSprings” username=”canyon_springs”]