Learning to Pivot

Over the past month, I have had the joy of visiting with so many friends. We have laughed. We shared our tears and our hearts. Many of these friendships date back decades while some are just a few years young. I am sure that you join me when I say: Where would we be without our posse?

In Abide, we meet a lot of very different women. Interestingly, reading Scripture forces us to read between the lines and infer details based upon what we know about women in real life.

Someone recently asked me who my favorite woman in the New Testament might be. For many of us, the answer comes without any hesitation. Off the top of my head, and before I wrote Abide, I would have immediately said Mary, Jesus’ mother. But, after pondering the many other women who knew Jesus, I gave an answer that surprised her.

Beautiful N.C. waterfall near Grandfather Mountain.

Beautiful N.C. waterfall near Grandfather Mountain.

Choosing is hard.

It is really hard to pick a favorite anything. Settling on one to the exclusion of others makes me think I will hurt someone’s feelings. I can’t pick a favorite ice cream because I don’t like to be limited or pigeonholed. I can’t pick a favorite child because I need them both to take care of me in my old age.

But, if my back was against the wall and I have to pick one woman who was not Mary to be my BFF, I choose Mary Magdalene.

If you had asked me this same question one year ago, my answer would not have been Magdalene. In fact, I would have put her near the bottom of my list of potential friends, just before the widow who pesters the judge and the virgins who did not have oil for their lamps.

Until you spend time with someone learning more about their story it is hard to imagine whether this will be a friendship that will last.

Preparing to write about Mary Magdalene, I had to hunt for her in the New Testament. I was surprised to discover that her reputation did not adequately prepare me for how radically different and independent she was. She appeared more times than I realized and remains the center of biblical scholarly controversy. Not only was she healed, but she traveled with Jesus and His apostles as He went from village to village.

Like so many of us, before she met Jesus, she was a mess, plagued by demons of her past. Following her encounter with Him, she was healed and her life was never the same again. Whatever dreams she had, she abandoned for a life of adventure with Him.

She dropped her plans and followed Him.

Mary Magdalene learned the Art of Pivoting.

She allowed her dreams to change and develop in God’s time. We see this most clearly when she goes to the tomb and finds it empty. While each of the Gospels tells the story in a little different way, Mary goes to the tomb expecting to mourn the loss of her beloved teacher. Because she is an invisible woman, she is able to make it to the tomb as soon as the sun rises on what we now call Easter morning. In two accounts, she comes burdened with spices and oils to tend to Jesus’ body. She is weighed down with grief.

As soon as she discovers that the tomb is empty, she pivots.

She realizes that something big has happened which she does not yet understand and she has to let go of what she thought she was supposed to do. Now is the time for her to step into a bigger role. She takes off running, which must have been difficult in her dress and sandals making me think she was focused on her new mission, not her personal comfort or societies expectations.

In Pivoting, she lets go of her old reality in favor of a new dream. She runs toward change and not away from it. She faces her fear head-on and is now recognized as the Apostle to the Apostles; she becomes the one to whom Jesus first appeared.

Learning to Pivot.

Pivoting is hard in real life. It requires that we be flexible or nimble. We have to be on the lookout for new information which challenges our previously held assumptions and breaks open any stereotypes which we might believe. Pivoting necessitates embracing change and becoming comfortable being uncomfortable.

What circumstance is challenging you to Pivot these days?

What burden do you need to set aside in order to embrace God’s Unfailing Love?