The last one I don't do so often. I say I will. I think towards doing so. But in reality, I think a lot more about praying than actually praying. I think a lot more about being better, kinder, wise, listening, gentleness, awareness, love, than actually being any of those things.
The mental energy I tend to devote to concepts is appalling.
The past few weeks Jesus has been revealing to me the processes I have in place in my life that lead me to sin, not just the sins themselves. The distractions I take on, the platitudes I boast, the running and diversions I frequent, all that preoccupies me from actually healing of my sinfulness and learning to love Jesus better.
This isn't better exemplified than through the conversation I had with someone this morning. Conversation is a euphemism in the case for my actually repenting to her because I'm a jerk. I was a jerk two months ago and today I finally sat down and talked about it. Classy huh?
And what my lack of repentance, my distractions, my platitudes, my diversions and preoccupations have revealed about me is my misdirection to avoid exposure. To self-protect. To forage fig leaves. Because if I can hide from myself, then I can actually hide from God too, or at least I think that's the case. If I never admit that I'm incorrect, then I never need to be corrected. I become the director of my repentance, authority over my change, and god of myself and can just stamp "By the Grace of God" on myself once I've autonomously figured out my shit.
The past weeks and especially four days have shown me is how religious I am. I work the system in my favor. Except the favor is just self-sufficiency. That's my god.
When one friend gently prompted me to consider repentance as an option with my other friend, it was like a tectonic shift in my heart. But the opposite affect. The broken plates actually started shifting back into place. The solution was actually to be broken. To admit defeat and wrongness and selfishness. Placing autonomy on a guillotine is where fresh air permeated.
I spend a lot of time placating myself to avoid having to repent. If I'm not mad/hurt/upset, then hard conversations don't have to happen. So I just seek to never really feel anything bad, and subsequently have missed feeling a lot of good too. On earth, there will always be more joy in healing than there ever is in non-brokenness. Just like how my right relationship with the Father came through blood and death, so does right relationship with my brothers and sisters. Except, it doesn't take physical shedding of blood or a physical death. The cost of right relationships here is exposure to the point of spiritual death. Dying to autonomy. Dying to the hunt for leaves.
Rightfully, C.S. Lewis realized and allegorized this much better than I could in Voyage of the Dawn Treader:
"Then the lion said — but I don't know if it spoke — You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worst than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know — if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place. it hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.
Well he peeled the beastly stuff right off — just as I thought I'd down it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt — and there is was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had bee. Then he caught hold of me — I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as son as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again."
So I find myself today feeling like a "boy" again. Having been stripped and smarted and washed. The exposure was actually what I needed for healing. Letting the wound breathe. Letting the reality of pain and hurt and wrongness cleanse with fresh air. It boils and scabs at first, but coming back to rightness is so refreshingly good. I don't want to forget it.
I pray for the remembrance of my failure and the deliciousness of repentance. I pray this for you too. May we remember healing to be so much better than hiding. May exposure be much more freeing than self-justification. May we rest in the shade of the trees rather than plucking their leaves to hide.