it gets into you

I went out early the other morning to shovel snow and didn’t put on quite enough to stay warm—needed another layer or two.

I’ve noticed—I’m sure you have too—that on a bitter morning, if you don’t dress appropriately right from the get-go—if you let the chill creep into you before you bundle up, you’re pretty much cold, and you’re pretty much going to be cold. Oh, you’ll eventually warm up, but it will take a good long time—and it will be a miserable, shivering good long time. There’s a bone-chilling consequence to inadequately prepared exposure to the winter elements.

So it’s really not a good idea to step outside with your coat unzipped holding your scarf and mittens—your hat, thinking to put it all on out there, or once you get in the car, or when you’ll be out in it for a longer time. No, you want to get all wrapped up and then be uncomfortably stuffy and warm—feeling inappropriately, conspicuously out of place inside before you ever step foot outside. True?

That’s true at a deeper level too, isn’t it?

If we don’t bundle ourselves in who we want to be as people of faith—how we want to be known as children of God—if we don’t put on love and grace—don’t wrap ourselves in wonder and cultivate the discipline of seeing with joy—if we don’t prioritize respect and practice the habits of prayer and reflection, worship and service—if we don’t claim the story we claim converges into our own, then the decisions we make in the moment, the actions we take in reaction, the things that we say before we think—what we buy and play and read and watch …, it all gets into us. And attitudes and justifications we were not intentional about choosing creep into us and work to shape us, and we’re pretty much going to be someone we don’t want to be. Oh, nothing’s irrevocably set in stone. No one’s absolutely determined by exterior factors. But there’s a soul-chilling consequence to exposure to attitude and behavior counter to who we would be.

So it’s really not a good idea to step out into the world with your faith convictions unnamed, holding onto faith assurances unclaimed thinking you will put it all on when you really need it—once you’re really on the Way—when you’re confronted more consistently by the world and its ways. No, you want to wrap yourself in who you want to be—even when it feels a little stuffy or uncomfortable—even when you feel inappropriately and conspicuously out of place.

For as children of God, we appropriate another world—another story—another way of being, and we seek to appropriate ourselves to that reality rather than any other. True?

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