This past weekend I attended a couple of different church services and heard some messages that really hit home for me. They told me that God loves me so much that He considered me to be a treasure of such great worth, that He gave up everything for me (which I’ve heard before, but this time it really stood out) and that God uses the humbling and humiliating moments in my life, to draw me closer in relationship to himself. Not that He orchestrates or plans those things that I’m embarrassed by, but that, like the parent who stands by while their child makes first efforts to do things independently, He is there, patiently waiting for me to do my thing and turn to Him for comfort and guidance, when I fall and get it wrong or to celebrate with me when I get it right. So, God loves me, right here, right now, where I’m and and who I am, not because of me, but because I’m His and He loves me.What am I doing with this knowledge?
I struggle with it, because my sense of self isn’t in God or in what I’ve done right or been successful at. No, my self-identity isn’t about what a good parent, employee, student, co-worker, friend, or object of love I’ve been. Instead it’s about all the flaws, bad choices, hurtful things said and done to me and by me. I have lived in depression and chaos for so long, that relationships with anyone, including myself and God, are very, very difficult and I’m continually aware of my shortcomings in them. I isolate because I don’t want to inflict people I like and care about with the sad, sack Eyeorish person I consider myself to be.So, I don’t draw near to God, as He draws near to me. Instead, I shut down, mentally and emotionally and wind up doing something accidentally that causes me to shut down physically as well. Then I get into these negative thinking cycles of, “What’s the point? Why bother?” and wind up rolling over and playing dead to the circumstances and people in my life.
My adult daughter called me on Sunday morning and told me she missed me and wanted to hang out with me. My first thought was, “Really? Why? I’m in a funk and in conflict with my fiancee (whom I’ve been on/off/on with for almost 16 years). Why would you want to hang out with that?” I didn’t voice those thoughts. But they are almost always the same kind of thoughts that keep me from interacting with and participating with others. I’m in too much pain, I’m too this or too that and it would be a drag on anyone’s spirit to have me around. Blah, blah, blech. I advised her of the conflict, and she basically said, “so what, none of that matters, I want to spend time with you.” Not in so many words, but that was the message.I’m realizing that’s the message God is trying to get through to me. None of my failings, foibles, or objections matter. None of the faults, flaws, or flailing around makes a difference. I am who I am, I’ve done what I’ve done, I’ve been through what I’ve been through and God knows it all and still wants to spend time with me. So, despite my own harsh self-judgment and treatment, I just need to enter His presence. Nothing I can ever do will ever prepare me to be worthy of being in His presence. He makes me worthy, because it’s His desire to hold me and comfort me and shower me with love, mercy and compassion and give me joy and cause to celebrate me and my life instead of mourn and bemoan it.
Life is not an enemy to be fought or a battle to be won. It isn’t a trial or tribulation to be survived. It is a gift to be celebrated and it is my growing desire to be in the presence of the One who has presented me with this life to love.