The Long Loneliness to Holiness...

I've had a couple of conversations this week about suffering. Suffering is a uniquely personal reality that has many faces. The wife of a young couple (mid-20's) our church supports in Moldova diagnosed with acute Leukemia this week. A close friend of one of my sons killed last night in Atlanta - leaving friends and family behind to grieve. A woman whose heart is wide open to God paralyzed by emotional illness.  A friend learning to live in a marriage with little hope of change.

Suffering always feels long and lonely. 

I read something today that resonated with me...

"I needed a context for developing patient attentiveness to the ways that holiness develops over a lifetime, which necessarily includes stretches of boredom, and pain and suffering, which Dorothy Day named, 'the long loneliness'".

The Pastor by Eugene Peterson, p.217

The 'place' we find ourselves in - our health, our marriage, our family, our friendships, our work, our church - these are the everyday 'contexts' where holiness is developed. Holiness is developed when we enjoy a quiet afternoon of reading the Bible or a slow morning of prayer and journaling. Holiness is developed when we're thankful for good health and good relationships. Holiness is developed during a 'holy moment' when we experience God's presence in a special way. Holiness is developed when we are surprised by God's grace and generosity. Holiness is developed when we rejoice in our freedom from patterns of thinking, feeling or behaving that have held us for too long. Holiness is developed when we celebrate forgiveness from the guilt and shame of past decisions. 

Holiness is also developed during the confusing seasons of boredom, pain and suffering. That holiness is somehow being formed here is much harder to see and much stranger to understand. That God might be doing something here is hard to grasp - intellectually and emotionally.

What is required of me here is a more 'patient attentiveness' to what God is shaping in me while in this place - a 'longer view' which embraces this place as part of the lifetime God uses to develop holiness in me - and a courageous decision to linger in the loneliness of this place until it's work is done.

Fighting for your heart,

Gary