In recent months, I find myself addicted to the mountain top. I'm worn out, and I'm searching for a weekend retreat...a conference...an anything to reenergize my soul and sift through what is sitting on my heart. I find it once, and I go after it again when the road gets long. Hear me when I say that I find radical value in weekends away, so these words are not intended to diminish the impact and purpose of those times. My husband and I travel to a Weekend to Remember once a year and have committed to do so until the end of our lives on earth. (it. is. awesome). So yes - I love a solid conference to challenge our thinking, dig into difficult topics, and ignite a new level of commitment to a life well lived. What I am saying is that my tendency to reach out for a "weekend fix" is rooted in other matters of my heart and, I believe, symptomatic of a broken world.
I'm knee deep in life, because I don't live it any other way. For a few weeks, I go full out, 100 MPH, and then collapse into a willnotmoveforthreedays mode, which my sister refers to as "sleep camel." In recent months, my faith has taken a similar path. I live with full intensity, unbridled passion, and "all the right words" until my lack of authenticity catches up with me thereby sending me into full on introversion coupled with a hefty dose of guilt and shame. I can't articulate where I sense struggle, and in few places do I feel safe sharing my thoughts (though most know me as radically vulnerable...more often than not, that's a show too). While I thought my multiple-per-week Bible studies and consistent church going were the perfect antibiotic to their loitering tendencies, decade old skeletons have found their way back to my heart.
All of the above was brought to a head this week as the world launched into discussions around depression as a choice or a disease. Anyone who knows me well understands my fury towards those who pretend to comprehend the disease and my sadness for the broken hearted caught up in and pointed at in the dark abyss that is depression. So the questions I find myself asking this week: where is the Church within this battle for our hearts? When was grace forgotten?
In my lifetime, only three church bodies have opened up their doors to receiving and taking on what plagues the lives of its congregation. My first true introduction to radical acceptance through a grace centered life - within a church body - came from Redeemer Presbyterian in Waco, TX during my second week of college. In that body of believers, I found connection, relationship, and authenticity. There was no judgement, no legalism, no effort to achieve favor required...just wholeness, in that very moment, through the work of Christ. My parents' teaching primed my heart to receive that good news, and I am eternally grateful that He laid the path for me to find His grace and relish in it, deep in the heart of Texas. :)
Of my friends who do not attend church because they find no peace within its walls, I ask why. 99% of the time, the responses center on a past memory of a pastor or member of a congregation who ridiculed, shamed, or abandoned the individual. Immediately, he or she associated God's response with those of the people in the church. If we fail, He judges us. If we do wrong, He shames us. If we are honest, He leaves us.
In our humanness, we are broken. From our inability to fully grasp the Trinity, we project our human experiences on a Divine God, and we cannot see the Grace with which He disbands our shadows and paints new light. We condition ourselves with motivation to perform instead of inspiration to create. And we breakdown. We judge those who are hurting. We abandon those in need. We fail one another who ask for love. I do it. Everyday...intentionally, unintentionally. I'm human. I'm broken. I fail. Yet His banner of Grace is wider than my weakness. His mountaintop is sustained. It is not a fleeting emotion of belief but a rooted knowledge that He is there - unmoving, unshaken, and unwavering. He beckons His own, in whatever state we are...wherever we are...we are His.
True Redemption is found only in the sacrifice of our Creator, Who loves deeply enough to give His all, just so He can have you. Let us all remember our worth in Him, so that we can love one another in that same manner in which He loves us....in whatever condition we may be.