Love In the Middle: Guest Post by Lisa O’Brien
Our guest post today comes from a new friend, Lisa O’Brien. Lisa is the Recovery Pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, TX. I think you’ll appreciate her perspective on grace, truth and love, especially as it relates to how we lead. You can read more from Lisa at her blog and follow her on twitter too!
Love In the Middle
I have been reading a few authors recently that combine the principles and ideas from Psychology and Counseling with Biblical understanding about spiritual growth. It has sparked passion in me to learn more and I am devouring the concepts. Many of them seem to be already in my thinking, although this is the first time I have read them. They are resonating with my spirit in a way that feels like they have always been there.
With my recovery background, I see spiritual growth as a process that takes time and is often referred to as a spiritual awakening. The idea of a spiritual awakening rings true for me, based on my experience. I can look back over my journey and see pivotal moments, monumental decisions, incredible experiences that led me into a new understanding of God and made me hungry and thirsty to learn more. In the pursuit of that hunger and thirst, I learned new things about God and His word, I encountered Him in unique ways, and I grew to trust Him more. The sum of those things has led to deeper intimacy with God and a vibrant relationship with my divine Creator.
The concepts of Grace and Truth have been rumbling around in my brain. The idea that broken people (and we ALL are) need to experience Grace in the context of relationships in order to grow, is one that resonates deeply with me. Grace is the expression of undeserved favor that moves us closer to seeing ourselves how God sees us. It allows us to step into the truth that we are uniquely designed by a loving Creator that loves us and longs to be in relationship with us. This kind of grace is often what people experience in therapy and/or counseling. A safe environment is created so they can explore parts of themselves they have been previously fearful to examine and opn themselves up to new thinking.
Truth is the other side of the coin on the path to growth. We all need it and yet often times work desperately to avoid it. Truth is hard to deliver and hard to receive. As humans, we have mechanisms built-in that allow us to deny, avoid, minimize, generalize, and even spiritualize the truth that surrounds us. All of these mechanisms are in place to separate us from the hard reality of the truth. I was recently reminded of a concept that allows truth to transform us…Reality is your friend. Sadly, most of us live as if it is our enemy and a dangerous enemy that is hunting us down to kill and destroy us. Truth is also something we encounter in therapy, and it seems to suck all the more when we have paid for it!
So, it’s got me thinking not only about my own spiritual growth, but about those that I lead and influence. As we step into the lives of others and try to positively engage them in discussions about spiritual growth, these two elements are necessary. Truth and Grace are ingredients to catalyze next steps towards God. The two concepts seem so opposite of each other. Their opposition to each other reminds me of a teeter-totter. One side is Grace and the other is Truth and we have one foot on both sides. As we communicate with people, how do we keep both feet on each concept and balance them in a way that is helpful to the people we are leading and remain in balance?
The answer, in my thinking, is Love. Love is in the middle of Grace and Truth and allows the two to positively exist together to lead towards spiritual growth. Love is the balancing agent as we engage people in relationships and conversations. I’m considering the reality that loving relationships which include grace and truth have the power to revolutionize lives.
What are you currently thinking about spiritual growth? How are you experiencing Grace and Truth? Is Love the balancing agent?