Sometimes we sing a song that says,
Help me to love with open arms like you do,
a love that erases all the lines and sees the truth,
so that when they look in my eyes they would see you,
even in just a smile, they would feel the father’s love.
This is the goal of transformation, to become Christ-like, and to love as God loves.
It reminds me of a story I read in Sue Monk Kidd’s book, When the Heart Waits. She says:
There’s a story about a young man who sought out a wise old man and asked, “What great blunder have you made?” The old man replied, “They called me a Christian, but I did not become Christ.” The seeker was perplexed. “You did not become Christ? Is one supposed to become Christ?” The old man answered, “I kept putting distance between myself and him—by seeking, by praying, by reading. I kept deploring the distance, but I never realized that I was creating it.” “But,” the seeker insisted, “is one supposed to become Christ?” His answer: “No distance.”
When there’s no distance between us and Christ within us, we’re most human, most ourselves. When there’s no distance between us and Christ within us, we’re able to love as God loves. This is why the apostle Paul could say, “I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live, Christ lives in me.” -Gal. 2:20
The Bible speaks of the great mystery of our faith as, “Christ in you, the Hope of glory.” -Col. 1:27.
Did you know that 96% of Americans will knowingly consume extremely hot food or drink that burns their mouth? 96%!!! That means only 4% of us can wait so we don’t harm ourselves. Strangely, this feels pretty accurate.
Most of us hate waiting because we feel like we are not in control. We can choose either to do things our way by escaping waiting on our own terms or we can surrender our will to God and trust Him to give us hope. We can wait poorly or we can wait well.
What does it mean to wait well?
In the Gospels, when important times of transition came for Jesus, he entered spaces of waiting—the wilderness, a garden, the tomb.
Sometimes when followers of Christ enter seasons of waiting, it feels lonely, dark and immensely long. Sometimes it feels like you are losing your faith, but actually this is all a part of the journey of faith. Waiting in the dark is an important part of giving birth to something new. Just think of all the things that incubate in the darkness – caterpillars in the chrysalis, a seed in the dark soil of the earth, or a baby in the dark womb. In the spiritual life, our truest selves incubate in the dark periods of life where we are required to wait. When we wait well – growth and new life are born. Waiting always seems to feel forever long, and often lonely, but it is an important part of the journey of our souls’ formation.
Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. -Psalm 27:14
Waiting is a reality of life. Not even the wealthy and powerful are immune to waiting. We wait in the checkout lines. We wait at the DMV. We wait in the doctor’s office. We wait for time to pass. In all, we spend a very significant part of our lives waiting for something or someone. We all live between the two time periods of yesterday and tomorrow. Yet, we can make our waiting worthwhile or worthless. We can wait well or we can wait poorly.
Often we wait poorly and take matters in our own hands. We act on limited knowledge but think our ways are better than God’s who has unlimited knowledge. Because we do not like waiting, we act before we should. Or if we see that the situation is beyond our ability to act, we simply give up and lose hope. We believe that yesterday is better than tomorrow. In this sense, Holy Saturday becomes one of depression and sorrow rather than of somber expectancy.
The gospel makes the reality of waiting worthwhile. There is a difference between passive waiting and expectant waiting. As God sent the Son “in the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4), He has also picked an appropriate time of His second return (Matthew 24:36). In the midst of Holy Saturday, while we are watching and waiting, God reminds us that waiting on Him is worth it. We can wait on Him knowing that how we live matters in the long run.
God’s love compels us to “be alert and of sober mind” as we wait between the Cross and the Resurrection. Let us not waste our waiting but allow it to redeem us and use it purposefully for God’s glory.
The 13th-century poet and mystic Rumi said, “The wailing of broken hearts is the doorway to
God.” Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" -Matthew 5:4
Sadness can feel overwhelming at times, like a monster that is knocking on the door of our
lives. We fear that if we let the monster in, he might never leave and we will be sad forever. How
can we embrace healthy ways of dealing with sadness? Here are a few reminders we all need
from time to time:
- Allow yourself to be sad. Denying such feelings may force them underground, where
they can do more damage with time. Cry if you feel like it. Notice if you feel relief after
the tears stop.
- Write in a journal, listen to music, spend time with friends or family, and/or draw to
express the emotion of sadness.
- Think about the context of the sad feelings. Are they related to a loss or an unhappy
event? Think about the feelings in a non-judging way and ride the wave of the
- Sadness can result from a change that you didn't expect, or it can signal that you might
need to make changes in your life. Emotions are changing and will come and go.
- Know when sadness turns into depression. Get help if this happens rather than getting
stuck in it.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. -Psalm 34:18
Have you noticed that anxiety is in the air? It exists on a spectrum from nervousness to panic attacks. It will rob your life from you. If we define it, anxiety is the overwhelming feelings of fear, worry & restlessness. The opposite of anxiety is that calm, centered, connected place inside you.
What overwhelms you?
What makes you anxious?
Where do you experience worry, fear and restlessness?
How do you deal with your anxiety?
1 Peter 5:7, is one of the most oft-quoted passages about anxiety: “cast all your anxieties upon the Lord, because he cares for you.” But, this is only half of the whole idea that Peter is trying to communicate. Peter’s command actually comes in the preceding verse – “Humble yourselves” – and verse 7 modifies how we are to humble ourselves, which is by “casting all your anxieties upon the Lord.”
In his book “The Secret to Dealing with Fear and Anxiety,” author Ed Welch says, “This passage has been a secret because we have typically entered it at verse 7, ‘cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.’ But to understand its meaning, you need to start with the preceding verse, ‘Humble yourselves.’ [It’s] the only exhortation in the passage. This is what Peter wants us to hear (and obey). If we jump in at the middle—it makes no sense. We can’t cast our cares on him until we have recognized that he is God and we are his servants who have also been elevated to become his children.”
The verb for “casting” your anxieties is the same one used in Luke 19:35 to describe the disciples “throwing” their cloaks on the donkey that Jesus would ride into Jerusalem. Visualize that image. Casting your anxieties upon the Lord can feel about as silly as throwing your coat on a donkey. And yet, God wants us to do this so that Jesus can carry them into Jerusalem – the city where he would die to free us from their destructive grip.
Suffering is inevitable but how we respond to that suffering is our choice. Pain is a part of life. We cannot escape it. How we face the things in our lives, especially the difficult things, determines the kind of person we become.
When we experience pain and turn to addictions to take away the pain (a drink, smoke, pill, etc) we keep scratching the wound and it is never allowed to heal. It is so easy to judge our feelings and condemn ourselves, but self-condemnation is of no help.
Be kind to yourself. Be gentle with yourself, dear one. Jesus said, “in this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.” Take heart, take courage, do not beat up on yourself for feeling all the things you feel. Christ himself cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Bring your pain to God, He is familiar with suffering, and God is the source of your healing. Both joy and sorrow are inseparable realities on this side of the resurrection. We often want the mountain peaks without the valleys but as Oscar Romero said, “Some things can only be seen through eyes that have cried.”
One of the most beautiful things in life is birth. There is no birth without great pain. Nothing beautiful comes without some suffering. Joy and Sorrow are like two train tracks, often running side by side throughout our lives. When we numb the pain, we numb the joy. The way of life that Jesus invites us to follow him in is the Eucharist way. On the night that the Lord Jesus was betrayed, he gathered with friends at a table and he took the bread, blessed the bread, broke the bread, and gave the bread. Christ himself was taken, blessed, broken and given for the healing of the world. We too are taken, blessed, broken and given. This is the Eucharist way. This is the way of Jesus. May you and I walk this Jesus way together.