Tuesday, October 16, 2012
The Problem is Myself
I get exposed when I least expect it. Like when I'm sitting in my counselor's office telling her something I think is insightful and instead of nodding her head she comments that what I said sounds judgmental. I'm not a judgmental person. I'm not. I'm just not. No. What? Where the did that come from? Is that me?
God's portable cat scan machine had appeared in the room and instead of showing a thumping, vibrant thing of a heart, I saw something that looked much closer to an early scene in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, a puny, shriveled up balloon heart. Here I am acting like Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby, strutting haughtily across the restaurant, only to realize the back of my gown is missing. It dawned on me in that moment that perhaps the greatest problem in my life is actually me.
This exposure, this realization that what I think is health is actually rotten, throws me into a panic. I want to dive under a table and get myself straightened out before returning to view. I write myself a mental note: Don't be judgmental. Add to that: Plan to never be judgmental ever again. Also: Don't let anyone know you were judgmental. If you absolutely have to, put it in a nice frame so that it looks better. A generic frame that looks expensive. Then shove it in the attic once everyone's gone.
These resolutions help appease me, but the real difficulty is that I didn't realize I was being judgmental until it was too late. How could I have prevented it if I didn't even know I was doing it? My only solution starts to look very Emily Dickinsonish. Utter solitude. I will have to stop talking to other human beings altogether. It seems the only 100% guaranteed way to keep from mucking everything up.
Watch Katherine Hepburn back into a pillar, stuttering and fumbling while the crowd roars. That's me. I don't know if the crowd is roaring, but in my egocentric head it sounds that way. I will tell you that when you work full time in ministry it feels as if the crowd that is watching you is so incredibly large, and everyone is really counting on you to pull through. Keep your slip from showing, act graceful, smile. The places to take cover feel scarce, the answers you feel you must provide are numerous. What if everyone finds out you're just as, if not more so, screwed up as they are?
I have gotten tired. I am so tired of making excuses for myself, of rounding up my reasons, of attempting to fix my image, to hide the holes in my exterior so no one sees how inadequate I am. Lately it feels like all I am is one big gaping hole. I'm not enough. I am starting to own that I never will be. I am owning it, not just giving it lip service because I know I should. Isn't that what most of us do if we're honest? It's almost as if talking about how sinful we are is one of those reliable patches we use to cover our bare parts. It's insurance.
What I want to do more than anything is to stop bumbling. I want to stand up on a chair, lift my arms toward the sky and shout in my ugliness:
"Christ is my righteousness!"
He is! He really is! His righteousness envelops me like a big robe. In it I can go anywhere, I can do anything without constantly checking my behind. I can, if I'll only believe it. This is what he came for, of course. To set us free.
Two nights ago Vivian said from across the room, "I wish our life wasn't like this."
I stopped what I was doing, startled that she was reading my thoughts.
"What makes you say that? Did you hear that somewhere?"
"Tell me what you mean. Why don't you want our life to be this way?"
"Well, sometimes you be's mean, and I be's mean and Daddy be's mean. Why do we be's mean like that? Why don't we just love each other and be nice always?"
I sat her in my lap, stunned. I considered tying it all up for her in some gospel tract bow, but why? She is four and without my telling her she knows we are not the way we are supposed to be. I want to tell her I am twenty-eight and still feel the same way and I'm worried that at forty-eight nothing will have changed. My biggest problem will still be me. And she, like me, wants so very much to have it all right. She hides. She blames. She tries to look pretty.
So what I pray in my heart as I hold her is help us. Not help us do better, but help us believe. Help us cope in faith with these aches we'll always have if we're honest. Help us know we are covered at no cost and we're free. Be our righteousness. Be our peace. Be all the things we can never be. Amen.
"It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set you FREE. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1
Posted by Jamie Laslo at 6:46 PM