Realizing that I'm not a pinnacle of righteousness in a fallen world didn't fit well into the 'me against the world' narrative that I carried for many years.
The day, when I was a teenager, that I realized that I hated my dad and that if I was going to follow Jesus, I couldn't continue to do that...was hard.
I wasn't some victim, or some innocent bystander. I was doing something evil.
The day when, as a graduate student in seminary, I realized that my faith had become a façade rather a living relationship with God was also hard. Realizing that I had hiked halfway up a mountain only to discover it was the wrong mountain left me a choice:
Pretend that I was actually doing the right thing and keep going, or head back down and start over again.
But this post isn't about what to do when you discover your mistake, or your fault, or your sin or your wrong perception.
It's about getting to that moment of realization.
I love reading the Psalms. David is always exploding emotionally all over God, and instead of smiting David, or sending a prophet to tell David 'Shut up', God instead describes David as a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).
One of the scariest, and yet most fulfilling, experiences I have in my life of faith is when, in the midst of
anything that I know isn't life giving seems to be filling my head or heart; and instead of trying to shoo those thoughts and feelings out of myself like a man with a weak flashlight in the midst of a rat and roach infested house, I invite God into that place with me.
I becoming willing to see the darkness, the brokeness, the evil within myself rather than try to pretend it doesn't exist.
In those moments, I see the amazing work of the Holy Spirit, who breathes life into areas that were crippled by shame or embarrassment.
I receive healing and forgiveness and strength and life, and those places that were holding me back suddenly become places that are drawing me closer to God.
My emotional life and my spiritual life starts bursting forth with rainbow colors where there was only bland grayness before.
That is the power of being willing to walk about in the walls of your own life in the presence of God.
That is why David was a man after God's own heart. Nothing was off limits to God from David's heart. Well, except in an incident regarding a woman named Bathsheba. David closed God off from those feelings, and it led to multiple deaths (Bathsheeba's husband, and the child conceived by David's adultery).
To David's credit, when he was confronted, he threw wide the gates to his heart and begged God to come back in. (Read Psalm 51 to hear David's turn to God in the aftermath of his sinful choices).
That's the awesomeness of introspection. It doesn't guarantee that you won't mess up. But it means to don't have to stay in a downward spiral until you hit the ground in a fiery explosion.
You don't have to live in a house of rats and roaches, hoping to use your light to keep them off you.
You can take back those places within yourself.
The man who I've been pointing to probably said it best:
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,and lead me along the path of everlasting life." (Psalm 139:23-24)
That which are ignored do not improve.
If we want healthy spirituality and healthy emotions, we will have to summon our courage and open the door to the basement of our lives. Down in that dark, unfamiliar area, we will find the opportunity to apply the grace and mercy that God so freely grants us. And in doing so, can begin to see change in our everyday lives.
May we be brave enough to fight the darkness in our lives rather than to ignore it, or run from it.
35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.