The Gate, Part II

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Bethany Suckrow -The Gate, Partll4

Here is a thing that I’m learning:

At some point in your life, you will walk through the gate that someone’s life made for you–a space in the exact shape of their unique, specific being, much the same shape as a question mark, so that you can finally enter the world. It will change everything you thought you knew, and you may have more questions than answers but it won’t be a bad thing.

And in another point in your life, you will be the gate for someone else to walk through.

As I’ve written before, the gate I walked through was my mother’s life. But when I shared that post last month I was only thinking about how grateful I was for the space that she created for me. It wasn’t until I read Lynn Morrissey’s comment that I thought about the gate I might become for someone else:

“I sense that [your mother] entered many gates into people’s hearts, many gates through which she administered compassion and generosity. I sense that she herself was a gateway—yes, in being a conduit to your birth—but also a gate through which people could enter freely to been seen and heard by her… It is really a breathtaking thought—to be a gate, and not a barred door. Jesus said that He was the gate and that all who enter by Him will be saved. Jesus was a kind, good, and gentle shepherd. Would that we would all be kind and gentle so that others might be drawn through the gate to Him. Would that we would emulate Him in all His ways.”

Oh, to be the gate and not the barred door.

To embody a Gospel that simple and profound.

To walk through the gate, and then turn around and hold it open for someone else to walk through.

To make my life in the shape of a question for someone to ask, so that they might discover more empathy and love.

I’ve had to lay down the mantle of evangelicalism a thousand times over, to forgive myself and accept the fact that converting everyone and correcting people’s lives was a poor interpretation of the Gospel that I could never fulfill.

But what then, is my purpose?

It turns out that giving people the freedom to be themselves in my post-evangelical life has freed me in a way that I haven’t known what to do with. My identity was so wrapped up in the idea of fixing everything and having all the right answers. Who am I now? What do I do instead?

In this part of my life, it’s the small moments of grace that are reshaping me. It happens in comments sections and conversations and podcast episodes and pages of my favorite books. Grace upon grace, I’m bending and stretching toward something honest and beautiful. And I have long since given up on being the gatekeeper or having the market cornered on Absolute Truth. I am grateful, even for the pain of it.

There is more space, there is more room, there is more love. Come in, come in.

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Bethany Suckrow
I’m a writer and blogger at at bethanysuckrow.com, where I shares both prose and poetry on faith, grace, grief and hope. I am currently working on my first book, a memoir about losing my mother to cancer. My musician-husband, Matt, and I live in transition as we move our life from the Chicago suburbs to Nashville.
Bethany Suckrow
Bethany Suckrow

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Bethany Suckrow
  • I feel like my own faith has shaped and shifted in similar ways and, now, “There is more space, there is more room, there is more love. Come in, come in.” I love this. Thank you.

  • Bethany, you’ve prompted me to ask questions about the shape of my own life — Am I an arrow pointing to Someone bigger, more lovely? Or am I a stop sign? A bottle neck where people have to check their individuality in order to fit through my narrowness?

    I think it’s important for believers to stand back and wonder whether we are living a “come in, come in” kind of life, so thanks for getting me started.

  • Lynn Morrissey

    Bethany
    Imagine my surprise to have my comments quoted here. I’m glad you felt what I said was worth sharing, but it was all inspired by your thoughtful post. And I love what you say here: “To walk through the gate, and then turn around and hold it open for someone else to walk through.” *That* is how the Gospel message is shared, isn’t it? We don’t keep the Good News of Jesus to ourselves, but we turn around, and open the gate, and extend the invitation for others to enter. We surely don’t slam the door shut. And oh my goodness…. as you say, we are not the gatekeeper! It is not our job to fix others, or to keep score as gatekeeper, keeping track of others’ hearts. Only the Lord can do that. Only He knows what’s inside each one. We just extend invitations, and invite questions, and ask them of others. How else can we get to know each other? When we slap periods and exclamation marks on relationships, and don’t ping-pong back and forth in dialogue, we are barred doors and closed books. It’s when I care enough to ask someone what she thinks, what she feels, and why she reacts the way she does, that I can get to know who she really is (rather than presuming my caricature of her is the real person). I’m rambling a little here, but I just wanted you to know I love this post, and the other, and I love who your mother helped shape you to be. Keep pondering. Keep sharing. Keep asking questions and asking that we do too. And keep seeking God’s answers.
    Love
    Lynn