Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem (image taken June 2014)
Last night in a conversation with my husband, I was talking to him about recognizing a pattern in my life of when I am not in the healthiest of places- something God had been whispering to me about, but I hadn’t called it forth for what it is. In short, I explained how in times of unrest or weariness of circumstance, I start receiving every message life sends me through a screen of, “you are bad.”
Now, I know this is garbage. I am 39 years old; I have walked with Jesus since I was the age my youngest child is now- I have experienced Him as a faithful friend, binder up of hurts, and Savior from my propensity for sin. And yet, when I am in a place of earthly vulnerability, I forget. I forget and I disbelieve.
Then, this morning on the early drive back home from my kids’ school, we talked about this pattern- Jesus and me. I asked for all I knew how to ask for and pulled into the driveway, poured a cup of coffee and opened my morning books. There in part, I read from a devotional the following:
“The problem, sadly, is that many of us live in a constant, or at least a rather regular, state of identity amnesia. We forget who we are, and when we do, we begin to give way to doubt, fear, and timidity. Identity amnesia makes you feel poor when in fact you are rich. It makes you feel foolish when in fact you are in a personal relationship with the One who is wisdom. It makes you feel unable when in fact you have been blessed with strength. It makes you feel alone when in fact, since the Spirit lives inside of you, it is impossible for you to be alone. You feel unloved when in fact, as a child of the Heavenly Father, you have been graced with eternal love. You feel like you don’t measure up when in fact the Savior measured up in your behalf. Identity amnesia sucks the life out of your Christianity in the right here, right now moment in which all of us live.” – Paul David Tripp
I forget and I disbelieve, and in my amnesia of my redemption, I call myself bad and cast off. But God doesn’t name me as such, and beckons me out from behind any skewed screen or filter. He takes my bumbling, sleepy-eyed prayers and hands me back validation and kind correction-
the point where you allow things to go bad is by naming yourself ‘bad.’
I asked my friend for help, and He showed up- almost immediately. And no, my trouble doesn’t just disappear. This pattern of my flesh and mind, I imagine, will aim to surface again and again. But again and again I will pray, talk to Jesus with whatever frail words I can offer and trust He will answer with manna for the day. So often the only manna needed is to know He is with me, my Immanuel. It is the conversation along the broken road that keeps me upright and moving forward. In my surrender and willingness to be real- laid open before God- I am pulled closer into the Cross. And in close, I see clearer all Jesus did for me. In the expanse of my weakness, I come to know His strength more personally, because I see my need in a deeper way. The fullness of this personal truth falls as tears of gratitude across my keyboard.
To be transparent, I started writing a couple of hours ago with one intention – to understand what God was saying to me about my personal situation. And then somewhere around the second paragraph, the whole thing took an unforeseen road. Perhaps, this week leading to Friday- remembering Jesus going to the Cross, and putting to death the bad I keep trying to call myself – are rerouting my words’ purpose. When I pray for divine intentionality with what I write and share, detours have to be expected. Maybe it meets you where you are today, to read how I wrestle and struggle even after more than 30 years of walking with Jesus. Or maybe it does the opposite and you find yourself wanting to look away. I get that. Still, in all humility I hope it’s the former. Inviting you into my mess can never be about idolizing the mess, but rather only done to encourage you to see your own for what it is, and more so to come to know personally your great mess cleaner-upper, Jesus. This is a long pilgrimage we find ourselves on- and the more honest we can be about the travel conditions, the fuller we will experience the nearness of Home. Friend, please hear this: you are counted and chosen and seen. If you have questions about inviting Jesus to walk with you through this life, as he does with me, I would be so happy to talk with you. Please reach out in full confidence that we are fellow sojourners, messy and broken, but called good and redeemed.