If you are anything like me, your Journey with Jesus goes something like this: a few steps forward, an eternal step backwards…one huge step forward, three tiny steps backwards. At least that’s what experiencing my Achilles Heel feels like as it trips me up on my Journey into God. One moment I am in this deep feeling of connectedness with Jesus and grace saturates me and the world around me…so immersed in God even the emptiness brims over. Then the next moment I’m so steeped in my own ego and pain, screaming and raging all over the place as my past, pain and addictions rear their ugly heads, I can’t even muster a feeble prayer.
Stepping forward, stepping backwards…stepping stones.
And then the anger and self-judgment come rushing in, pouring over the softened stones of God’s grace and then low and behold, I am slipping and sliding all over the place, into a darkness that appears all-consuming. Sometimes, anger is a gift, but only to those who recognize its potential and potency to drop us to our knees seeking God’s ever-present grace. Anger does indeed destroy, and cause destruction; but not all destruction caused by anger is bad (if I need an example then think of almost every single social and political movement that has occurred in the last century…they started out of anger at apathy and injustice).
It is times like this I need to remind myself that emotions are not right or wrong, they are just REAL. Emotions are like the Caboose on the train called Faith: they do not run the train but they are a necessary part of it. If I live my life of faith and grace led by my emotions, well, that is a recipe for utter disaster and insanity. My emotions over my utter humanness and my seemingly perpetual screwing up become a god, an idol that replaces Jesus and his grace.
But these emotions of anger and self-judgment are also incredible opportunities for increased Awareness. And awareness is painful, my friends. There is much peril in reality and our increased awareness is beneficial two-fold: it smashes illusions and delusions and opens us up to God’s grace in ever-deepening ways.The old song says “breaking up is hard to do” but I re-coin that as “WAKING up is hard to do.”
Waking up to reality can be a painful thing. Seeing things, people and situtations for as they are not as we want them to be is a butt-ugly process. But thanks be to God that where pain abounds, God’s grace abounds all the more. Or as I am fond of saying, “where Niles abounds God’s grace abounds all the more.”
Stepping Stones…three steps forwards and one step backwards, one giant leap forward, four small steps backwards. In moments like this I feel like a habit held together by flesh and grace only.
Every time I think I am further along my Journey than I really am, invariably some angel (fallen or otherwise) comes along and distracts me just enough for me to run headlong into a wall.
And as I sit, dazed and confused on the floor, I hear the tender voice of Jesus saying to me (to you) ever so softly: “It is not the falling down that is the ‘sin’, my child; it is in NOT getting back up. Now let Me dust off your knees and off we go!