I’m exhausted, and have virtually no energy remaining to spend on people. It’s hard knowing that not everyone always understands.
But it can’t be my problem that they take it personally. I’m human; I have limitations. People expect me to not be so messy because I’m a Christian. Believe me, I’ve tried and tried and prayed and prayed to be fixed and a better, healthier person. If God wanted me all fixed right now, I would be.
It’s hard to exist in the place I am, seemingly under the constant judgment of other Christians. I worry that that judgment represents God. But hasn’t God wiped out all condemnation? Doesn’t he sympathize with our weaknesses? Doesn’t his perfect love cast out the fear pertaining to punishment?
I am comforted by a quote (especially the last part):
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.Mother Teresa
My favorite part of this quote is not the piece telling us to be strong in adversity or strive to remain true to ourselves, but rather the final portion, which reminds us that God sees our hearts, our souls – the truest things about us. Our externals are just lies – blinders that keep humans from discerning the real us. But God is not deceived. He looks on us and sees His Son. He sees the breath He breathed into us. He looks on us and sees life, light, and love, no matter how dead, dark, and unloving others might conclude that we are. He sees the intentions and desires of our hearts, no matter how poorly we execute them and how heavily we are judged by humanity for that poor execution.
The quality, integrity, and beauty of my life is not measured by others’ assessments – including the assessments of those closest to me. My walk is about my heart before God. It is about the walk and work already completed by Jesus. It is not about my externals. It is not about what I am physically or mentally capable or incapable of doing or demonstrating. My life is not a “cleaned-up mess” show for God, contrary to the teaching of much evangelical Christianity. If my life is a show, it’s a show of my mess and God’s undying love, favor, and compassion. It is a show of His beauty and His love, which always make the loved beautiful, regardless of their messiness. I don’t have a love that big or strong, but He does, and it covers me.
Let me not to the marriage of true mindsWilliam Shakespeare, Sonnet 116: Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.
Many (if not all) Christians have preconceived notions of how “sanctification” looks, or how a God-honoring walk ought to look. But these notions (as most human notions) tend to be short-sighted, unachievable, even oppressive, and often, not even within God’s plan or timing for us.
God seems to be okay with our mess. He isn’t afraid of it like we are. He exists outside of it yet within it. It is all as an illusion or a distant memory to Him – even the messes we have yet to walk in. The only real thing is Him, His light, His love, His truth. And we have His breath within us. We contain the only real thing within. And that is the only true or real thing about us.
We are not these messes in which we swim and live. We are not the suffering we cause others in our own suffering. We are beings of light, encased in a shattering illusion.
Let the illusion break. Let it crumble. Let people see the dissonance between my heart and my externals, because then they will know that the true me – the inner self – is from a different realm. Were I to remain externally “perfect,” they would never see the person within. They would just see a religious person trying to maintain the show and succeeding at it. They would see a self-righteous, unquestioning, dangerously certain individual living life meticulously in fear of some deity.
No. Let them see the mess, and my confidence, joy, and hope in spite of that mess. That is the show the world needs to see.