The following is an excerpt from The Tea Shop by Karl Forehand. It’s a featured Speakeasy selection, and there are still limited review copies available for qualified reviewers.
When I go walking, occasionally I will see something that catches my attention. These are not particular things that I look for, rather they’re something out of the ordinary that causes me to want to investigate further. If I am walking, I make a mental note of it and circle back to it later to discover exactly what it is. I really do not have favorite things to look for, I’m just curious about everything. Unfortunately, sometimes it happens while I’m listening to a speech or reading a book or just looking out the window and I have to refocus. That is sort of what happened when I was listening to a lecture by my friend, Dr. Paul Fitzgerald.
He just kind of snuck it into the conversation. I may have heard him say it before, and it sounded sort of familiar, but I had to circle back to learn more about this interesting term. The wording felt good, it sounded like something I wanted; but unfortunately, I forgot about it as soon as my mind chased some other butterfly. Yesterday, I thought about the phrase again, so I asked a couple of my friends and Dr. Paul if they could explain it to me. I talked with my Spiritual Director about it and she seemed like she was familiar with it and helped me unpack it further—she’s good like that. This is what I have come to understand about invincible preciousness.
My friend Peggy was the first to speak up. She explained, “I understand invincible preciousness to be that deep place in us that cannot be sullied by our sin, brokenness, and wounding. We are never at risk of losing our preciousness before God.”
Oh man, isn’t that beautiful? Another friend, Rachel, described invincible preciousness as “coming to terms with God’s constant, loving gaze on me (or in me).” She admits that this initially made her anxious and vulnerable, but now feels warm and loved by the thought of it.
Dr. Paul explained that although we may wander from the love of God, the image and likeness of God in us “is never marred by anything that happens to us…and, we carry a felt sense of the Christ that is in us.”
Richard Rohr tells a story of his colleague, James Finley, who realized these things while dealing with suffering. He states, “It is in the midst of this turning that we discover the qualitatively richer, more vulnerable place is actually the abyss-like, loving presence of God, welling up and giving itself in and as the intimate interiority of our healing journey. When we risk sharing what hurts the most in the presence of someone who will not invade us or abandon us, we unexpectedly come upon within ourselves what Jesus called the pearl of great price: the invincible preciousness of ourselves in our fragility.” Wow, to me, that is significant!
Rohr stresses that when we are vulnerable and share what we think will kill us in one way or another, “…we unexpectedly come upon within ourselves this invincible love that sustains us unexplainably in the midst of the painful situation we are in.” In other words, we feel our invincible preciousness. As we learn to trust the gaze of God, it touches the hurting places and begins to dissolve the hurt until all that is left is love.
Of all places, I found this invincible preciousness in the Tea Shop, even though the people there could not have articulated it any better than I could. It wasn’t necessary for them to understand it to get it! In a gradual way, when I am able to accept love and kindness and respect from others, I am able to recognize what I carry in my body – this felt sense of Christ and our invincible preciousness before God. Dr. Paul also encouraged me to investigate what might be blocking my awareness of this preciousness and give up control so that I might learn to live in the beauty of this truth.
I know what you’re thinking— It’s such a deep thought! But this is one of those things that is worth pursuing. I think the people in the Tea Shop thought it was, they seemed like they had a sense of this preciousness. In this way, I hope I can be more like them – I hope one day I can understand very deeply, like my friends, this invincible preciousness. I did not give much advice in this book, because this was my journey. But, I encourage you to explore this idea of invincible preciousness. Even if you just explore it in solitude, you will be happy you did!
Praise For The Tea Shop
“The Tea Shop takes readers on a journey of discovery that makes a difference!”
—Thomas Jay Oord, Author of God Can’t and The Uncontrolling Love of God
“An intimate portrait of what he learned about the power of listening to wisdom from unexpected sources.”
—Keith Giles, Author of Jesus Undefeated
“In this beautiful book, Karl helps us come into the now, the present moment—to slow down, to experience the experience we find ourselves in…”
—Dr. Glenn Siepert, Host of The “What If Project” Podcast
“The wondering and wandering of Karl’s journey is delightful. He takes a beginner’s mind and shares how he sees the world.”
—Rachel Keck, Spiritual Director and Coach
“If you’re longing to encounter that kind of divine embrace for yourself, set aside your preconceived notions of God and follow Karl into The Tea Shop.”
—Jason Elam, Author and Host of the “Messy Spirituality” Podcast
About the Author
Karl Forehand is a former pastor and author of the award-winning book, Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart. He is the founder of The Desert Sanctuary, a home for spiritual nomads seeking refuge on the journey of deconstruction. He lives in northwest Missouri with his wife, Laura, and dog, Winston.
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