I’m an idolator at the foot of the Altar to My Idealized Vision of Myself.
I’m a Pharisee and this is my Law.
Wrapped up in mostly-truths and mostly-pure motivations for sanctification.
I surely know my identity, but I’ve confused that with knowing who the man I’m supposed to be is.
But I don’t, and I suppose that’s partially what the journey is for. There is no final arrival in this life but a continual process of further arriving.
I’ve made the mistake of believing that accepting who I’ve been, what I’ve done, and who I am means condoning, but it doesn’t.
Acceptance is affirming the reality of what has been and what is, holding it accountable when called for, but also always demonstrating forgiveness and compassion where there is a contrite and penitent heart.
God, this feels awkward, but maybe it will help my several selves coalesce into a peaceful and united resolution for the present and future…
I love you, little six-year-old boy who is relentlessly traumatized by demons in your mind to the point of total despair. Come to me; it’s alright to be afraid. It’s alright to not have the answers; it’s alright to be confused; and, yes, hear it again and again and again and again: there is peace for you. There is peace for you, and there is nothing wrong with you. Yes, there is peace and security.
I love you, little boy, who doesn’t even understand yet that you feel like you’ve lost a dad. That your brother’s marriage has completely changed his time with you. That you’re craving more emotional involvement and time spent with your dad. That you start to think that maybe you can earn whatever is missing inside before you even recognize the lack. Come to me, who is now a father himself – I love you and I am proud of you. A father couldn’t ask for a better son. Let’s go play whatever game you want, because I enjoy just being with you and sharing in your joy.
I love you, prepubescent boy, whose grandmother is dying and has moved into your home and consumed your mother’s attention. I know, I know – you are old enough and smart enough that you understand. But it’s OK that it still hurts. Just because you understand doesn’t mean it shouldn’t. It’s alright. I have time for you. You aren’t awkward. And you don’t need to escape even further into the recesses of your own thoughts and self.
I love you, sixteen-year-old and angst-ridden teenage young man of the 1990s. Hormones are confusing; having a car and driving are liberating; the neuro-chemical wash flooding you and the self-imposed walls you have erected to quarantine yourself are bringing back the old demons in your mind. And I know it hurts – you can’t get any girls to like you, and you don’t realize you’re looking for them to fill the voids in your soul you don’t know are there. Your emotion is raw; your feelings are intense; fueled by desperation in your subconscious. There is peace for you, too.
I love you, eighteen-year-old man who has made the peace of Christ fully your own. You are blessed and full of excitement and zeal, motivated and fully convinced that you can do all things with Christ as your sidekick. You don’t realize that He isn’t meant to be by your side but within you; that He is now in charge; that healing is a long process and you don’t really believe you have anything to heal from. And that desire to fill those voids in you is still so real, so real that when you get the opportunity your pride precipitates your fall. And how your heart shatters into a million pieces. I know: women; trust me, I know. But your world isn’t over; you will be alright; you are not a failure.
I love you, twenty-three-year-old man, who did the best he could to cobble together a shattered heart over five years and devote it back to God. You really did do well; you aren’t to blame for not knowing about deeper levels of Christian healing. You aren’t to blame for being chewed up and spit out by ministry you weren’t fully prepared for. But, yes, you are culpable for your moral failures and for not recognizing that God brought you to the end of yourself to realize how much you need Him, not to try to fill the brokenness with other idols; but there is no condemnation in this because you are forgiven. Your actions have consequences, but you are forgiven. I do love you and respect and admire you despite your flaws. I am glad to have called you myself.
I love you, twenty-six-year-old man and new father. The weight of this life you find yourself living is too much, I know. This isn’t who you were supposed to be and you’re ashamed. Your daughter’s mother has left and you aren’t completely innocent, and you don’t know who you are. You don’t believe me, but it will be alright. You’re finally going to start healing now. Blessed are you because you have decided this is your rock-bottom, and it’s time to admit you need help. I’m proud of you. You are a good man who’s made mistakes, and there’s forgiveness and healing for you.
So here we are, thirty-one-year-old man: me. Right now. How many lifetimes is all that? How many selves? And yet undeniably me. Hard to believe it, but I do love you. I mean, look at you: your entire paradigm for understanding yourself, the world and God has completely shifted toward a paradigm that’s really close to Christ’s. Now, that’s success. Not how you would have defined it for most of your life, but true and lasting success. Yes, you certainly have a long way to go regarding healing, but, then again, I think you’re actually a lot closer to where God wants you to be than you realize.
I accept you. This is who I’ve been and who I am. I’m surprised to say I’m glad for it. I’ve been battered, bruised, broken and confused. And I don’t know what kind of man I’m supposed to be for the Kingdom; just not the ideal I’ve had in my head.
And that’s alright. I’m just a messenger. There’s only one Savior. But I get to be One with Him in the end through the merits of His grace and mercy.