Today I had a really helpful conversation. A conversation I desperately needed but didn’t fully realize.
Obviously some part of me knew I needed something, for I was the one who initiated the conversation. But going into it I was thinking to myself: Why am I even doing this? What kind of an answer am I looking for? Am I just wasting his time, my time? After walking in the front door, but before he knew I was there, I almost turned around and left. I almost walked right out, thinking about the excuses I could send over text, how I would be able to avoid him for a couple weeks to let any awkwardness fade… See, but that would have been the easy way out; avoidance is almost always easier. But something that’s been talked about a lot recently is courage.
Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one.
Not fearlessness, but doing despite fear.
So I stayed and poked my head into the room and faced this fear. The fear of reaching out. Of asking questions. Of admitting doubt. Of being vulnerable. The fear of risking being burdensome or being judged.
And the answer was No, it was not a waste of time.
For during that conversation I was reminded of truth. The deeply counter-intuitive truth that I am actually free. No matter how many times I tie my own hands up, lock myself in a box, despise my mixed motives, fail to be all I could be, imprison myself with thoughts of striving, thinking I need to earn my worth… no matter what I do or don’t do, think or don’t think, pray or don’t pray, eat or don’t eat…. no matter if I am the most loving, admirable, courageous person on the planet or a despicable, cowardly worm… I am free.
No height nor depth,¹ excitement nor depression, self-loathing nor prideful arrogance can separate me from my Father and my God. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection I have this freedom. Why did he work in me, softening my heart to believe in Him? I don’t know. What is the role of decision/free will/choice in this faith? I’m not entirely sure. Does this drive me absolutely crazy? Some day, yes. Yes it does. Some days I sit creating scenarios where all of the pieces can fit together in my little finite mind…until I look to the side of my puzzle and realize I left out a few pieces… But nobody except me expects me to have all the answers, to “figure out” the things that scholars and theologians have discussed for centuries. Does that diminish my desire to understand? Nope, unfortunately it does not. However, realizing that I really have been offered freedom, and being reminded that it really is for freedom that he set free² gives me a renewed desire to actually LIVE IN THAT FREEDOM. Knowing that Christ bought me a seat at His table because he loves me, not because he wanted to guilt me into accepting the invitation (hey, look at what I spent on you to get this seat at the table with the King…do you not realize how much this cost me? are you really going to waste my death? those nails were not pain-free ya know.) Knowing that I can say to God, Hey I am struggling right now to actually believe you are good and not manipulative…What do I do with that? Sometimes I am even struggling to believe you exist… Can you help me see what is true? and knowing that this doesn’t disappoint him, this doesn’t cause him to look on my with less love, with frustration. This is MIRACULOUS. His love for me is unchanging.
Do I want to take that for granted? (Good Christian answer: No, no of course not.) Honestly, ya, sometimes I do. Sometimes I want to say, Well grace abounds, right? Nothing I can do to lose my salvation, right? And so sometimes I spend a couple months not reading the Bible. Sometimes I skip church. Sometimes I am pretty rude to God in my prayers, or in my avoidance of him. But the thing is… the thing that I keep realizing over and over and over again… is that while this separation in our relationship doesn’t diminish his love for me or my salvation it really does affect my well-being. I lose my sense of meaning and purpose, connection with community, I get more anxious and depressed, I feel lonely and empty…. Should those things be the reasons why I want to be with Jesus? Is he going to be upset that I am coming to him because I want joy and I know he promises joy? Is he going to look at me and say “I only want you coming to me for ME, not for what I can give you.”? NO WAY! He WANTS me to come to him with those requests! In doing that I am acknowledging my need for my Father. I am acknowledging that He provides.
In another conversation with a friend this evening she mentioned a book that talks about this neediness as a form of love. The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. I haven’t read it, but I think I want to. I want today to be the start of me actually desiring the Lord again. Will it actually be that? Who knows. Do I want that change partly because I miss the joy and meaning I felt those early years of college when Jesus and I were still in our honeymoon phase? Yes. And ya, I still feel guilty for that. But one conversation isn’t going to change years and years of thinking and patterns. I mean, I have been hearing about this grace and freedom since freshmen year of college but here I am still struggling to believe that is true and still struggling to live it out. But if I had it perfect, well, I wouldn’t be human.
To be human is to be broken, flawed, finite, needy.
To be a believer, a follower of Christ, a child of God is to be broken, flawed, finite, needy.
Funny enough, none of those things change…
More processing to come…. as always. haha
Thanks for reading! :)
¹ Romans 8:38-39
² Galatians 5:1