About Me

 

 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott

 

I'm a creature of the word, learning to tell my honest story.

I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

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Sunday
Aug192012

Wretched from sun up to sun down

This morning at The Town Church, we sang a song with the refrain "Just as I am," accompanied by a reading from Romans with the reminder that "while I was still weak," Christ died for me.  This truth-that I don't have to BE anything for Jesus to love me, just undoes me. 

"Just as I am" as it stands right now is a hot mess.

All the mechanisms that have kept me going for the last year are breaking down.

I'm like that cartoon where the little duck, or whatever, frantically pedals his car down the road, and as he pedals, metal car pieces keep falling off all around him, until he is left, still furiously pedaling, gripping a steering wheel attached to nothing.

This is how I'm rolling in to Colorado.

God's grace has held my little mechanical vehicle in place. But, as I suspected would happen, moving here has revealed the futility of my death grip on a steering wheel attached to nothing.

I am not, have never been, in control of this car.

 

God's grace has kept me going. But it's not a marathon anymore; and the blur, the one that disguised all the cracks, is slowing down. The fissures in the metal are appearing. 

I am a wreck.

I thought this would happen. I thought the cost of the trauma in the last couple years would reveal itself once life settled down.

I've never felt quite so helplessly messed up before. So fully incapable of holding the pieces together and keeping the machine running.  I've never felt so utterly weak.

I don't have a problem with the widening cracks; I just didn't think they could get this wide.

My problem is that I expect to be doing better than I am. I expect my steering wheel attached to nothing to get me somewhere.

My version of the song "Just as I am," goes like this: "Just as I am, while I work really hard to be worthy of your love." Or maybe it's: "Just as I am, while I strain to keep it all together because it's too humbling to be this needy."

 

I am wretched. 

I am a hot mess.

Anytime I've thought otherwise about myself has just been blissful self-deception.

Self-deception resulting in either pride, for how well I am doing, or frantic striving, to keep up with my own ridiculous standards for myself.

 

What does God ask from me? Does he ask me to keep it all together? To be doing great, even though this year has been so tough? Does he ask me to be full of faith, always trusting, proving I'm still a good Christian because I'm not complaining or doubting or depressed or angry?

He has no standard for love.

He does not hold a bar over my head, judging my worth by how fast I pedal my little car. He knows my pedaling gets me nowhere. He knows my steering wheel is like a baby toy with blinking lights and cranking sounds. 

While I was still weak, he sought me out. "Just as I am," he loves me, the same way he loves his son Jesus.

 

This is the good news of my life. This is my pass to stop pedaling.

It is the thing I long for (I suspect we all long for underneath it all): to be seen for exactly who we are, with all our faults and cracks and crazies, and to still be fully loved. 

God loves him some hot mess Trinity, and he doesn't expect me to clean up my mess before he loves me fully.

He cleans my hot mess. He transforms me.

Not me transforming me- like the frantic scrubbing of Ethan Hawke in the movie Gattaca...did that scene burn itself on anyone else's psyche, or is it just me? Ethan, shivering naked (maybe that's why I remember it so well) on the pebbled shore of the wild ocean, with fistfuls of shells in hand, scraping relentless at his skin, trying to remove any telltale fragment that would give him away for the failure he is, trying to keep up his false identity as a perfect genetic specimen worthy of achieving his dream to go up in space.

The man who strives to be worthy of love "pretends and performs," like the pastor said on Sunday.

It's a heartbreaking movie scene because you can tell the jig is about to be up; the illusion of perfection is crumpling. In another crazy scene, Ethan and his brother (a truly perfect genetic specimen), swim into the ocean on a raging dark night, waiting for one or the other to turn back out of exhaustion. Finally, just when you think someone will drown, Ethan's brother stops swimming, treads water, and says, "You have a heart condition. How are you doing this? How have you done any of this? We have to go back." And Ethan responds, "You wanna know how I did it? I never saved anything for the swim back."

I don't want to live like that.  Saving nothing for the trip back because I can't ever fail.

 

I want permission to fail. I crave permission to fall apart. 

My whole life I've wished to be so obviously messed up that I've had an excuse to stop trying so hard. I've been late, and wished for a minor car accident so I had a reason to get grace. I've wished to be in bed, so sick and incapable of getting up, that for once I had an excuse to do nothing. I've wondered, if I couldn't do anything- take care of the kids, keep the house clean, cook, have sex, keep the machinery of my life chunking along, would my husband stick by me? Would he still love me?

I've put these questions on my hubbins: "if I couldn't do such and such, would you still love me?" Even now, I'm persistent in my questioning: "what if I get so depresesd, I can't function? Will you still love me? What if I really do fall apart? What then?"

And you know what? Despite Michael's "yes, I will still love you," I hear no. I hear that if I got bad enough, I would be abandoned.

 

Because the truth is, it doesn't matter what Michael says.

The questions I am asking can only be answered by God.

"Am I good enough to be loved? What do I need to do to be loved? And if I couldn't do anything, would you still love me?"

And I can see God, smiling down at my death grip on my steering wheel attached to nothing, smiling at my sweaty red face from all my pedaling to nowhere, and he says, "You never had to do anything in the first place for me to love you."

He says, "Yes. Good enough."

"Yes. If you can't do anything."

"Yes. Even if you say No back. Yes, and Yes."

 

It's this ever affirming Yes I long for.

We close the church service singing this refrain, "On thy mercy I rely. Give me Christ, or else I die."

And I think I really would. Someday, heart failure. From pedaling too fast to nowhere.

God's love gives me permission to be a mess. I find this incredibly freeing. To me, this is the good news Jesus brought to the world: I don't have to do or be anything to be loved.

I am wretched. Always have been, always will be. I can stop expending so much energy trying to pretend otherwise.

To me, this is abundant life- permission to stop pedaling. Permission to exit the vehicle, and lie down on the side of the road just to feel the sun soak into my skin. Permission to receive love, instead of earn it. Permission to be me- Miss Hot Mess Colorado, wearing a sash that says, "Broken is beautiful."

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Reader Comments (3)

Read the history behind the hymn Just As I Am. I was blessed to learn it was penned by a woman. Grin. I come broken to be mended. I come wounded to be healed. I come desperate to be rescued. I come empty to be filled. I come guilty to be pardoned by the blood of Christ the Lamb. Here I am, with open arms, praise God, just as I am. :) The gospel sounds good through you, sister. Thank you!

August 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaime

Your hot mess IS beautiful. We all have a steering wheel attached to nothing. And as hard as it is to face this fact, God will use those of us that do face it (even if we are still red-faced and gripping that wheel for dear life) mightily for His good! Love you.

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBriana

Bless you, my friends! Jaime, thank you for your words- my prayer in writing this was to be able to give an answer for the hope that I have, to find a way to explain the gospel in a way that is compelling because I think so much of my life has been spent trying to figure out why the gospel doesn't seem like the great good news that it is- if it is freedom, why do I not walk free? I am figuring out my little freedom walk, and so grateful that I got to walk a bit of it alongside you!

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrinity

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