I am fasting right now after not having fasted pretty much since I got pregnant with my first child. That was seven years ago.
And yesterday, I was faced with my depths of hideousness and more sin than I think I have ever been aware of in my life.
“If I just would have…it would have been perfect.”
Thoughts rolling through my mind.
Famous last words. Have been all my life.
I am just talented enough to fool everyone (including myself) that if I just gave more time, concentrated a little bit harder, listened a little longer, served a little better, woke up a little earlier, suffered more, exercised more regularly, made that right decision, given more things up, been more disciplined, that I could, in fact, be perfect. As if all those things were in my power and I just chose not to put my power of perfection to work. Its all up to me: the only thing standing in between me and perfection is my own laziness. Well, and other people too. Oh, those people. Without having to deal with them I could be perfect, too.
He fights dirty.
I have believed for way too long that perfection is mine to have. I am a good person. And I am shamed when I fall short. I don’t want to repent, I don’t want to look. I am not bad. I just want to hide so that I don’t have to be exposed.
Turns out I agree with the same lie that the first mother did--that somehow I could have been perfect, all-knowing, anticipating, just like God. When I fail, all I want to do is hide.
What I think I can do is impossible and he has sent me on a never-ending wheel, but spinning around and around again, I exhaust myself.
He’s sneaky: I agree with him and start to drown myself in the river guilt rather than Bethesda-water, thinking if I worked harder I could earn love, approval, and eventually win God’s heart, instead of being convinced that I will always be in need of grace no matter how hard I want to be able to do it on my own. Oh the thought of not having to be dependent. Dependence can’t be a good thing, right?
Pulled further down by shackles of it, I realize he’s winning and I never even fought back.
Then suddenly I see the Father who runs to me, pulls me out, accepts me, cleanses me off and gives me purpose. He’s seeking me out each day, one who gives good gifts to his children. And those gifts are grace. And as we share them with one another and our bodies—his body—is healed. People-salves of hospitality-healing loneliness; vision-eyes that open blinded eyes; hands of mercy sewing hearts broken by unwelcome squatters; pastor-hearts pumping life, sending it far and deep; carpenter-servant’s arms providing for needs; faith-full eye-crutches, giving us strength to step ahead once more.
And I am reminded of my need for others and the elusive striving for perfection. I need his touch.
I didn’t get the perfection gene from my parents. And they didn’t get it from theirs. Not in them.
Peeling off my soiled jeans, I dress again robes of righteousness. I don his yoke of ease guiding me in the next step, armored-all with my offense against lies, clothing myself with gifts of the spirit, passing them out to others; and as I do, He pulls back the veil of sadness and disgrace from my heart. And I receive him again, turning my face to him—falling into grace and forgetting what the blood has washed away. I take the cup and receive.
Deep communion. Community. His healing.
What if the path really could be lighter? Could it really be that easy? You mean I don’t have to do it all by myself?
In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. -Isaiah 30:15