Peeling an Onion
I recently had a conversation with someone about how God has led me to become a writer. I shared with them that I never set out to write a book, let alone four, but rather that I started searching for answers about questions I had. I was as shocked as anyone when along the way He said write a book. I remember at the time feeling completely blindsided and having no idea how to take the pile of notes I had on placemats, napkins, notepads etc and make a book.
My new friend then said the same thing I have heard probably thousands of times. They expressed how impressed they were. I responded quickly the same answer I have had since the beginning. “Just because I wrote a book on this topic does not mean I have it all figured out, it just means I am still learning the lesson and want to help others not hit the same pitfalls I did.”
Here is the way I see our Christian walk and to be honest I think most if not all of us have the wrong perspective. The world trains us to think about goals, learning and accomplishments as some sort of staircase where we are faced with a stair and have to learn a lesson. Once we learn this lesson it’s as if we can then take the next step and are faced with a new stair. It’s as if by adding these stairs we are growing. I am sorry but I disagree.
I think our growth is like peeling an onion. When we face a struggle or some lesson we need to learn God gives us the opportunity to apply it to a layer of our life. When we do this He begins to peel back that layer of the onion. However, contrary to the staircase approach which makes us think we are moving on to a different or higher lesson what He really gives us is a chance to apply this same principle to another layer. You see I believe it is not about going higher it’s about going deeper. We never learn in a one and done fashion. Our faith journey is a series of opportunities to become more and more like Jesus, not in a higher, holier and more perfect way but rather in a humble, servant hearted way applying kingdom principles repeatedly until our nature is a reflection of His love.
Let me ask you have you ever left church after having a joy filled time of worship and preaching and found yourself dealing with road rage as someone cuts you off or makes some driving error? How can that be if you just learned to love one another , or to love your neighbor as yourself? If we had learned that lesson and moved up the staircase the other driver making a mistake would not make us angry. Instead that incident is a chance to take the knife (or tool) and apply it to the onion of our heart and character and do some peeling. You see God gives us our knives or tools; studying Scripture, decreeing His truth over our circumstances, prayer and worship. We just need to apply them.
Have you ever heard some say something about themselves or someone else to the effect of “wow, I would have never guessed so and so would do that… react that way… struggle.. etc.”? You see the staircase mentality is all about ourselves; making ourselves feel better, holding ourselves and others to some false expectations and so on. The staircase method is all about measuring up to some false notion of who we are, what we should do and how to “help” ourselves and others grow. Sadly, it produces no sustainable growth because eventually we struggle with feeling we don’t measure up, we should be handling things better. In short, it produces condemnation, guilt and shame.
The onion perspective shows us a different view of who we are. It leads us to the freeing knowledge that we are all the same, we are all learning lessons and either taking the opportunity God provides to apply them or we are just sitting there a tightly layered onion. Consider this, would any cook take an onion and toss it into a pan, skins and all, stir it around and expect it to flavor anything? No, it must be cleaned, skin removed, peeled, trimmed, diced and only then is it good for adding flavor. This lifetime is our process to be cleaned, peeled, etc.
If you have ever found yourself in a season and felt you were failing step back, reassess your measuring stick and despite how you feel pick up your knives (tools) and start to apply them and peel back a layer of the onion. It may take time, it will be a process and perhaps it will produce some tears along the way but it will also bring His nature and love deeper. It will bring freedom, healing, strength, growth and joy. Then be ready for God to lead you to apply it to the next layer. Let’s go deep!