This is my morning song.
I’ve lived in a state of correction for most of my life. All performers can understand with me the subconscious cycle of perform, wait to be corrected, perform, wait to be corrected. A well intentioned practice aimed for excellency is harmless in itself, but over time has become so innate in the way I live my life that it has revealed itself as quite sabotaging. Growth - physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally - is a beautiful thing, but as anything is unhealthy in excess, so is the mental process of always wanting to be better.
“What can I do to be a better friend?”
“How could I be more effective in my job?”
“I could have been kinder to them…how should I be more kind?”
All great, reflective questions we should consistently implement into our minds, but not without grace. These type of questions have more often led to shame and anxiety than to peace for me. I had been on a determined path of “being better” while trying to grasp onto the depth of the gospel at the same time. I was a sinner in need of a Savior and a girl who could put on her best outfit and pursue improvement — no two beliefs could clash more.
This way of thinking seeped its way into my relationship with God too. Especially when emotions were involved. When I felt negative emotions - sadness, anxiety, fear - I assumed I was doing something wrong. Something needed to be fixed in myself because the freedom and joy I had in Christ that surpassed any type of circumstance was something I knew well. As I attempted to correct my emotions into what I had thought God wanted me to be I had actually been diving head first into a pool of shame. My misperception of God and overly zealous desire to nitpick myself in the name of improvement had made me distant and empty.
So I gave up.
Something I think God had been wanting me to do for a long time. I have given up the possibility of perfection, the pursuit of improvement and the pride of mustering up my own strength. And it is like I’ve taken that first deep breath in the morning. This is the freedom and peace I’ve known with my mind for so long, yet had never realized I’d been so far from experiencing. I am more sinful than I dare to believe, and more loved than I could ever hope for - and so are you. (Tim Keller)
But as I type this out in past tense, don’t believe for a moment it is a struggle of the past. It is here and now - but it’s in my sight by the grace of God. I can see my tendency to micromanage myself and the way I feel, it doesn’t cling so tightly anymore that I can’t even see it.
This fresh layer freedom feels like the first day in the sun after the long winter. It burns more than I expected. I used to watch the news or hear broken stories with an arms distance away to avoid the feelings of pain I thought were wrong. But now I understand that in pain is compassion, and compassionate is what our Father wants us to become since it is more like Him.
So tonight, I mourn - maybe for the first (real) time ever. I hurt for our world, the people I love and even my own brokenness that will never be “fixed” by my corrections — with no shame.
I mourn. And I join my Father in doing so.
I don’t know where you are, but if you resonate I want to give you permission to say that this world sucks. To let yourself feel angry that bombs exist, sad that people are mean to your sister and disappointed that you get in your own way more often than not. Slapping on hope in a disingenuous manner to avoid pain is like the fig leaves in the Garden - it doesn’t cover up the real problem as much as you think.
God really wants you to come as you are - I know this because he sent his own Son so he could meet you there.
This place of humility and honesty is a gateway to real hope. In our moments of genuine need and hurt we are in the perfect position to cling onto Him. Letting ourselves feel without correction is a pause in which we get to know our Father more deeply, but it is not a stop in which we sit in. His good, sovereign, loving Truth is yours for the taking despite the way you feel or the events are you.
In our mourning, there comes a morning - always.
He is making this world new. He is in control even if it doesn’t look like it. He is growing you, purifying you and in awe of you even when you don’t think so. He is our hope today, always and forever. Hold on tight - this is the freedom we were meant to have all along.
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. || Philippians 2:13
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners || Romans 5:8
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. || Matthew 11:28
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. || Matthew 5:4
He who was seated on the throne as, “I am making everything new!” || Revelation 21:5
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. || Romans 12:2
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. || Proverbs 3:5
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. || Hebrews 13:8
Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame || Genesis 2:25