They Lean on Me

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe thing that terrifies me most these days is the people who lean on me, the people who look up to me. Yesterday someone told me “… it’s good to have someone to look up to!! I hope I can become as close to Him [God] as you are!…You still are one of the most down to earth people I know, and talking to you is so refreshing because I’m so used to going to school and being inside the thoughts of all the teens there and the drama and I talk to you and it kind of reminds me of reality and what really matters.” That’s one of the highest compliments I’ve ever been paid.

I write it here, ironically, so it’ll keep, and I won’t lose it in the ever knotted threads of cyberspace as time moves on. I guess things move a little slower in this corner of the world wide web than most. Sometimes I go back through the archives and read… I see how far I’ve come and where I’ve regressed and where I’ve grown. WordPress told me today that my blog is three years old, and I can’t believe it’s been that long–I’m so different now than I was then. But I digress. Everyone has their own journey. I just fear to be put on a pedestal, especially now when I’m at my lowest. God is the one we should be glorifying. But it isn’t always easy to keep our focus on the unseen. I get that. I’ve had my share of older Christian girls who’ve been role models to me as the years have passed.

Today someone told me “You’re the only thing keeping me alive…you know that right? If I didn’t have you to talk to I woulda been dead a long time ago… You’re the only reason I have to live. To get to talk to you every day.” As if yesterday’s compliment wasn’t scary enough.  Again, it amazes me how much people still feel that I help them even when I am at my most broken, and again I realize that he’s putting me in a position that should be reserved for God. But he doesn’t believe. He often refers to my beliefs as my “cult”, despite the fact that we debate that occasionally.

I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t ask for this responsibility. Somehow, for some reason that I do not understand in the slightest, it has fallen on me. And you know something? Many, many, many times I have failed. People let me in and I sear their broken, tender hearts with fire, albeit unintentionally. It doesn’t matter if that was my intention for a crime that brutal– the damage is unforgivable. I strive to help and to heal and to soothe. I strive to love and to carry this weight well.  But I fail. I fail because I wasn’t made for this.

This is God’s job. That, I acknowledge, despite the fact that God and I are on some interesting footing at the moment. But what am I to do? Aside from pointing to my Creator and trying to allow Him to minister His healing through me? I won’t turn the people away. So there is nothing to do but move forward. I hurt for every person I have hurt. If I could go back…but I don’t know what I should have done differently. I tried my hardest and it wasn’t enough. The past is gone, though it’s effects linger on. The future lies before me. God only knows how many more precious hearts I will hurt and heal before I’m laid to rest. I pray that I help more than hurt. I pray that even the hurt ones know that I cared and loved with my everything. I don’t ask them to forgive me.

 

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Categories: My Life, Ponderings | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “They Lean on Me

  1. “That, I acknowledge, despite the fact that God and I are on some interesting footing at the moment” I hear you 😉 So well put.

    I read these posts, make a mental note to come back and leave a comment when I have a little more time–and then time gets away from me. So this is a bit tardy.

    I realize that you wrote this post with emotion, and certain things said may have been meant more with the expression of hyperbole than literalism. That said, sometimes what we dress up in hyperbole betrays more than we mean too. You said of things you’ve done, “the damage is unforgivable.” I know you well enough to know that you would admit that in Christ Jesus no sin, no failure, no wound is beyond forgiveness. But perhaps that needs to be said aloud as a reminder to your heart. Whatever you’ve done, Veronicah, it is forgiven in Jesus.

    What you say about the “unforgivable” reminds me of things about myself.

    In the depths of my struggle, I have not wanted to forgive God. Yes, God never does wrong and needs no forgiveness, but somewhere I realized that chanting those truths about God was just a way to be dishonest about what I was feeling. And the truth is for all that we talk about the choices people have, and that their choices have consequences, in times of deep pain in my life it has felt that such talk is everyone ignoring the elephant in the room: the fact that God as much as people has choices too. And, even if with our mouths we say that what happened to someone was the result of choices they made (ourself or others) there is still that tiny part of me that knows God is not some helpless being up in the sky. God could have done something different to keep the horrible painful outcome from happening–a vision in the sky, a dream at night, an appearing angel–there are lots of things God could do to stop a bad thing from happening. And, in fact, if I had been God I would certainly have done something different to keep the horrible thing from happening! And so, with angry trembling finger I point at God and said, “I don’t like the choices you made, God. In fact, I think they were the wrong choices. And I am not ready to forgive you!” And so likewise, if I was not ready to forgive God, I certainly was not ready to forgive myself for my parts and my failures. God was altogether too forgiving.

    Now of course I didn’t exactly think those things because I am well enough taught in the truth of scripture to be shocked by the hersey of it all, to question God’s choices. But there came a point where I realized that in my pain and grief I was emotionally doing just that–I was questioning God–and that trying to hide from myself by simply repeating Biblical truths was not really addressing the struggle.

    This is no panacea, but I realized that it was spiritually far more healthy for me to come to God in prayer not just simply mouthing the truths that I knew were true, but being a little more messily honest. That is, speaking to God and saying in essence, “God, I know these are the true things you have said about yourself, but that’s not what I’m feeling right now. That’s not what it looks like right now. God, what I am feeling right now is anger at you. What I am feeling is hurt. What I am feeling is that you’ve fallen short and I’m alone and abandoned” Or whatever I was feeling most strongly at that particular time. Point being, I realized I was hiding from myself by simply repeating truths about God–and that I needed to be true to God about myself too. And God was big enough to take my heresy of being mad at Him and questioning in my heart the goodness of what he had done.

    Until we can come to peace with God we will have no true peace with ourselves. I think an insidious problem is when we pretend we have no issue with God and think the lack of peace with ourselves is the only issue. But the lack of forgiving oneself always, I think, comes back to some kind of issue with God first.

    I have the weakness of abstracting the truth about God as intellectual facts that, in practice, are far from my life. I can talk about the forgiveness of God–and yet live as though it were not true. I can speak about the forgiveness of God–and not forgive myself. This is an continuing struggle for me. I can step back and see how absurd it is–I say God is most holy and just and declare that he has forgiven me, and then I turn around and don’t forgive myself. Am I claiming to have better standards than God that I wouldn’t forgive myself? (The reality is that such shows how little I understand about love.)

    This post of yours makes me think you are struggling with the same. With your mouth you can readily confess that God has forgiven your every fault and failure, and that he is holy, good and just. But in your heart you have not forgiven yourself, and you carry that weight against yourself. You carry burdens against youself, and against God. God might forgive you those failures, but you never will. You can’t let that weight go.

    It is a weight. I have felt that weight, and how it weighs down. There is almost a mania in the unwillingness to let it go. It is as if the heart says, “If I let go, if I forgive myself, then it is as if I am saying my failure wasn’t important, or that the hurt done wasn’t important–and it was! My failure was important, people were hurt–and so I will never forgive myself because I will never pretend it wasn’t important! How I hurt people, how I failed, is always important.”

    That line of thinking (even when not uttered so clearly in thoughts to oneself) has a strong appeal. Even right now, being in a better frame of mind, it still has an appeal to me. But the truth anyone in that place needs to grasp–not only intellectually but experentially–is that forgiveness does not deny the importance of what happened, or what we have done. To truly forgive ourselves in Christ is not to “brush off” what we have done, but to recognize the greatness of what God has done in Christ.

    I have shared the song “Through Your Eyes” before, but the song has such meaning to me, enough to bring me to tears, is that in those darkest and hardest times I realize that what I need so desperately is to see myself through the eyes of God. It is only when we see ourselves, only when we see the world, through the eyes of God can we have peace.

    ****thought break****

    I have also experienced the types of compliments you mention, and they make me uncomfortable in the same way. On one end of the spectrum I try to recognize that some people are just trying to say, “You’ve been a blessing in my life. Thanks.” –and that I don’t need to get all uptight when people are just clumsily expressing thanks for the blessings God has given them through me. However, on the other end of the spectrum I realize there are the people who are rebelling against Jesus and perhaps find me a more comfortable companion than Jesus. Then I am concerned that instead of pointing certain people to Jesus they have found me to be a good substitute instead of Jesus and that instead of pointing them toward Jesus and driving them to Jesus, I have become for them a comfortable substitute for Jesus. After all, when they have me and my comforts and advice why would they really feel need for Jesus? They should, but I’ve given the reason to be comfortable where they are.

    Which is why the “I’d be dead without you” comments make me uncomfortable when they are tossed in my lap. Often those people have no personal knowledge of Jesus and those kind of statements make me want to metaphorically grab the person by the throat and say, “With me you are dead. I can’t save you from anything. I can’t deliver you from your problems. And if you are expecting me to carry you through–you will fall. You will die. You won’t make it. Because the only one who can rescue you, who can see you through, is Jesus. If you’re depending on me, you’re doomed. You can only depend on Jesus.”

    I haven’t literally done that, but a few times I have offended people when I rebuked their adulation. they asked (in essence) “Why don’t you like my praise? You should be glad I am clinging to you and need you so much.” Since they have no relationship with Jesus that can’t understand how the attitude and need for a person (instead of Jesus) they express is so dangerous to their own spiritual well-being, and mine as well.

    Sometimes I wonder if God lets disaster come because I succomb to that temptation. I see people and I do let the little lie in my thoughts that “without me they would fail” and then I think I must be the one to keep them from failing. Instead of resting in the truth that only God can save them (and only perhaps God will use me as his vessel) I instead act as if I can be a subtitute for Jesus. When I start running around trying to play “substitute Jesus” then God allows such “help” from me to end in disaster so that I will learn yet again that I’m not a Jesus substitute. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus, not the one who helps instead of Jesus. There is a difference.

    So much of this particular issue comes back to where the hearts and minds of people are at–both or own and those we are interacting with. It’s tough to navigate such situations.

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