Monday, March 12, 2012

Again

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

This phrase continues to echo through my mind as I journey through lent.  As I grieve and let go, as I walk away, it is a reminder that I walk toward something, toward Christ, and it is only in Christ that I find my heart's desire.

Because he is my heart's desire

It is amazing how appealing that straight line is, however.  In fact, I have come to think of it this way:

The shortest distance between two points is Denial.

Denial wraps itself around anything that is too painful for our psyche to bear in an effort to make it go away or make it look, you know, like it's not so bad.  What is really true, ironically, is not that something is so bad (all sin is pretty terrible when you get down to it) but that ultimately we are vulnerable.  We are vulnerable to sin and pain and death, regardless as to "how bad" it is.  It robs us of our hope and our joy.  It deteriorates us from the inside out. It isolates us. It kills us.  And we have no control over it.  We can't stop it.  We can't save ourselves.  Further, I think we are incapable of truly facing our own fundamental weakness, our own frailty, our limitations, our failures, and the failures of others.  This is not a judgment; this is a statement of truth.  Only God can give us the strength to face reality, face what is too painful, too confusing, or too hard, and to walk a different path.  Meanwhile, the blanket of denial gently isolates us from God and others and creates a perfect incubation space, all warm and dark, for secrets and sin and death to grow and become even MORE debilitating, MORE painful, ultimately keeping us trapped there - forever.

It's really kind of nasty.

Christ faced something that was too painful for him to bear.  As he cried out in the garden of Gethsemane over the horror that was about to befall him, the horror or pain, sin, and death, he demonstrated what it looks like to turn from denial and to take our human vulnerability to God.

Take this cup from me.

Some of us have prayed our own version of this prayer.

Remove this thorn from my flesh.

Take away this desire.

Heal me.

God's response is pretty consistent.

You must face your vulnerability.  You must turn your life and your will over to me.  I will give you the strength to suffer. And somehow as the truth crucifies you, you will live - with me.

Some of us do not even bother to pray those prayers; we sneak out of Gethsemane while it is still dark or, heck, abandon going to Jerusalem in the first place.  It is too shameful for us to stand naked before God and others, so we slip away and sew fig leaves to cover ourselves, then hide in the overgrowth as if God's light is not going to shine on us there.  Some of us get to the point that we pretend that there is no such thing as naked and that certain things are not sin, all so we can hide from our vulnerability and avoid standing in our shame before God.

Some of us progress to the point of blaming.  "I am not really vulnerable," we say. "It was *insert whatever is really broken and culpable here* (the man, the woman, the serpent, the church, the nation-state, fundamentalism, liberals, whatever)."

Some of us would murder our own brother before we would humble ourselves and face our vulnerability, our failures, our limitations.

And some of us, God help us, would murder ourselves.

But Christ did none of these things.  Instead, he laid the very frailty of his flesh bare before God.

I don't want to face this pain; I don't want to die. But not my will; your will be done.

What pain are we avoiding in our lives?  What death are we running away from?  What is the thing we are saying is "not so bad" in our lives?  And what is the naked frailty we cannot face without the help of God?

3. We turned our lives and our wills over to the care of God as we understood God.


Recently the vulnerability I didn't want to face was that someone I cared about lied to me.  In fact, I was deceived to the point that I ended up, unwittingly, in a very harmful situation.  It was excruciating to face that this had happened to me again, despite my best efforts, despite my agonizing attempts to be vulnerable, to risk, and to follow God and allow him to address my own character defects.  I did nothing wrong and there was nothing I could have done to prevent it.  It took me a month of crying out to God before I finally had what I needed to face the sin and death in my life because of someone else's choice.  And it will take me longer still to fight again that human desire to run away, hide, blame, dismiss, or murder, and I will succeed only with God's help.

This is the nature of vulnerability.  This is the nature of lent.  I will grieve looking for resurrection.  Again.

4 comments:

  1. Here is a little CS Lewis quote. You probably know it already though...
    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

    Keep writing. You have something worth saying:)
    There is a cool Switchfoot song called "Thrive."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fricking amazing song, yo, and fricking amazing quote. Thank you. You win.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In the end, we win:)
    Nice vid too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. If you were to turn on the comment button, people might leave one. Or, maybe everyone is and I am the one who can't?! I dunno...anyways fwiw thanks;)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your thoughts!