These two words are trying to change my life…if only I would let them.
I’m learning that true growth doesn’t happen by rejecting where we were…but by including it into the next season. Or said another way, “step four” is not a rejection of steps 1-3, but the inclusion of all four steps. In fact, you never would have arrived at step four without the gifts of step one, two, and three.
It seems that we face two great temptations: First, to simply believe everything we were taught and never move beyond it. Or second, to realize that we were only taught part of the story, and then completely reject that part of the story in favor of something brand new. But both miss out on the great reality and opportunity of Life.
And so the simple (but incredibly difficult) solution is, in the brilliant Ken Wilber‘s words, to transcend and include. We can’t stay where we’ve been, but we must honor and embrace the journey that has led and will lead us into a new future.
Let’s get really practical: Math. My 7 year old son Henry is currently learning addition and subtraction. To his mind, these are the only ways to engage numbers. But soon he will discover multiplication/division and be presented with three options: (1) Head in the sand: Ignore the new and be content with the math of his youth. (2) Reject the old: Feeling lied to by his addition/subtraction teachers, he could vow to never add again in the name of the revolutionary new multiplication table. (3) Transcend and Include: Bring his addition/subtraction skills into a more powerful way of engaging numbers: multiplication.
Or let’s get a little deeper: Religion. If we’re honest, it can be very easy to critique the tradition we most recently came out of. We can find grace for other traditions and religions, but have nothing good to say about our last church. We left that for good reason…right?!? But what if the church of your childhood (or the community you just left) is the tradition you needed to bring you to the point where you know you need more? In that way it has been an incredible gift that will stay with you forever.
My friend Jeff has been doing some of that work. He recently shared a beautiful reflection on some of the best parts of the Christian tradition he grew up in but has since left: The Plymouth Brethren. (Side note: I grew up in the Plymouth Brethren tradition as well, so this post was especially moving to me.)
These days I’m working really hard to transcend and include in as many ways as possible: faith journey, politics, family patterns, etc. But it’s not easy for me. My kneejerk is “transcend and reject,” which isn’t transcending at all–just rearranging the chairs.
What about you?
It there anything you’ve been rejecting that might need to be re-embraced into your new, bigger story?
How hard would it be for you to make a list of the best parts of your old church? Or the biggest strengths of the political party you no longer align yourself with? Or the best characteristic of a friend you don’t hang with much any more?
May we be people who people who transcend and include.