“What am I feeling?”
This is the question that tends to spawn journal entry upon journal entry.
My emotions rule my life. You may not see it on the outside. On the outside I am composed. I am calm. I am steady. I am helping those who don’t have a filter to choose to have a filter. Sometimes I AM their filter. This leaves little room for my own expression. Sometimes – most times – it’s a fight with myself to express exactly what I wish to express exactly when I wish to express it. Most of the time I tell myself “no, that’s not appropriate” or “no, that person wouldn’t take that comment very well.”
So, writing creates a safe space. A forum, if you will, for me to voice my most outrageous thoughts to an audience I know won’t criticize, won’t judge, won’t excommunicate me with the civilized world.
Thank God for writing.
For the pen and the paper. For the stroke of the key that makes a tiny black letter appear on this previously blank document.
Writing allows me the space to speak before a jury that has no intention of letting me leave the room feeling defeated. It encourages me. They tell me ‘it’s ok to feel the way you are feeling.’ They tell me ‘we’ll listen.’
The only problem with this is that this silent jury doesn’t exist – well, except for in my head. Some would call that crazy. At least I’m aware that this jury isn’t an actual person – most days that is. Some days they seem very real.
Those days when I choose to voice my opinion and it is overlooked. Those days That I say something to a friend and he chooses not to listen. Or worse, to listen and then decide his own opinion carries more weight. Those are the days I am bruised. Those are the days I have to bend down low next to my pride, pick up her arm, sling it across my shoulder and pull her up and out of the boxing arena. Those days I have to carry my Pride home and put her to bed to recuperate. To gain strength for the next day.
You see, writing, most days feels like a savior. It’s a safe place to voice my frustrations with the world, my disappointments with friends and family, my anger with myself for not living up to my own ridiculous expectations.
But again, writing is not a person. That “safe forum” doesn’t exist. Since it doesn’t exist, I am still stuck with the same problems, soothing my wounds with self-pity and a sympathy to put all others to shame.
The moment after I’ve written an angry entry to my imaginary audience called ‘journal’ and realize I do not feel better, but in fact worse about life is typically the moment I remember my pal named Jesus.
I stop and think, “Oh yeah. You are there. How did I forget?”
Jesus is a watcher. He will not steal the show. He likes to be sought out. He will not compete for our attention. Yes he is jealous for our love, but he does not NEED our love to continue being omniscient and omnipresent. That’s kind of what makes him God. He doesn’t need me. But he does love me. He made me after all.
What a relief.
Yes, He may judge, in a way, but it’s for my good. You see, He does have a high standard. But so does anything of excellence. It’s his nature to separate the good from the bad. It’s my definition of “good” and my definition of “bad” that tend to get in the way.
He actually sees me as good. He has this incredible ability that I still do not understand – this ability to see me separate from my sins. To see ME – my talents, my heart, my desires, my knowledge, my relationships through a lense that is bereft of all the darkness I’ve attached to myself. I can not separate them in my mind – the darkness from myself.
Some days I choose to tell him what’s what and I say, “Look, Jesus. You can’t love me. Not really ME. I am damaged. I am broken. I am sinful. I’ve done so many things…so many bad things. You’re God, after all. You know what I’ve done. So, see? I know you can’t truly love me. After all, you’re the God of the whole frickin’ universe. Don’t you have better things to do than to love me? I think so.”
But what I don’t realize is that this is a slap in the face. To say that this God is incapable of loving me is to slander what he did for me on the cross. To say that the darkness he experienced when he went to the depths, when he stepped into Hell, when he separated himself from HIMSELF, from his FATHER, from the one he’s known intimately since before time BEGAN – TO say that darkness isn’t valid, to say it didn’t really separate my sins from me..to tell Him that I am unclean even though he took on the weight of the world to make sure they would not just be BURRIED with him in his death, but that they would be burnt, incinerated, destroyed. To tell him I am unclean even after I’ve accepted his gift of forgiveness – well, that’s throwing the gift back in his face.
Because that’s what it was – a gift.
Sometimes – most times – I can’t process the fact that I didn’t have to DO anything for this gift. His love for me is a gift. This intense love for me and for you, it’s fierce. It’s lovely and pure. It’s unadulterated love. And I didn’t have to EARN it?
We have to EARN everything in this life. How could I accept something with no strings attached?
And yet, it’s there.
Free for the taking.
I don’t understand it and I don’t know if I ever will. But Jesus is teaching me a little about his love for me and his love for you each day. It’s weird. It’s crazy. Sometimes I think it’s downright dumb. Why would the GOD Of the UNIVERSE do something like that? Especially because he doesn’t NEED me. He doesn’t NEED you.
It baffles me, quite honestly.
But He did it. And what I do know is that Love freely given is hard to come by in this world.
I get it from my parents – that unconditional love. I get it from my sister. I used to get it from my favorite dogs growing up. If I’m lucky, I’ll run into that kind of love from a dear friend. They insist that they still love me when I screw up and I don’t understand it. But somehow I believe them.
And I know that I cannot survive without that kind of love. The human condition consistently demands that we screw up and make a mess of things.
SO I need that love to survive.
You need it.
God knew we would need it and He was way ahead of us.
SO though that silent jury is still there in my mind, I have to remember that at their very nature they are still a jury. They are there to make a decision. And though I like to pretend that they are on my side, I still worry that they are not. I still worry what kind of judgements they are making. I still wonder what they think of me.
When I finally remember Christ, I breathe a sigh of relief.
Why don’t I come to him first? I guess I like to make things harder on myself because I think that’s what I deserve. Accepting forgiveness is never easy because, as you’re well aware, we are all our worst critic.
Again, when I do remember Him, I exhale. He’s such a stark contrast to that silent jury.
Why? Because, though he is silent most of the time as well, He knows me better than that jury ever will. He already knows the details of how I screwed up. He knows it and He says we’re still good. He still loves me. He reminds me gently “Hey, I sort of died for you, and I made you so, duh I know everything about you. I chose to give my life for you BECAUSE of the bad. And because I did, you aren’t the same person anymore. That sin isn’t you. It’s just the residue of living in this stinky old world.” (You got me – those aren’t the red-letter words of Jesus. Just what I imagine he’d say to me.)
It’s then that I wonder why I didn’t come to HIm in the first place. Luckily, there’s grace for that, too.
And let me tell you, it feels SO much better to leave all my doubts, all my frustrations all my anger and grudges, all my disappointments, my need for control with the King of the Universe than to leave them with that silent Jury.
Because the jury is actually me and you – it’s made up of my knowledge of other humans. And what I know of humans is that they are always making up their minds about something. Why wouldn’t it be me?
With Jesus I don’t wonder about the verdict because he plead guilty in my place. He took the price for me. That debt was already paid. So He wants me to take advantage of that freedom.
So, the next time you start to tell your own “silent jury” how awful life is, try to pause and remember that one Guy who already knows exactly how you and the world screwed up and who already promised he’ll love you anyway.
Seems sorta like a no-brainer to me.