We can face the disappointments of life with hope because we know that one day sin, sorrow, and disappointment will be no more. We can repent over our sin and feel freedom because we know Christ became sin for us. We can live without shame because we know God will never leave us or forsake us.
I don’t know about you, but my life hasn’t always turned out like I anticipated. I didn’t experience the bliss of motherhood that the baby shampoo commercials promised. My dream job wasn’t such a dream after all. The house that was supposed to be better than the last turned out to be just as imperfect and broken. And no matter how many how-to books I’ve read, I still struggle in relationships, in my role as a wife and mother, and in organizing my life.
The truth is, life is filled with failed expectations. We pursue dreams only to find that they weren’t what we thought they’d be. Relationships let us down. Our bodies let us down. We let ourselves down. That’s because life is not as it should be. We live in a broken and fallen world where life is disappointing. It often doesn’t “work” or go as planned. We sin and are sinned against.
When life is disappointing, I often ask myself, how should I respond? Do I make lemonade from my challenges and view life from Pollyanna-rimmed glasses, denying the harsh realities of life? Or do I fully taste the sourness of this fallen world and just accept it like it is? Do I demand life work my way, or do I lock myself in my house, fearful of the next disappointment and failure?
Or is there perhaps another way to view life altogether?
In many ways, our lives as Christians are like walking on a slackline.
Have you ever watched a tightrope walker? We once went on a vacation to the mountains of Northern California. While hiking in Yosemite, we came across a group of brave hikers. They hung a slackline across a deep crevasse and walked across it. One misstep and the hiker would fall thousands of feet to the ground below. I couldn’t even watch because just the thought of what they were doing made me nauseous.
Like someone walking across a rope, we live out a holy tension. We are called to live in the world without being of the world. Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins, we are dead to the power of sin, yet not completely free from its presence. We are called to be both dependent on Christ (John 15:5) and to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).
In fact, as long as we live on this earth and until Christ returns, we live in what theologians call the “already/not yet.” We are in an in-between time where life is not one-dimensional. It’s not as simple as making lemonade from the bitter experiences of life. Rather, life is an intertwined experience of joy and pain, tears and laughter, beauty and bitterness.