Sometimes there are moments in your life when you look at the chasms that have been built up and ponder if they may ever be bridged. Maybe it is that relationship that you thought would pan out but has in turn left you void, it could be the heaps of expectation that you shovel onto yourself and yet you never seem to meet up to, at last it could be those feelings of inadequacy and self defeat that creep up on you like a stranger in a dark alley. Our fear of failure, like our fear of the stranger, is that what we have seen from a distance confirms our worst fears and pounces on us and demands from us things that we are so unwilling to give up. Many of us, including myself, have been beaten up and left for dead by our fear of and our experience with failure. It takes from us our beliefs, our confidence, and our will to move and act. It is a paralyzing thing.
Some have grown so accustomed to failure and to insecurity that it distorts reality. At the end of the day, as we retire to sleep, our worst fear is that whatever we may dream and conjure up in our slumber may be more alive than who we are when we are supposedly awake and cognizant. For many of us, our desire to rest is simply to escape the relentless nightmare that is in our lives. There are obviously other ways to deal with this pain. Instead of retreating and finding a good hiding spot, many of us “act” brave, opting to “take on the world” and dare it to give us more. And yet, many of those who choose this path end up hiding too. They hide their vulnerability, tucking it deep beneath themselves never to expose the wounds they carry. The hardest part about this choice is that we often lose what we have hidden. Some end up finding it but after long periods of cessation it has become hardened, decayed, or frozen.
I say these things only because I have experienced it firsthand, and I often have left the battlefield in search of a safe place. I have also stood up, on my trembling feet and taunted my fears to come back and attack me. Both left me bruised and battered, shaken to the core with that awful feeling that only brokenness can create. There are times where I simply sulk into my own lonliness that I never look up to see who may walk by. I fear that what I have to offer is not worth the trouble. I peruse any area that may isolate me from others or even, dare I say it… God. It is a hardening process, and it only makes you more skeptical and cynical the farther you go, in search of that remote real estate that demands nothing of you but in the end takes from you without consent. And yet the God-man still finds me, and tells me that his yoke is easy. Astonishingly, in the same breath that he tells me that his burden is light he states that in order to find life I must lose it. It goes against our creaturely instinct to give up, to let go of what is perceived as comfortable and reliable, our very survival. We so often choose mere survival, not life. Jesus challenges us to live, to take the narrow path of meakness, humility, and sacrifice. It is in dying that we end up living, and living well. The road is just too damn hard at times. I panic, I scurry, I retreat. I rely on survival more often than not. I harden myself to escape my weakness. And then the God man comes again, and he carries a cross with him and transfers it to my shoulders, saying nothing. But it is in the silence that I know he is good. He doesn’t always rely on words, sometimes he just shows up and does something that blows me away. He wants what I cannot and will not give him. My biggest fear is that the people I care about the most will give up on me, and Jesus takes that head on, exposing his own vulnerability and not hiding it, and finds me in the areas that I have retreated to. What I have come to discover is that in his own wounds I feel the courage to devulge my own to him and to others, and that in turn I end up finding a little bit more of the life that I thought I had lost long ago.
I don’t say these things to give you hope. I can’t do that for you, as much as I wish I could. It’s just that I can feel the ice thawing around me, and I feel the vulnerability creeping back and I just want to be known, even in my weakness.
Be in peace