SEARCHING FOR DEPTH
Sacred NEXT Stories #2
The fabric of every community is its peoples and their shared story. How people come to the NEXT community, what they discover here and how they are transformed is a sacred story.
We are delighted to be sharing just a few of these sacred stories with you.
[The first story we shared, was of a courageous young woman searching for life. You can read her story here.]
What follows is the sacred story of one of our students who came to NEXT searching for depth…
Before I came to NEXT I was a simple man. A man with good intentions and right actions, but never engaged enough to meet the possibility of pain, vulnerability and conflict. I thought the main reason I came to NEXT was to gain direction around my career choice. However, I soon discovered that my faith and beliefs had only ever come from others and I hadn’t questioned, wrestled with or discovered what I believed for myself.
When questions of faith arose within me, I often reconciled them by saying to myself ‘why do we have to think so much? Can’t we just read it in the bible, accept it and believe it?’ I might have been dedicated and devoted, but to exactly what I did not fully understand. I was highly unaware of the wider world, creation, beauty, current affairs and other issues. I lacked the depth to fully appreciate and engage what is important, like my relationships with family and friends and ultimately with God, a depth I ultimately found through a year at NEXT.
My thinking and feelings have developed in their complexity, as has my ability to perceive and feel deeply beyond the superficial surfaces I was once so comfortable and complacent in.
At NEXT I have grown so much! I have struggled with questions and weaknesses that I didn’t even know I had. I have frequently felt overwhelmed and incapable to confront these questions and weaknesses, however I know they have been significant and important for me to take seriously and excavate layer by layer. My thought processes and emotions have developed in their complexity, as has my ability to perceive and feel deeply beyond the superficial surfaces I was once so comfortable and complacent in. Through intentional and direct study of theology, the bible and spiritual practices I can now perceive different perspectives and layers to issues, concepts, questions, challenges and relationships where I could not and did not before.
One of the turning points at NEXT for me, was coming to value silence and time alone. I’ve discovered that silence is not threatening, awkward or strange but it gives me time to stop, reflect and to inhabit parts of myself that are not instantly accessible. In these times I discovered that there is more to any one thing or person than I currently understand or am able to comprehend. I have grown to appreciate the depth and worth of people and what it means to live differently because of this. I believe that everyone I meet, regardless of their background, opinions, denominations or beliefs has the potential to speak to who I am and add value to who I am going to be. I actually believe this.
My career choices were once a source of anxiety and stress but I have since become much more content. I have a peace about the future – a real peace – and despite the many unavoidable challenges it is sure to present I know I can endure and continue to grow through them as I have at NEXT. I have gained the resources to live a full life in deep places.
I was thrown in the deep end and was initially shocked, but now I purposefully choose to live there.
As I approach the end of my first year at NEXT I thank God for revealing himself in a way that has also revealed more who I am to myself . I have a deep love and value for community and understand it as being absolutely vital for anyone to live life beneath the froth and foam of cultural, religious, relational or doctrinal expectations that seem to litter the surface of our lives. To live deeply is to share thoughts, feelings and experiences with others as we learn to see more of God and more of ourselves – this has been one of the main things I have loved about this year at NEXT.
The people I have journeyed with into the mysterious fathoms below the surface of life are what have anchored me and keep me in these newfound deep places. Together we are intentionally sinking to new depths of relationship, belief, faith, hope, love and joy. We are no longer people of faith who can be thrown and tossed about like plastic toy boats when doubts and questions come, we are not content to idly drift with tides of culture, narcissism and mediocrity, our faith is being made of weighty substance that holds calmly in stillness and dwells deeply in God.
I don’t know where I’d be and who I’d be without community and fellow people to love and be loved by. I was thrown in the deep end and was initially shocked, but now I purposefully choose to live there.
One of the great privileges of being part of the NEXT community is being able to witness people taking these next steps on their sacred journey and being able to walk beside them.
For those of you seeking more of life, seeking to discover life in lost and forgotten places, afraid of asking questions or reaching the boundaries of a Christianity that has become to small … we would love to journey with you too.
NEXT Open Night
THURSDAY 15TH OCTOBER 2015, 7PM
NEXT Open Night is your opportunity to find out what you need to know : what is NEXT, how does it work, and whether it is a good fit for you.
Check out: next.asn.au/open