We Won’t Thrive Alone

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M_KathyI always remember an Easter message I shared at The Refuge years ago. We had been talking about the Friday-Saturday-Sunday movement of Holy Week, and how these movements are similar to the rhythms of life. We experience death (Friday), lament & grief & reality (Saturday), and new hope (Sunday) over and over again in our life, relationships, and faith. There’s also another movement associated with those three days of Jesus’ crucifixion, reality of death, and resurrection, that merge with our experience. We can become victims (stuck in the reality of injustice, Friday), survivors (carrying on but not really living, Saturday), or thrivers (living bravely in the beauty of resurrection and hope, Sunday).

It was a fascinating conversation because many people struggled with the word “thrive” in that moment. It felt too much to hope for—to actually thrive, to live, to do well, to flourish.

We know how to live as victims or survivors; that’s familiar. But to be thrivers? Whoa, that’s requires a whole different level of hope, trust, and courage. So many of us feel unworthy of thriving. That it’s impossible, or too much to hope for. That it’s for someone braver or smarter or richer or (you fill in the blanks_______ ) than us. Thriving often feels unrealistic or impossible.

In life in the trenches with people, I am constantly struck by the incredible strength of people to survive. Against all odds, people find their way through poverty and pain and heartbreak and abuse and life’s unexpected shipwrecks. They keep on going despite the obstacles.

Surviving is amazing, and I want to honor it. It takes huge guts to move out of victim-ness and into survival. At the same time, I am sad that thriving and flourishing feels like it’s not an option for so many.

I can’t tell you the number of men and women I have talked to over the years who believe there’s nothing more for them beyond “Saturday”, beyond existing, beyond surviving, beyond making-it-through-the-day-as-best-they-can. It makes me think of these often-quoted words of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” What it would mean if we believed in the possibility of a hope and a future in new ways—not just for us as individuals, but for everyone, for communities, for the wider world?

The path of least resistance is always to just exist; to give up on hope. And when life’s beaten us down in different ways, when the grooves of injustice and oppression have tried to determine our course, when brokenness tries to steal our worth, when pain feels more familiar than peace, that path becomes easier and easier to follow. It’s so much harder to really live, to prosper, to grow, to dream, to flourish.

I have come to believe, more than ever, that Sunday living—a life of thriving, flourishing, blooming—is only possible if we have people who will call us to life. We need cheerleaders, flame-fanners, encouragers, coaches, and faithful friends who remind us that just surviving was never the idea, who tell us that despite the obstacles, we are meant to thrive as God’s children.

To not just “know” our worth, but live out of our worth.

To be secure in God’s love for us.

To step into our dignity as God’s image bearers.

To share our gifts, our talents, our passions, our hopes, our dreams with the world in any way we can.

Thriving or flourishing does not mean money in the bank or our mental illness healed or our disabilities disappeared or our marriages unbroken or smooth sailing. If that is the measure, we are all toast. So many people in this world will never be able to experience it.

No, thriving means living in hope. It means seeing the beauty amidst the brokenness. Stepping toward dreams, no matter how small or big. Believing we have something to contribute. Loving and being loved. And thriving won’t happen alone.

Before I was in deep community, I was only surviving. It’s all I knew how to do. But over the years, side by side, eye to eye, heart to heart, other men and women who share my same experience of knowing how to survive but not really how to thrive, a new world has opened up. Light has poked through out of the darkness, courage has emerged out of paralyzing fear, and I have started to taste what it feels like to live and not just exist. To begin to thrive, to flourish. It’s scary. It’s hard. It’s unfamiliar. But it’s so worth it, too.

I was made to thrive and flourish. You were made to thrive and flourish. The men and women and children who never will have access to the internet and read this post are made to thrive and flourish. My friends who have beaten down by life in so many ways are made to thrive and flourish.

This is why we need to work to create little pockets of love where men and women, young and old, rich and poor, black and white, and every shape and size can flourish and move beyond just surviving or existing.

