Do you identify with feeling risen and complete every day? Neither do I. I’ve recently begun a new devotional book called Disciplines: A Book of Daily Devotions 2019, published by The Upper Room. I love the depth and doable nature of the daily readings. I feel myself drawn to it in the mornings out of spiritual thirst rather than obligation. I was especially touched by Daniel Benedict’s words in today’s reading: “We prefer to think of our identity with the risen Christ, rather than to embrace our daily experience of dying and rising with him.” He references Romans 6, pointing toward the unity we can have with Christ through Christ’s death and resurrection. As I reflect on Benedict’s words through the lens of a psychologist, I feel much more able to identify with Christ in the rhythm of the inherent ups and downs of human emotion and experience than I do when I try to pull myself into a permanent new creation status. Every day there is dying and rising to be done in the comfort of Christ’s companionship and guidance. There have been times when I’ve been instructed to see myself as entirely different and changed from who I was prior to following Christ. There can be comfort in the idea of a behavioral clean slate. Knowing Christ certainly results in life change. However, we can become stuck in ruminating in our shame about earlier selves and decisions, when even our worst decisions can be a source of learning and growth. During my undergraduate years, I transferred twice to different colleges, hoping for a new and better experience at each new geographic location as I desired to bury my old selves. But amid a new campus and new friends, I was still me. I faced the same challenges and the same needs. I had the same strengths. The more I grow in faith, the more I see that I am always who I’ve been at every age, and there are some enduring characteristics that, for better or for worse, Christ welcomes and embraces into his presence, understanding firsthand the complexity of being human and our daily need for renewal and restoration.
How are you revisiting the need for spiritual renewal today?