The 7 train was taking forever! Every fiber of my being wanted to blame the MTA for my anticipated tardy church entrance.
Blaming the MTA created a temporary shield from the pummeling of myself for never “getting it together.” I have operated with 24 hour a day cycles for 48 years now. How can I not seem to manage my time? The internal murmurings of self-contempt were all too familiar, as very few times this week have I felt satisfied with my level of “togetherness.”
Stuck somewhere under the East River due to “train traffic” I surmised that church would be a wash at this point. (I would have needed to leave the service early to catch a bus to get to a soon-to-be-nephew’s birthday party.) I felt tired. And grumpy. And distant from God. As the train lurched forward I surrendered to a new plan of sitting in Port Authority with Jesus, a cup of coffee and an honest heart.
Jesus! He. Is. Awesome. I sat with him over a peppermint latte, and began to unravel my wound up and anxious heart. Rather than trying to put my best foot forward in my time with Him, I began to tell him what He already knew:
I can’t do it. I can’t make sure everybody likes me. I can’t stop eating sugar. I can’t focus in my time with him. Facebook seems much easier than facing my fears. I can’t sleep because a wedding is on the calendar and the list of “to do’s” is growing. I can’t change my wandering heart and my apartment is so dirty. I can’t “get it together.” (What is “it” anyway? Who defines “together?”)
In Jesus, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Our Lord “is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” (Psalm 145:8)
Jesus has “it together.” He is keenly aware that we don’t. He moves toward us with infinite compassion and lavish love. This is why He died: that we can come with our wound up and anxious hearts and unravel them at His feet.
One by one the fibers of my heart were laid bare and I surrendered to the One who can handle my life, my propensity to wander, my addictions and my details. My eyes were shifted, if even temporarily, from myself to the One who spoke the world into existence and knit me in my mother’s womb.
He has taken the condemnation that I deserve so that I can have my mind free of the murmurings of self-contempt. This freedom allows me to live boldly, honestly and creatively. I no longer need to self-protect. I can allow space for Jesus to change me.
Fredrick Buechner in his book, “Telling the Truth” writes of Henry Ward Beecher’s process with self-contempt:
So when he stood there looking into the hotel mirror with soap on his face and a razor in his hand, part of what he saw was his own shame and horror, the sight of his own folly, the judgment one can imagine he found even harder to bear than God’s, which was his own judgment on himself, because whereas God is merciful, we are none of us very good at showing mercy on ourselves. (p.2)
What are your murmurings of self-contempt? Is your heart wound up and anxious? Jesus invites you to come boldly to Him to find mercy and grace that you might be free to live and love boldly. Embrace His mercy as your own. Enjoy a cup of coffee with Him today!
At times, the problems of our world can feel overwhelming. Where do we find hope in it all?
Learn how to offer others a share of the grace you have received.
I don’t know how to respond as a white American Christian who is part of the majority culture. I can’t fully understand the pain or the depth of the wounds. But I’m still hurting.
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