Becoming

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nichole forbes -becoming-3

I wish I were, but I’m not.

I wish I were wise and good and gentle and kind.
I wish I were delightful and loving and caring.
I wish I were calm and demure.
I wish I were gracious and humble.
I wish I were chill and even-keeled and steady.
I wish I were forgiving and slow to anger.

Oh, I wish I were a great many things, but I am not.
I am becoming, though.

There was a time when I was unkind to myself, when I was harsh and unforgiving with my own shortcomings. I would know my own heart, see the deficits and feel weak and small and so very much the failure. I would berate myself, chastising myself for all that I wasn’t. I’d wish I were so much more, but I just wasn’t.

In those unkind years, I lived in fear. I was afraid of what people thought of me. I was afraid of trying new things, of following my passions. I was afraid of my own voice and my own gifts. Those were dark, sad years full of judgment that I heaped on my own head.

I can’t pinpoint the moment that my thinking shifted, but like a slow dawn creeping over the horizon, I began to see myself, and my place in the world, in a different light. Gentleness seeped into my heart and grace trickled into my soul. Without realizing until it was already happening, I was held buoyant with the hope of who I could be, of who I was becoming. It took years, really, but I was finally learning that we become far more frequently than we are.

I also take comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who has ever had to bide their time as they become.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is about a guy who becomes more of who he already is in one giant leap of faith. Joshua was the new guy. Moses had passed the torch on to Joshua. Young, faithful, determined Joshua. He was known but yet unknown. He was the right hand guy but no one—save God—knew that Joshua was the right guy. But circumstances being what they were, that was all about to change.

Joshua had the Israelites camping out on the banks of the Jordan River. They had to get from one side to the other. And by “they” I mean roughly 2.5 million people. Scholars estimate that it would have taken about a month of constant travelling to get all those folks across the river. No easy feat, but Joshua had it covered. After listening to God and following instructions to the letter, the whole 12 tribes of Israel crossed to the other side, unharmed and with dry feet. But what really catches my attention is what happened next.

Joshua instructed 12 men, one from each tribe, to retrieve a stone from the middle of the river to build a monument of remembrance on the Jericho side of the river. He wanted the people to have a physical, tangible reminder of how God safely delivered them on their journey. Something they could show their children and their children’s children for years to come.

Nice.

But it’s the second monument that speaks to my soul. The one Joshua built himself. The one he placed in the middle that reminds me that becoming is not a bad place to be.

Before Joshua, or a single Israelite, set one foot in the River Jordan, God had a little chat with Joshua.

“Today I will begin to make you a great leader.” —Joshua 3:7

This is where Joshua started to become what God already meant him to be. This was the beginning. The beginning, not the completion. And while the people’s respect for Joshua grew leaps and bounds during their time at the River, God wasn’t finished with Joshua. Joshua hadn’t arrived, in any sense of the word. He had just started where God meant him to continue.

As the 12 men were building the monument on the bank, Joshua constructed his own monument. He chose stones from the Jericho side of the river and, one by one, carried them to the middle of the riverbed. He placed them, one on top of the other, high enough to be seen from the banks once the river started to flow again. He built his own monument to remember by.

This took time and intention. It wouldn’t have been easy work. I wonder what Joshua was thinking as he walked back and forth, from the shore to mid-river and back again. I wonder what doubts and insecurities he laid to rest as he placed each stone. I wonder what burden was eased from his heart as he placed the last stone, squared his shoulders and returned to the banks of the River Jordan to lead his people, God’s chosen people, to their next victory. I wonder if Joshua looked towards the river, towards his monument, as he circled Jericho to remind himself of what God had already done, to remind him of God’s enduring faithfulness as we become.

I wonder.

I wonder, but this I know: few people are born as the best versions of themselves. No one enters the world entirely gracious and kind and good. No one enters the world filled with courage, strength and vision. Those traits come with practice, with perseverance in the face of regular, everyday life stuff. Even prodiges have to practice their gifts in order to hone them to near perfection. Near perfection.

Near perfection is all that can be hoped for because there is always room for more. There is always room to become more than we are right now.

How wonderful is that? How wonderful is it that God gives us all the time in the world to become? How generous and loving is it to be His Masterpiece in progress?

Becoming takes time. Becoming can make me impatient and doubtful. That’s why building a monument in the middle is so important. We need a marker in the middle to see how far we’ve come and how much opportunity for growth we still have. We need a place to look back on to remind us of where we were and how God has led us to where we are now. We need a monument, our own stones of remembrance, along this journey of life so we don’t lose hope or lose our way.

I wish I were a great many things, but I’m not. All I can claim to be is becoming. All I can hope for is to become more than I am. All I need to be is willing to become more of who God has already created me to be. So, I am becoming.

I look to the monuments that I have built along the way and I know—I can see—my own progress. I can see the becoming and I can claim it for my own. I can call out the goodness that is growing in me and through me. I can see it.

I can see me in the middle of becoming.

_________________

Reflect:

Who are you becoming? What goodness can you call out in your own journey? What monument can you build in your soul to remind you of God’s faithfulness in your journey?

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Nichole Forbes
Nichole is just a regular gal loved by an extraordinary God. She believes in community, justice, freedom, reconciliation and the sacredness of storytelling. Her journey to connect with her Metis culture and history has been her own liberation song. She tries to live bravely every day and say the kind words that need to be heard. She raises her three Not-So-Wee-Ones in the middle of the Canadian prairies with her favorite person ever—her husband, Brad. Nichole blogs, writes and speaks on the things that fill her heart and frame her world. 
Nichole Forbes
Nichole Forbes

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