“You must go deeper”
I didn’t want to hear the words my mentor was whispering to my heart. In fact it took many sessions before I opened my heart to hearing the whisper, “You must go deeper.”
I didn’t understand what he meant by the words, “Going deeper.”
Even if I understood what he meant I feared this pathway.
Would it make me more productive, less lonely, useful and focused?
In all honesty I was looking for the shallow responses to life. I wanted the externals of my life changed so that the internal would change. The invitation to go deeper wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I wanted to be a princess on the beach being cared for.
I can so relate to Martha of the Bible. All she wanted to be was productive, useful, focused and creative. I too wanted to create that in my own life. But like Martha my soul often felt scattered and frazzled. At times I struggled to carry my own emotional weight let alone someone else’s. Like Martha I was always looking for people and external circumstances to be the answer.
Like Martha I looked to the shallow for answers.
“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
How many times have I wanted the externals changed, thinking that this would change my inner world. A different job, a different church, a different set of friends.
As a culture we are so good at changing our external world. We change our external circumstances and yet our soul can still be hurried, scattered, frazzled, struggling to be real, to be seen, to deeply connect, to be known and beloved.
For me whenever I changed my external circumstances it wasn’t long before my soul began to whisper its relentless whisper of discontent.
I was shallow looking in the shallow for answers that only come from the deep.
The invitation by my mentor to go deep was scary.
I am sure that for Martha accepting Jesus’ invitation to go deeper was scary.
To give up blaming externals is frightening. It means taking responsibility for our own soul, for its health, believing it can be well no matter the circumstance.
Martha had to give up blaming Mary for the state of her soul. She had to give up seeing Mary as the rescue package to what was happening on the inside of her. That would have required faith, courage and humility.
It meant believing that God was enough.
Was I ready to enter into that walk of faith?
Could I really give up grumbling and blaming? Discontentedness and comparison are hard companions to let go of and yet they keep us in the shallows.
Could God be enough in the broken parts, the lonely parts, the messy, the lack?
It would have been so much easier if Jesus had just met Martha’s external needs. Her need to perform, her need to be significant, her need to create, her need for busy, her need to keep all the plates in the air. It would justify the condition of my soul was due to external forces not internal forces.
I understand why we stay in the shallows.
It’s safe, it is where we are in control. Our feet can still touch the ground.
Whilst I can blame I am still in control.
When I wait for my externals to change so that I can be happy I don’t have to change. I don’t have to do internal work.
It is scary to go out into the deep.
It is hard for us to believe that when our circumstances cry out lack that God has a table prepared for us. That this table is full and overflowing. That there is enough at the table for my soul to cry out, “It is well with my soul.”
I think when Martha heard the invitation to go deep it wasn’t easy.
She had to give up wanting her externals to change the internal working of her soul.
But this is what I think she found when she came to the table, when she chose the deep.
She found space and time for her soul to be rested and nourished.
I think she found in Jesus more than enough. He became a friend. I love what Trevor Hudson writes, ” Many people believe that Jesus is far more interested in sorting out the sin in our messed up lives than in sharing in a simple friendship with us.” I think she began to discover what heaven is like on earth. To do friendship with the divine.
His words stimulated her, His presence enthralled her, His vision and mission exciting to be a part of. I think her focus, her productivity, her desire to be useful became more intentional and specific.
The secret gift that we almost miss when we read this story is the gift of a girl friend. Mary was present to Martha. She was present all along.
Martha’s soul was so intent on fixing the externals that she couldn’t see Mary and what Mary was offering her. Mary wanted to go deep with Martha but Martha in all of her productivity couldn’t see Mary. Mary gave time and being. Mary created space for Martha to join her on this sacred journey of going deep, of leaving the shallow.
I love being creative, I love being productive, I love being useful but I am also loving going deep. To leave the shallows of life is both scary but exciting.
To discover that Jesus has a table prepared for me in every and any circumstance is scary thrilling. My heart wants to explode with joy at times, ‘He is here, He is here and He is good.”
My soul now knows how to find the good things of life. The place of peace, the place of thanksgiving and joy. Sometimes it takes me a while to get there but at least I now know how to get there.
I know now that externals rarely change the condition of my soul and working on my soul and its health is so important.
The unexpected gift that I have found is the secret friends. The Mary’s and the Martha’s who want to go out into the deep and to discover that He is Here, He is Here and He is good. Can you believe that!
Life is good.
Here are the things I do to train myself to go deeper:
- I make time for friendship with Jesus. This means trying to understand what he’s thinking, what he’s doing and what we can do together. Real friendships take time and effort. I want this friendship so I’m willing to put in.
- I choose to remember. Jesus asked me to remember him when I come to the table to take communion. This means seeing that he is here and he is good. I choose to exchange grumbling and complaining for thanksgiving and praise. I choose to remember to look for him in my day to day. To see him walking the planet with love and grace and friendship.
- Finally, I choose to see the secret friends. The ones that want to go deep, the ones that want to leave the shallow and to do this sacred journey of the deep. I have been blessed with so many secret friends along the way. They don’t all look like me, they don’t all come from the same class, some are young and some are old, some of them are plain weird but they have made space for me at their table to do this journey of going into the deep.
The whisper, “You must go deeper” has been soul saving for me.
If you want to have a conversation like the one my mentor began with me the kettle is on.