It seems to be that time of the week again, and I’m trying to make this a regular event. I’m not sure what about this exactly, but it is such a release that I feel maybe in a sense I need to do this. Maybe it’s just how I express myself and I think that’s something we all need to do in one manner or another.
Touching on this idea of being the “new guy” again, I’ve found it easy to use that as an excuse to go into a shell of sorts. I don’t know any of these people well enough to be truly and genuinely open with my soul, so I retreat into the shell of sarcasm. It’s frighteningly easy to do. Several people have made comments about the amount of sarcasm I use in everyday conversation and I used those comments as fuel to own the sarcasm that replaced meaningful conversations and interactions that could have forced me to become more vulnerable with that person than I felt comfortable being in that moment. That’s a pathetic excuse, but it’s what I’ve been using for the better part of the time I’ve been here (OK, the entire time I’ve been here with the exception of a few weaker moments of truth haha). Why?
Isn’t the point of community and getting to know other people to become vulnerable with one another? Am I not/aren’t we all just dying to be known and to know others? Why then, do I seek so badly to retard this process? The fact is, relationships, like everyone’s story that I mentioned before, are messy! People experience pain, feelings get hurt and hearts get trampled. This sounds terrible, but in the end the overwhelming truth is that our hearts are kept intact throughout this apparent abuse. My heart over these few, albeit short, years on this earth has never actually been literally broken. God has always been there in my darkest hours of pain and suffering and held together my fragile heart. He has always comforted me when I needed it most and assured me that everything would be alright. Moreover, I have always been better for the wear. It almost seems like God uses heartache as a means of drawing us to Him and allowing Him to give us His best when He then has our full attention.
Heartache, like everything else in this world, can indeed be used by this amazing God for greater good. To me this is mind blowing and elementary at the same time. Honestly, the fact that God can use unpleasantry to achieve His purposes is both astonishing and just goes to show my very limited image of Him. The fact that He’s done this over and over in my life also makes it seem mundane and I take this fact for granted. How did I get to allowing this person or situation to affect me so deeply? It’s because I took the time to let myself be vulnerable and capable of being hurt by the circumstances. I had the faith to do so then, but how come I cannot muster it now? What has changed?
The only answer I have to all this is that I trust God less, obviously. Without relationships, real and ugly at times, I limit myself on how I experience God’s love and grace in my life. God very tangibly works through friends and relationships. By my avoiding depth of relationship, I deny myself and these others the love and grace of God that can be exemplified, not to mention the fulfillment we feel in satisfying the need to know and be known. I am essentially saying, “God, I don’t trust You. You’re lying to me and I’m not going to give You the chance to prove me wrong.” Yet, He still finds ways of doing so even despite my best efforts.
This sort of leads me into thinking how little I really walk in the Spirit. To clarify, I mean the process of cognitively giving over my fleshly limitations and shortcomings as a man and actively seeking God’s will to act and think like His Son, Jesus Christ. My overuse of sarcasm is a glaring example of how I don’t walk in the Spirit oftentimes. This not walking in the Spirit occurs in the worst of times. I don’t really mean worst; I think most trivial would be more accurate. I am around a group of solid Christians in most of these situations. People who would not hurt a fly (in a lot of cases), yet I fear for my eternal life when it comes to the people. Baffling, isn’t it?
There are so many great things said in the Bible about walking in the Spirit. Not that I’m endorsing drunkenness, but Paul relates being filled with the Spirit to being drunk. I doubt he’s referring to a sloppy drunk slurring their words and stumbling over their own shadow. I think he’s saying that walking in the Spirit really enables us to most be the person we want to be deep down inside; the person we were intended and created to be. We are, when filled with the Spirit, like our own Tyler Durden, free in every way imaginable. I mean free not as to promote licentiousness, but as uninhibited. We are enabled to move beyond our own limitations and insecurities and rely on the strengthening only provided by the Holy Spirit.
Why on earth would I not want to become Superman? That’s pretty much the image I get of the Spirit-filled life. Sure, you’re not flying around in blue and red spandex, but you are far more capable than your Clark Kent self without the Spirit. I think that’s really cool having grown up watching Superman cartoons. Cheesy. Where is my hangup on living out the desire to both serve the God I claim to love and do something with my life that carries significance?
I don’t know if I have the energy or ability to flesh this out completely, but I look back to John Piper’s breakdown of Philippians 1:21–25 in Don’t Waste Your Life. I believe it is because I do not value God in the way He deserves to be valued. In other words, I have idols that I have placed in my life above God. I worship other gods and idolize them in a way the can never satisfy or fulfill. Lord, I trust in You, but help my unbelief. I can identify with the father who said this to Christ. I do believe that He is more valuable than any gift or thing I can receive in this life, but I find it extremely hard to believe this to the point of living it out every second of every minute of every day.
I think that’s part of the point of this life here on earth. I’m not meant to get it all, but someday I will. I’m incapable and ignorant, but I am loved and valued as if I were flawless. Oh, the way I know God loves me, is so great that I lack the faculties to begin to understand. His love for this broken sinner is like He, infinite.