Lately I’ve been finding (and needing) such deep encouragement from friends. A few days ago I posted about an email from one friend and last night I had a really life giving conversation with another friend who was willing to just dive right into my inner mess.
Sometimes I hesitate to post about messy stuff because I don’t want to give the impression that I’m not doing well. One thing my good friend reminded me of on the phone last night was that I am usually more honest than is socially normal. So why would I avoid talking about feeling down?
Partly I’ve been avoiding it because I haven’t had time to understand it and find words that fit. It’s only those who especially love me who are able to sit through the words that don’t fit while I find the ones that do.
This morning I listened to a sermon by Tim Keller, The Wounded Spirit. He uses several verses from the book of Proverbs to talk about the many varied reasons why a person might feel crushed in spirit and what might be done about it.
Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” This well describes what has been going on recently, but there is also much more…
I seem to always be looking for the perfect balance, like a checklist of health. Physical, mental, spiritual, relational. But like juggling 7 things before you’ve learned to juggle 2, I never have all of these things flowing smoothly through my hands. What ends up happening when I try is a mess. I always end up on my face before God just confessing my own inadequacy and need. Surprisingly, this is where joy and peace come.
I do need close friends who have the patience and love to talk things through with me, but I really only need to be holding one thing in my hand (instead of the juggling). That one thing is the reality of who God is. Not believing what God says about himself is the thing our first parents handed down as a legacy and it is, unfortunately a default setting. So when I regularly take time to sit down and remember who He is, I am way more capable of enjoying life. This doesn’t mean that I will do everything right, but it does mean that I can better accept that it’s not about me doing everything right.
Near the end of his message, Keller says, “The only eyes that can see you to the bottom, love you to the skies.”
Why does it matter that God loves me? It matters because I need love like I need air. Not just love. I need to be known for who I really am and loved anyway. If we really sit and think through who we believe ourselves to be, it may seem like an impossible need to meet. Because our inner lives are so out of reach from each other, we fear both that people will not love us when they truly know us, and we fear that others are not what they seem. People change and grow and sometimes deteriorate and regress.
But God? God is not like us. He knows even more about us than we do and still he loves us. He doesn’t change and he invites us to know him.
This matters deeply to me because I am struggling. I’m not juggling well. But I am loved by the one who knows me right down to my messy core. This is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
Keller suggests that getting the reality of the gospel deep down into us is a life-time process, and if that is true then I think I’m right on target. I lay down those things I was trying to juggle and I say, Thank you, God for your love and for your goodness. May I, may we all know you more today.