I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who does this - I don’t really see myself the way other people do. My lack of eyesight mostly finds me with the gavel, passing judgment on my own lack of whatever quality it is that I think I should have or embody. In truth, the gavel is quite heavy and I find myself bringing it down on my own head multiple times a day. What does this look like?
It looks like a complete brushing off of compliments and encouragement from others. Not the sort of compliment like, “Oh my gosh, your hair looks great today” or “I love your shoes” or “You’re just such a joy!” These can seem trite a lot of times. I, for instance, had a good friend tell me other day that I saved his life. Not in the sort of you’re-my-Jesus nonsense. He simply wanted to recognize that our stories had been joined together at just the right time in his life, at the crucial point. What was my response? I made a joke about saving him from crocodiles in the Nile. Super mature.
Which on a side note, the reason we tend to only give trite and flippant compliments about hair and designers jeans may be that most of us make jokes instead of smiling with thankfulness and accepting the grace that God gives us through our friends.
Why exactly did I interject crocodiles? I don’t want to believe my friend. To believe him, because what he says is quite contrary to how I see myself, requires no small amount of courage.
To believe my friend, I must brave the uncomfortable tension of what I believe is true and what I feel. Sure, it’s great when these things are congruent, but so many times they seem off, mutually exclusive even. I know the Lord is good and He cares for me but I don’t feel that He cares all the time. In fact, He feels quite far away a lot of the time. Aloof even.
The whirlwind my life has been the last several months has been a lesson in telling my friends, “I trust you.” Sometimes courage is believing that trusting Jesus means trusting the friends He’s given, the ones He’s woven into your story for times just as these. Trusting that I’m not nearly as lost, alone, hopeless, forgotten, and purposeless as I feel requires a great deal of courage. In that trust is an implicit forsaking of being right, of being independent, of being sufficient on my own. To admit dependence, to admit you don’t understand, necessitates a fortitude only granted by grace.
I’m given opportunities to bring up crocodiles, and the Nile, and all of sorts of other sarcastic retorts on a near weekly basis. Someone who loves me will comment on the out workings of grace in my heart, the secret, silent things I don’t even see happening. The things that take an outside perspective to see. I stand aghast, shocked that those words would ever be uttered. I fight the urge to deflect and make a joke. With courage I tell myself I am not the sole arbiter of reality. In fact, I’m a pretty horrible judge of it. And with courage I tell my friend in hushed, at points weak tones, with raw honesty, “I trust you.”
BIO :: Jerry runs, writes, reads, researches, and seldom rests. He is a graduate of Baylor University, writes to make sense of the world, and has absolutely no idea how to follow the rules or live a routine, predictable life.