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Last week, I wrote about the heaviness of holding a dichotomy of emotions in the aftermath of the Bridgewater College shooting. I am holding grief and joy. I am holding fear and peace. I am holding anger and love. I am holding anxiety and trust. I am holding guilt and gratitude. 

I had to make space for the dichotomy of emotions within me.

I had to hold space for both.

And that wasn’t wrong. Both were present, so it was ok for me to feel both. And I allowed myself to hold both the grief and the joy, the fear and the peace, the anger and the love, the anxiety and the trust, the guilt and the gratitude.

But eventually, the balance began to tip. 

This week, as the hustle of life started to flood in again, and the voices of things we had put off for 2 weeks grew louder, I’ve found myself processing the question – 

When is it ok to lean heavier on the joy than the grief, the peace than the fear, the love than the anger, the trust than the anxiety, the gratitude than the guilt? 

When is it ok to let the balance tip in the positive direction? 

I don’t really have an answer for you, but I have recognized a pattern in my world this week that was helpful for me, and may be helpful for you as well.

It was a pattern of holding space for both, but moving in the direction of forward. Tipping the balance towards the positive. Leaning heavier on the joy, peace, love, trust and gratitude. 

It was the pattern of leaning into God.

John Newton writes in The Utterance of the Heart, “All our concerns are in His hands, and therefore, safe. His path is in the deep waters, His thoughts and methods of conduct are as high above ours, as the heavens are high above the earth; and he often takes a course for accomplishing His purposes directly contrary to what our narrow views would prescribe. He wounds in order to heal, kills that He may make alive, casts down when He designs to raise, brings a death upon our feelings, wishes, and prospects when He is about to give us the desire of our hearts.”

Do you see the pattern that God often uses? He takes the pain and turns it into joy. He takes the fear and turns it into peace. He takes the anger and turns it into love. He takes the anxiety and turns it into trust. He takes the guilt and turns it into gratitude. 

He is the one to do it. We just have to look to Him for help. 

As I thought more about this, I grew curious about John Newton. I know him as the one who wrote, “Amazing Grace” and some guy in the history of the Christian faith. That was about the extent of my knowledge of him but when I looked further, I found out that he was a captain of slave ships and an investor in the slave trade, but later, after giving his heart to Jesus, John Newton became an abolitionist. 

The balance tipped. 

It tipped toward Jesus. 

For Newton, it wasn’t an instant thing. It took years of getting to know Jesus – learning about His character, His nature and His love of all – years of the balance tipping before he walked fully into abolitionism.  

Only Jesus could have done that. 

This also reminded me of Paul, who boasted about being the biggest hater of Christians, willing to do anything to imprison and kill them, until he met Jesus Christ. He then became one of the most powerful influencers for Christianity. The balance tipped towards Jesus. It tipped instantly for him as if someone put a large rock on the scale, dropping it completely to the one side. 

Only Jesus could have done that. 

And it reminded me of myself, once a slave to sin and shame, but now a daughter of the King, the Most High God, who fully loves me, fully knows me and has fully forgiven me. 

Only Jesus could have done that. 

We simply cannot do that powerful of a change, we cannot tip the balance and we cannot move in the direction of forward on our own. We must lean into the one who holds all things in His hands. We must lean into God, as our refuge and strength and trust Him to take our ashes and make them beautiful. To turn our graves into gardens. To turn our wounds into healing. 

So for me, and possibly for you, friend, after all we have walked through these last few weeks, I am looking to Jesus to tip the balance for me. I’m not expecting it to be instantaneous, but through time and recalling what I know about Jesus and who I know Him to be, I am expecting for Him to fully turn my pain into joy, my fear into peace, my anger into love, my anxiety into trust, my guilt into gratitude. 

He will do the same for you, friend. Let Him work. 

   “There is a time for everything,

    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,

    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

    a time to kill and a time to heal,

    a time to tear down and a time to build,

    a time to weep and a time to laugh,

    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

    a time to search and a time to give up,

    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

    a time to tear and a time to mend,

    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

    a time to love and a time to hate,

    a time for war and a time for peace…

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8,11

God, make this beautiful. 

If you have time, take a few minutes to listen to this song and praise God for being the God of the mountains and the valleys. 


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