Lessons From My 20s: Narrow Isn't Small

There remain only 25 days left in my 20s. Before I hit the big 3-0 I am recalling the things I have learned in this decade. Today's lesson: Narrow Isn't Small.

"...narrow the gate that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matt 7:14
I misunderstood this idea for years. It seemed to me that 'narrow' meant small, plain, so tight that nothing big or impressive could get through. You humble yourself so low & make yourself so small that you can squeeze into this tiny opening that is the road on which we journey with God. Having to constantly shave things off in order to stay small enough to continue walking the path.
Shallow breaths and constantly squeezing through tight & confining spaces are the only way to make it. The 'narrow gate' was negative. It was bare bones. No frills. Don't bring your iPad, your red lipstick or a good book. There isn't room for those things. Breadcrumbs and waterbottles only are permitted to accompany you here.
You see, I thought 'narrow' meant small. But it doesn't. It means focused. I have had many seasons in my 20s that have felt incredibly narrow. Moving to Seattle where I knew a total of 6 people (the ones I moved with), months where our paycheck bought the ingredients for peanut butter & jelly sandwiches..and little else. I had two kids. I was on bedrest with the second...narrow, narrow spaces.
These places were by no means small. Not simple or plain. Concentrated. Sharpened. Pointed. Narrow places are seasons where God realigns our hearts. When we squeeze in the narrow gate we are forced to take note of all the things crowding us. There isn't room for fear, insecurity, arrogance, bitterness. When things are tight you become highly aware of what is pushing against you.
That is what comes off in the narrow places. What grows in the narrow places are dreams, calling, depth of revelation regarding who God is, an understanding of the ways God sees me. I begin to focus on the things he has put before me.
The narrow gate doesn't limit me, it releases me. It allows me to grow upwards. To become taller and reach greater heights. I can hear the echo of His voice. The faint cheering from the crowds on the upper ledges. The ones who have gone before.
I have learned that when life feels narrow, my emotions feel sqeezed and my calling seems to harness me in. I don't fight it. I focus and walk into the crack in the Rock. The place He has prepared. I know in the narrow place I will find magnificent things. Not plain & deflating ideas, but dreams more wild than I ever imagined. When the path seems to close around me I pull out a shovel and dig. For there is always more God. There is always more room.
I have learned that narrow isn't small. The narrow gate leads me to a brilliant, big life.