Sustenance for The Spirit
It’s time for me to confess something. I struggle. I recently had to come to terms with the fact that I struggle with anxiety. It’s in my DNA. I descend from at least two generations of worriers, which is another word for being anxious. I’m saying this because I’ve come to realize that as much as I would like to keep it hidden, most people who are around me for very long probably already know it, and because I’m learning to be more vulnerable. One advantage I can see from our social media culture is an emphasis on being vulnerable to others. It’s not always displayed in an honest format, but the principle of being willing to showcase the fun, be gushingly sweet in a happy anniversary post to a spouse, or share emotional moments like the death of a loved one seems healthy. It’s a bit like confession, except not necessarily about sin.
Finding balance in this realm of vulnerability is challenging. It’s hard to be open and honest to just anyone and everyone, so even though we pretend to be vulnerable, we continue to act within walls of what we feel others are expecting. And, we know that others don’t really want to know all our “stuff,” especially some of our stuff. Yet, if we are to empower others through their struggles, we must be able to reveal our own.
Paul talks about being the worst sinner as he describes the grace he received, in his letter to Timothy: “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy 1:13–15, NIV) Talk about being vulnerable. Paul lays it all out there and it made him an effective minister, especially to the Gentiles who were viewed as the “worst” sinners, that is until the world-wide nature of God’s grace was known through Jesus.
Confession was probably not easy for Paul until he came face to face in a blind fog with that grace he would embrace. It’s not easy for any of us to confess those things we really want to keep in our back pocket. I’m anticipating an upcoming family adventure, and that’s the part I want to tell people, but I’m also very anxious about the travel, the unknown accommodations, the risk with safety and health, just to name a few of the things that keep my mind busy. I’m not sure how much it helps to get it all out on the table, but there is some relief in just getting it off my chest. And yes, lots of prayer is involved too. I think that’s why it’s hard to admit the anxiety, it makes me feel “less than” I should be in faith, that I truly accept God’s control in my life. But, maybe I’m forgetting that His Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. We can’t become strong unless we are weak. (Paul again in 2 Corinthians 12:10) We are imperfect, and thankfully so.
I know a man who builds Cairns around our town. He is a rock climber and several years ago became fascinated with rock balancing, which is what a Cairn is. It’s pretty fascinating how a person can take rocks of various shapes, and balance them, with no adhesive or glue, into arches and other shapes and sculptures. They remind me of the balance needed in life. God continues to be our rock, our foundation, and just as pieces of our lives engage we must allow the balance that only his Holy Spirit can provide within us. What might seem precarious can become secure as more rocks are added and the balance becomes assured. We find strength upon strength. “And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16, RSV)
My hope is that my confession gives you strength today. If you need to confess something, do it. You don’t have to post it somewhere, or even tell a person. God is always there to listen. If you need to talk to someone, pray for that person to enter your life. Just realize that it may not be the person you expect. Being vulnerable means making ourselves open to possibilities that we can’t imagine, but gaining strength we didn’t know existed. I’m learning this more each day. We are truly all in this together, so let’s be vulnerable together, balancing our weakness with God’s grace and mercy. Have a wonderful day!