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  • Katie Smith

Turn it upside down

When there's a problem, when things aren't working, we look for a solution. Something needs to change. However, change usually alters our sense of balance. It feels hard because change takes away our normal concrete rhythms. Even though change is a lifelong process, it feels unnatural probably because God intended for us to stay in one place with Him forever, but sin mandated a change.

Have you ever heard someone you love complain of something that feels hard or backwards, or even wrong. You lend a listening ear and then begin problem-solving-- offering helpful suggestions or sure-fire cures. It's as natural as eating when we feel hunger pangs. When someone we love hurts, we want to take away the pain. Something, even minor, should change to make the situation more bearable.

But if you are on the other end of the scenario and someone offers you advice on how to fix your problem, and if that "helpful advice" means you have to humbly turn your life upside down, then you tend to forget the love they had for you, and focus on your rightful stance.

It's humbling to be told you have been looking at a book upside down all your life--to be told that the reason you don't understand the letters on the page is because you are reading the page upside down.

For this reason, many of us don't even entertain the idea of flipping the book. That would mean admitting we were wrong from the beginning.

The unfavorable word, "repent," means to turn in a different direction from the one you are going. I for one don't mind receiving advice in an area that I know nothing about or clearly have missed a step. But I feel hesitant, even aghast, when told to do something differently that I've been doing the same way my whole life.

Being told I have to turn around and start again in a different manner just feels wrong. I forget what it must feel like to be constantly "trained up in the way I should go." Children receive "helpful advice" on a regular basis, but as adults, we don't recognize our need for life training.

Once we are humble enough to turn the book one-hundred and eighty degrees, then we can reap many rewards. We open ourselves to a whole new language, a whole new experience, a whole new story moving in a whole new direction. We don't receive anything by digging our heels in the ground and reading backwards.

We need someone we trust, someone we love, to gently and boldly keep us accountable-- focusing us on their loving advice rather than our own backwards book.

Currently we have no job, neighborhood, church, or organization to "keep us accountable." However, there has been no shortage of humbling circumstances revealing our regular need for wisdom. God is so near when we call to Him and seek His wisdom. "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you" (James 1:5).

Even in advice though, we need wisdom for whom we ask. Notice that God "never finds fault" when we ask. He doesn't condemn when we humbly recognize our backwards way of reading, and those who are loving us through His Spirit should have that same sense of humility when offering us help.

God has always provided us with people, and we are so thankful to those of you who pray, check-in, and keep us accountable on the road, and for the various churches, friends, and organizations we've encountered along the way who point us right back to humbly approaching God in reverence and gratitude.

Sometimes we all need to turn the book upside down to see if we were reading it wrong the whole time.... If you are able to laugh and not take yourself too seriously, you'll always be open to wonderful gift.

~Turning upside down, Carefully and Carelessly

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