Psalm 85:5-6

Blessed are those whose strength is in You,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
asTea they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Being critical

When I was fourteen years old, I fell in love. That's how I always put it. It wasn't a rational, measuring all the facts decision but just that simple. I fell in love. As I grew up, I learned facts. Some people would say those facts squared with my love, others would say they contradict them completely. My sister and I have had long conversations about this very thing. I am not a fluffy kind of woman. I do not disregard my sister's point of view. She does not disregard mine out of hand either. Still, we do not meet where I find my greatest love. This is a loss for me because I love my sister and would like her to be 'in it with me', so to speak. Nevertheless, I do not love her less for not loving where I love. How could I? She's my sister.

This love I have for her colors how I love most people. I do not love them less for them not 'being in it' with me. Nor, I know, does she love me less for being in something she so completely doesn't believe. We are different. I know a lot of people who do not love where I love. And yet, I love them.

Still, this is a post about MY greatest love. See, this week I was thinking about a person with whom I struggle. I have had a difficult relationship with this man for many years. He is no longer part of our family precisely, but I was thinking about him. His son is my nephew, after all. Anyway, there are legitimate reasons for my struggle, but those are not the fundamental issue. The core issue is my own critical heart. That's the bottom line. I have sometimes felt this heart beating beneath a veneer of kindness I've shellacked across my skin to look better. It's one of my worst sins. My besetting sin, I've called it. That I look at others and instantly react, I hate this about myself. It's not worthy of the one I love. And that's what this post is about.

There are two things I know, one is that Jesus Christ--and He is who I am speaking, of course--wants to change me. When I read the gospels at 14, at 18, 20, 23,24,30,40, ever since and all the years between I knew that what He was about was changing a person from bad to good and good to better. He took away the worst and gave me a better self. That's part of the story of the cross and resurrection. My worst counts but it doesn't last, that's what He's talking about. He isn't interested in me wallowing in my worst, but in changing me into better.

I think about this. First, of course, because I am who I am, I have to wonder: if I'm like this after all these years of knowing and loving Him, how ugly would my self be if I'd never loved Him? What if I'd only had myself to try and get by with? What if I only had to pull myself up by my own boot straps every time I found myself judging others, finding someone ugly (in any old way)? Could I even do it? Or would I simply be an ugly, judgmental, nasty woman at this point? I shudder at that thought. NO, I bend my knees and praise Him, for saving me from that because I come from a line of critical spirits. It's deep and wide, and I am not far from the trunk.

But here's the second thing: I need Him. Every hour, I need Him. No, that's not even it. Let's be clear here. He loves me. Yes, that's the whole story, the unchanging, unflinching, WOW, story, but that story means He changes me. And desires me to give myself to Him so that change can happen. And I do. Just as I look backwards and have seen it, I look ahead and want it. I desire to be insides what I've sometimes veneered on the outside. I confess that I'm not, but ask Him for it. For a single person, and for all.

For me, it's not about judging others who do not believe what I believe but about loving those who are hard to love. I've said this many times, but Christianity has been incredibly harmful in the world. But Jesus Christ? He's never harmful. Sure, he's dangerous, but not harmful.

But that's a post for a different day.

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