No More Buts

Sometimes when I am counseling someone who is having a hard time seeing beyond their struggle at the moment, I will ask them to describe what it would look like if they were able to get everything they wanted.  

I'll say, "Tell me what it would look like if you got what you wanted out of your relationship."  Or I'll ask them, "Can you describe what your ideal future would look like?"  

My only goal is to get them to focus--even for a moment--on a hope-filled tomorrow, and then to reframe where they are now with this new vision.  

I want them to begin to see their current circumstances with fresh eyes and to realize that God will meet them right where they are in order to lead them where God wants them to go.  

Nine times out of ten the person will get a faraway look in their eyes.  They will first ponder my suggestion and then relate to me what their future could be if they were able to overcome their challenges, fight through their struggles and get to the other side of whatever is keeping them stuck. 

Then, nine times out of ten, the person will pause at the end of their hoped-for description with the following word:  "But..."  

The word "but" is powerfully telling in those moments.  In this context, the word "but" serves only to quench the fire of the Spirit that would burn within us if only we would fan those flames with hope and joy.  

Author and pastor Adele Ahlberg Calhoun wrote extensively about how so many of us get stuck in a negative feedback loop because we throw up barriers and obstacles to the working of the Spirit in our lives.  She writes: 
Transformation and healing always begins with cooperating with God where you are--not where you think you should be... but where you are now.  
I often say that God loves us right where we are, but God loves us far too much to stay... right where we are.  This is a powerful lesson to internalize, but one that far too many of us dismiss because we keep putting "buts" at the end of our sentences. 

May you catch a glimpse of the future that God has in store for you--a future that should bring you unbridled hope.  And may you use that vision to see yourself and your circumstances as completely redeemable by a loving God, who wants nothing but the very best for you. 

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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