When I moved from Canada to the UK, I was terrified to drive. Not because it was on the opposite side of the road, or because of roundabouts or traffic signs that were foreign to me, but because roads felt barely wide enough for my one car yet they were all operating as two way streets.
Eventually, I faced my fears, signed up for driving lessons and gingerly took to the streets with my instructor. Did I mention that next to nobody in London has driveways? As a result, cars park on both sides of the street, which only added to my driving claustrophobia. When I expressed my fear to my instructor, she asked me to stop, and she climbed out of the car. She then proceeded to open both car doors to show me that the space wasn’t as tight as I thought. It turns out I had a depth perception problem – my fear relayed one message to my brain, but the facts were quite different.
While the above instance was an issue of literal depth perception, I’ve realised I also struggle with depth perception on a spiritual level.
I didn’t grow up in church, so I feel like I’ve always been playing catch-up in the spiritual depth department. There is so much I still don’t know, and for a long time I had the skewed perception that knowledge deficit determined my spiritual maturity, or lack thereof. I thought that serving and knowledge were the keys to achieving spiritual maturity. Looking back, I now realise that this striving ironically showcased the shallowness of my spiritual understanding, which was evident from my attempts to define growth on my own terms. While there was an undeniable emptiness to this Christian checklist way of living, there was also a safety in the shallowness that appealed to me. I knew what to expect, and didn’t have to face the uncomfortable prospect of letting go of control.
Yet I found myself longing to experience a deeper closeness with God, and simultaneously fearing it. If I released my tight grip, would God be there to meet me? Logically, I knew that he would. His Word says, “…I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20) and “…I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5). But just like with driving, my fear can make me doubt the facts. The depth of vulnerability required for a genuine relationship with someone can feel like a risky chasm that’s too wide to cross. But I’m learning something about depth that’s changing my perception: it’s not arrived at in giant leaps, it’s something that incrementally builds;
– Through each word of Scripture I allow to soak into my soul that cements the certainty of God’s character.
– With each new care that I release to him, rather than cling to.
– Through recognition of the times I allow God space in my life to move, and through the growing pains I experience when I fail at this.
All of these daily decisions revolve around trust. We sell ourselves short if our perception of spiritual depth is measured through the false lenses of comparison to others, or by the merit of our own actions. Spiritual depth isn’t determined by what we do, but is experienced through the extent to which we trust that what Christ did for us was enough.
I’m finding that spiritual depth is less of a destination to be aimed for, and more of a continuous journey as I learn what it means to abide in Christ. Like any relationship, extending this type of trust feels vulnerable, and even awkward at first, but showing up for awkward beginnings is a precursor to familiarity and feeling more at home in someone’s presence.
May we be willing to show up for that awkward beginning.
May we be content to be present as we learn more of God’s character, valuing this getting to know you process one day at a time, rather than feeling the need to rush ahead.
And may we not let fear define our lives, but be rooted in the fact that the depth of God’s grace is sufficient.
Alicia lives in London. She writes at aliciaunger.com, documenting her journey as she learns to let go of perfect and embrace progress, and seeks to
Alicia Unger lives in London. She loves to