Two Faces of Wonder


Two Faces of Wonder


If you haven’t yet seen the movie, Wonder, I recommend it. It’s a story of pain, fear and shame just as much as it is a tale of triumph, unity and glory. Mostly, it’s a declaration. It declares that love is stronger than hate, that kindness will always be the better way, and what makes us different is the secret to our beauty. What lies in plain sight rarely tells the whole story.

Even before viewing the film, the word Wonder had been rolling around in my brain. At a workshop I attended, the facilitator asked participants to choose a word for 2018 as a focus for our lives. Wonder was my choice.

I’ve spent much of my life wondering. Wondering if I was good enough. Wondering if I would make it. Wondering what would happen. Wondering why I did this or that. All that wondering was self-focused, underscoring my limitations and insecurities. It compelled me to over-think, hesitate, and press for certainty before advancing. The fruit harvested from this effort? Paralysis and fear.

But that’s not why I chose Wonder as my word for the new year. I chose it because of its grander meaning.

Wonder, as a disposition, is liberating. Instead of wondering if, or when, or why, we can wonder at, be in wonder of and feel wonder. This is usually the posture of a child. And this is the posture I am pursuing.

Children inherently recognize their vulnerability and need for protection. When they feel safe, they also know how to have fun. They marvel at almost everything. Adults don’t.

So, when I stop wondering about my circumstances and wonder at my Creator, hope resurges. When Ilift my eyes from ceaseless effort to marvel at a sunset, my soul is renewed. When fear about the future, or doubt about the present threaten to thrust me into despair, I can cross the threshold of wonder and enter the doorway of awe.

If we weren’t urged to do this in scripture this effort could, at best, be construed as escapism. At worst, irresponsibility. But in heavenly terms, it’s called faith. Pure, unadulterated courage.

When my heart is encouraged to wonder at God’s infinite nature, my soul learns to rest in His sovereignty. If I’m in awe of His majesty, I will gratefully surrender my impossible burden for His perfect peace.

When we choose wonder, God exchanges our weakness, our limitations, our disfigurement and offers us, in exchange, His great treasure and beauty. Somehow, in our childlikeness, He then makes us a wonder before the heavenly hosts as we place our hope in Him.

That’s why Wonder, the movie, was so good. The protagonist was considered a wonder not because of his attributes, but because he was so brave. His childlike courage inspired multitudes.

During a walk on the beach today, as I intentionally opted to wonder at God’s creativity and beauty instead of wondering about a struggle our family faces, I saw the footprints of a little child interspersed with those of adults’. I felt the Spirit nudge my soul.

“Be like that child. Remember, although you must be a responsible adult, your greatest joy and strength will come as you become more and more childlike before me. Delight in Me and I will give you the desires of your heart.”

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
–Isaiah 26:3


Tamara Carpenter is part of Newsong’s Board. You can read more of her writing on her blog: