Thursday, February 10, 2011
Man, is religion ever a divisive topic. I hesitated even writing this because I knew some people would judge before reading, some would judge without reading at all and some would form opinions about me Ė good and bad, true or untrue- just because I happen to go to church regularly. I truly did not want to wade through that murky stream, but the words in my head just didnít go away- so here I am.
Itís been a rough couple of months for me - no surprise to anyone who has ďmetĒ me through Spark. I am staying on track with my lifestyle goals, but just do not have the energy to do much more than go to work, and then go back to ďworkĒ at home to try to keep the basics of life afloat. This is not unique to me, I know, many of you do the same thing day in and day out. Many of you still have the energy to post and motivate and be active in our crazy on-line world- and I used to too. Anyway, right now I donít and thatís why I have not been around.
But back to the BibleÖ.. (Must you? I hear you questioning.) A couple of weeks ago, the text that was used for the sermon my Minister gave was the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. For those who arenít familiar with it: 10 virgins had to wait for a guest; half of them brought more oil for their lamps then they needed, the other half bought just enough, assuming they knew how much time they had to wait. The guest turned out to be late and the ďfoolishĒ ones had to go home for more oil because they had run out- and then they missed the guestís arrival altogether and were shut out of the celebration. Itís a fairly common text and usually the message is something like ďBe prepared always and live your life mindfully because you never know.Ē And donít get me wrong, that is a good message. However, the minister at our church went a different way that particular morning and I took great comfort from it so I thought I would share.
Basically the way our minister put it is that if we are prepared and mindful all the time, we may only chose to be mindful of the parts of us that we think are the best or most worthy parts. In fact in direct quote:
"Because we could bring with us, carry with us, only what we think weíll need to be in Godís presence. Only what we like best about ourselves. Or what we think God will like best. Or the bits that arenít hurting or scared or uncertain. Only the happy bits, the good memories, the right decisions, the generous actions. We might think those are enough, theyíre all weíll need, theyíll carry us through.
But maybe really being ready means being wise enough to realize that what God wants to see in us Ė in this present moment, or this one, or this one Ė is actually even more than that. The sad bits of ourselves, the hurt places, the not so happy memories that even if theyíre not pleasant they did contribute to making us who we are. Because itís almost like God is saying through this parable Go Big or Go Home Ė The kingdom of God is like this: youíre going to need all of you. Not just some. Because the best part of you that you think is enough? Itís not enough. Because itís the fullness of who you are that I want to meet, says God, whenever we meet. Thatís what really ready means."
And in this same vein and on reflection on the words above I brought the idea forward to the vastly original thought that ďanything can happenĒ in life. Good, bad or indifferent. Things happen, mistakes happen, learning happens. People can be foolish and then wise and then foolish again. It happens. People are imperfect. You are imperfect. Thatís how you were made, and thatís OK.
That sermon that day somehow made me see for a brief moment, and for other moments after when I reflected upon the words, how exceptionally hard on ourselves we can be. And really, how that is not OK. Now I know that isnít ďstop the pressesĒ news. But wouldnít you agree that there is a difference in knowing and KNOWING really deep down in your gut? When I heard the message spoken on that Sunday it was like a weight had been lifted off me (for an oh-so-brief-moment, but it was there!). I think at that moment I KNEW itís not OK to be meanly critical to yourself. Itís not OK to put yourself dead last on the priority list. Itís not OK to think you deserve the worst. Itís not OK to treat yourself worse that you would ever consider treating anyone else. You hear me Spark Nation? Itís NOT OK. Itís especially not OK to feel bad or guilty or stupid if you have done any of the above. Because you know what? I bet we all have at one point or another in our lives.
So since that Sunday I have been idly letting these thoughts and others percolate away in my subconscious. And I think I am ready to start thinking about considering that I just might KNOW that I already have value in my imperfection. Hey, itís a start.