I have been overcome this week by the difference between the way I live and the way I want to live. I listen to stories of friends who have lost their homes due to flood waters, who have lost family members due to disease and war, who have lost love due to sin. I nod, I pray, I say words of comfort - as is befitting someone assigned to this role. I believe all the words I say.
Yet in my life, I am paralyzed by fear over lesser things. My mind is filled with questions and doubts: "Will we have enough? Are they okay? What if I fail? What is next?"
Everyday I watch those who do not make claims of great faith live lives that demonstrate great faith. And I am humbled. I watch those whose lives have given them an emotional kick in the stomach that would leave me broken and huddled in the corner of some dark room, and yet they get up and go on and pour their lives out for others.
I do not doubt the love of God, or my salvation, or my calling, although I understand why folks doubt those things. Instead, I live every day with a sense of nagging disappointment in myself. By this point I thought I would be further along on the journey. I thought the insecurities of my adolescence would be a distant memory by now.
I know that in one sense this is a spiritual issue. There is an Enemy who desires to distract me from the work I am called to do. And I know that if I would only spend less time thinking about myself, and more about the God who loves me, it would be better. I know that.
And I know that God uses broken people to reach broken people.
Lord, forgive me for trying to pretend that I am greater than I really am. Forgive me for twisting and turning and perverting the faith so that it seems okay to hide our true selves from those with whom we are called to live in community. Lord, forgive me for making it seem, in words and actions, that I am anything other than a man still in need of a savior.
Lord, forgive me, a sinner.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
Sometimes I think Mother Teresa had it easy.
Well, not really ... but in one way she did.
As she walked the streets of Calcutta, the pain and suffering were obvious. Dirty, broken, thrown-away people lying in the gutter. They were everywhere, and their bruises and sores were there for all to see.
It is more difficult in many places in America. Yes, there are those people whose pain is readily evident on the outside, if we are willing to go where they are. As one of my favorite songwriters wrote, “Will you go down to the bridge by the river and meet all the folks who call it home.” And if we are looking, we will see the beggars and thrown-away people on our streets.
But most of the hurting, broken people in our society, in our community, keep their bruises hidden. Their pain is not so easy to see. Many surround their lives with enough stuff - houses and cars and toys - to hide who they really are.
So I have just decided to believe - and try to act as if - everyone whom I meet is just as broken and bruised and cut and battered and sad and lonely and hurt and anxious and afraid and in need of love as I feel sometimes. I have decided to see them as they might look if their pain was clearly obvious on the outside. Because if we could see clearly, I believe we would see that the only explanation for all of the weird, strange, irrational, hurtful behaviors we see around us every day is that most of the people we meet are in a great deal of pain.
Lord, help me to see people the way you see them.
Sometimes, I think Mother Teresa had it easy.