Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Refiner's Fire

This will be my final resolution post for the year.
I heard it before I saw it--my serving pieces falling from the display cabinet.

My favorite big bowl. The gravy boat. A serving platter with a small chip in it from carelessly being loaded into the dishwasher on Easter.

All of them were gone.

Much to my (and the unlucky child's) surprise, I wasn't angry. It was an accident, and I let it go.

The fragments of porcelain remained on my kitchen counter for days. I couldn't make myself just throw them away. These were memories--veggie trays, buttermilk syrup, holiday gravy, and endless batches of chocolate chip cookies.

Then, one day, I did just that. Threw them all away. And it was another surprise--painless.

I've come to a conclusion about this refining stuff I've been attempting this year.

For eleven months now, I've tried to force myself into something that just didn't fit. I dutifully wrote about it every month, and each entry explained my frustration at not being able to make this resolution work for me.

Here's the thing.

Refining isn't something that happens on our time. It's not like setting goals to lose weight through exercise and diet. It's not reading scriptures daily or keeping the kitchen clean. Refining is something you become when placed under pressure. It's something you can expect but not something you can entirely prepare for.

Like my reaction to shattered dishes, for example.

Initially, I thought refining was many small things that could be controlled to effect large change. I was wrong. Refining is a process that only comes under pressure--in situations where the only control you have is over your reactions. All year long I was trying to manipulate this process, force the growth. It didn't work. It will never work that way.

In October, I wrote about my lackluster experience with refining and how I was about to surrender to a failed yearly resolution experience. Yeah. That's when the rubber hit the road. November brought it big. Big questions like these:
What is forgiveness? 
Can I do it? 
Can I do it when I don't ever receive an apology? 
Can I forget--the pain, the grudges--all of it?
Do I want to do it? 
What about repentance? 
What do I need to change? 
How do Jesus Christ's grace and Atonement figure into the equation? 
How do I allow them to work for me?

I realized over these past few weeks that refining isn't something I can do exactly, but it's something I have to allow to happen. I have to be willing to give up pride, self-righteousness, hurt--and most importantly, control. Refining doesn't fit in a little box, and after three days--boom, you're refined. Refining is a process that has to be left in God's control.

Grace--God's love working in our lives after all we can do. I can try as hard as I can, but alone, I can never do it.
As with every other refine post for this year, I feel my writing inadequate to express my inner thoughts. I have a feeling as I work through allow this process of grace to work in my life--as I allow it to change me--that I will find myself (dare I say it?) refined. After a year of struggling, of fighting and forcing and expecting and demanding.

Maybe 2014's word of the year will be successful after all, and on 12/31 I will throw away the pieces like I did that day in my kitchen. And in the end, after all I can do, I will see that it wasn't me at all.


  1. Love this, one my all time favs! Its all about the becoming...

  2. LOVE what's in your brain jen. LOOOVE.

  3. So much wisdom here, and your words are more than adequate in expressing it.