We won’t thrive alone.

_______________

Image credit: subflux

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Kathy Escobar
Kathy Escobar co-pastors The Refuge, an eclectic faith community in North Denver dedicated to those on the margins of life and faith. She blogs regularly about life and faith at kathyescobar.com and is the author of Down We Go--Living out the Wild Ways of Jesus in Action. She lives in Arvada, Colorado with her husband, Jose, and five kids. Her most recent book Faith Shift can be found on Amazon.com
Kathy Escobar

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  • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

    Love the connection you made with Easter, what a challenge, to really release myself into thriving. Thanks for this reminder of another reason we need to be in deep community.

  • O, Kathy … I needed to read this today. Thank you.

  • We were created to know and be known.

  • Bev Murrill

    Kathy, I so agree that thriving comes when we have people who call us to life! Powerful point. Thanks … I want to be one of those – a Life Caller! Thanks for being that to so many.

    • yes, the world does not need more stone-throwers, it needs more life-callers 😉

  • “Thriving or flourishing does not mean money in the bank or our mental illness healed or our disabilities disappeared or our marriages unbroken or smooth sailing. If that is the measure, we are all toast. So many people in this world will never be able to experience it.

    No, thriving means living in hope. It means seeing the beauty amidst the brokenness.”
    This is such an important definition. Thank you for articulating it so bravely.

  • oh wow, this speaks to my heart. I’m lapping up your words this morning.
    This is such incredible wisdom:
    “We can become victims (stuck in the reality of injustice, Friday), survivors (carrying on but not really living, Saturday), or thrivers (living bravely in the beauty of resurrection and hope, Sunday).”

    Thank you for writing this Kathy.

  • Finding the sacredness of all of life within our pain and brokenness is crucial to thriving. I am learning to practice this through faithful presence in the place I live with others as a body together.

    Thank you Kathy for the encouraging words!

    • great to see you here, mark, thanks for your beautiful truths.

  • Anne-Marie

    ‘To step into our dignity as God’s image bearers.’ so much beauty here. As a survivor it is a great challenge to walk in newness. I think radical life requires no less than resurrection. But it’s so difficult to remember that it is ours. I especially think those who’ve been trodden down do not feel they deserve it – that is huge. Thank you for this lovely word.

    • thanks, anne-marie. yes, the damage of abuse is so hard to overcome, and i am with you “radical life requires no less than resurrection” to believe that we are worth something and have our dignity restored is no small thing. here’s to resurrection.

  • Nicole A. Joshua

    Kathy, that verse from Jeremiah is so apt. God’s people had lost hope; they had been exiled, their identity as God’s people were being challenged, their temple was destroyed. And into their, what seemed to be, hopeless situation, the prophet speaks words of hope, words that called them to thrive in the midst of a hopeless situation. Thank you for reminding me that thriving is for everyone, even me 🙂 And I am thankful that SheLoves is a community that calls me to thrive 🙂

    • that is one of the reasons i love sheloves, too! thanks for taking time to share.

  • pastordt

    GORGEOUS, Kathy. Thank you so much for these powerful and true words – exactly what I needed to read right this minute. And I love, love, love what you did with this month’s theme. Perfection.

  • Saskia Wishart

    This is amazing Kathy. Thank you for this.

  • Katie Richardson

    I needed to read this today and to reminded what life is really about. Thank you.

  • O, Kathy. You always nudge my heart awake. Thank you.

    I long to be a woman who does not just “know” my worth, but lives out my worth. (Deep knowing would be a great first step though.)

    Kupa and I just moved apartments and our new home is way more conducive to communing. I’m currently in the throes of what could blossom into deep community over years and I’m already feeling the tingling of my skin and heart thawing.

    So much truth and wisdom and HEART here. Thank you.

    Love the reminder than we can’t thrive alone.

    xoxo

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