This week, I share a brief reflection on the courage it takes to be me.
Whether or not you celebrate Lent (a holiday some Christians mark that leads up to Easter)
there is a "treat" for you near the end.
Many people may not understand the title. At best, they may assume that this phrase says something about the person expressing it (in this case me) and then they may "see" what they want to "see" in the phrase, and then think that that is "what" "I" am "doing." Perhaps something they have secretly been desiring me to be (for them) but not me as who I actually am: a beloved creature, held, nurtured and encouraged to be me fully myself. It is been my experience that someone who is living fully out of themselves is rarely accepted and usually rejected. I can't help but see this in the life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. (This simple comparison could also be applied to Ghandi or Martin Luther King, Jr.) Jesus' life was at odds with those around him because they desired him to be different for their own sake: who they wanted him to be rather than accepting him for who he fully was. I think most people desire me to be different - or you - because it almost always is at odds with someone's wanting which usually comes out of their own wanting. (And if you have followed that so far, I have a clarification: all of this does not mean I am exerting some sort of "freedom" to be whatever I want to be. There is nuance and it all matters in the nuance and where the nuance is located.)
I have only discovered that I can only truly be myself when I dwell in and live out of the Fountain of Life - Jesus Christ. Trust me, this is not an evangelical statement. This takes risk and relinquishment - and I am not trying to "save" anyone. That said, I can't deny that he is a part of me in the same way that my cells are - but he transcends them somehow. I dwell in him and he dwells in me. It is as if I can touch real water inside of me and around me and as if I can breathe in this Water too. In fact, one evening on a retreat almost two years ago, Living Water was inside me gently swaying from one side of my heart to the other side. I was in the middle of prayer and conversation with him and was asking his help to forgive and heal me. There was weight to this water as it washed over a wound the size of a crater. Each time it passed, the crater was less and less, until finally, there was nothing but a memory of having a crater. After all of this, I felt my heart chakra for the first time (previously, I could never feel this one), and I was up until three in the morning because of it! This was none other than God's spirit.
As a child, I tried hard to remember each and every time I welcomed this white-skinned, blue-eyed "Jesus" into my "heart" so that I could finally stop asking him to come in. I finally remembered one morning after church because I think I really strained my memory to remember and because there was a genuine desire; there was no fear mixed into that decision to inquire. We had come home from church one Sunday. I recall seeing my mother's apron and looking up at her as she stirred something in a pot on the stove. I really did want to know him. I heard he would comfort a heart that was sad, lonely, af-FLICT-ed. He would be there when I would be sick even throwing up or having a fever. I was in. Somehow, in my heart of hearts, I always wanted to know him and to walk hand-in-hand with him. And somehow, mysteriously, I have. I am thirty-three now. The same year he was crucified by the religious people of the day. (And personally, I strongly wonder if anything has changed. I wonder if the religious people of the day would recognize Jesus. Here, I am referring to those that claim to follow him.) As I shared at my birthday party a few weeks ago, I usually don't like odd numbered years, but this one, I am intrigued by and desiring to walk even closer with Christ.
Growing older, I feel him in the strangest of ways - sometimes, I am literally inside of my heart with him, walking hand-in-hand through a scary thing - other times, I am in that mystical Fountain - still other times, he gives me courage with his Breath, me symbiotically Breathing in his Breath as I experience the spirit of accusation or rejection. It is awesome!! Truly in the fullest sense of that word. I am able to fully love while being fully Other.
I guess I am learning that when I think I don't have courage, I do. As long as I relinquish my identity and do not believe the subtle lie that tells me my worth is bound up in what others think of me, such as what they desire of me or desire me to be that comes into conflict with who the Creator tells me I am. I have courage as long as I have courage to be me, and for me that is only found in Christ, one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time. Courage that redefines and untangles concepts for me like confusing love with interference and care with control. But, I am less and less confused when I daily relinquish myself to the god I have come to know: Yahweh. (Here, I'd like to acknowledge that I have been using terms without explaining their different relationships, such as "Jesus," "in Christ," "Creator," and "Yahweh" or for that matter, my understanding of who these personal entities are. Perhaps at another time, I will. For now, I will say there is a relational aspect and that it simply is summed up as three-gods-in-one: a Trinitarian godhead that is relational, fully one and fully Other. If this doesn't make sense, think of this godhead as an amazing, engaged, fully individuated Being that loves with perfect love, not out of any woundedness and fully accepts us as we are, even if we choose to ignore him. I don't know any other Love than this!)
In the coming weeks, I will be occasionally sharing little snippets from my readings. For now and because we're in the season of Lent - a period of forty days in the Christian calendar that precedes Easter to mark Jesus' journey in the wilderness - I defer to a lovely audio I came across. For Christians, Jesus is Yahweh embodied. Love and Grace embodied and experienced. Things that are so intimate they are sacred. This audio is 30 minutes long and encourages the heart in its own wilderness and journey.
If you do not celebrate this season, I still recommend listening to the audio. It is insightful and rich and anyone is bound to benefit from it. This talk is given by Julie Canlis, a woman who went to Regent College, my alma mater, and who then went on to study at St. Andrews. We are loved, beloved creatures, held, and encouraged to be fully ourselves which means being courageous in the face of distractions, compulsions, and woundedness. The question is just how this will happen. xo