One of the hazards of Christianity—or for that matter, any path of spiritual formation—is that we get so focused on change and growth that we forget that we're okay right now. God isn't waiting for us to finally get it all together so he can love us more.
Not long ago, I was helping a friend in do some spiritual work around a snarly job situation that had spawned a snake's nest of resentments. As we talked through her anger at others, her part in it all started coming at her fast and furious: Ego. Pride. Denial. Compromise.
My friend was in tears, disappointed and scared. "How could this have happened when I've been trying so hard?"
There she was, sitting across the table from me, face scrunched with crying. And in that moment, I thought I caught a glimpse of God's compassion for her—how completely precious her sincere struggle was to him.
"Look at you!" I said, sitting back. "Do you see yourself? Look how hard you're trying. Taking hours out of your busy day to do this work—all because you want to grow spiritually and live in God's will and help others. I think you're totally amazing, and so does he. You've never been a more beautiful person than you are right now."
She gazed at me with at least a little doubt.
"No, really," I said, plunging ahead. "God's not waiting for you to finally lick all these things or get it all together. Guess what? That will never happen! This is it. You're doing it. The stumbling forward, falling back, wobbling this way and that—this is life. It's how God made us, and it's okay."
"Oh my God...you're right!" she said finally. She heaved a sigh, and started scribbling notes, trying to capture what I'd just said.
On the way home in the car, I couldn't help wishing someone would say those words to me. I related a little too closely to my friend's situation—where you think you've got some shortcoming licked, only to have it kick your butt again.
An hour later, I opened an email from a reader and saw that she'd included a quote:
"What if it's all okay? What if we're all doing better than we could ever imagine? What if God is pleased with us even on our most ordinary, ego-driven days? What if this is simply what it looks like to be a human being on earth and we should all worry less? What if there's nothing we need to necessarily FIX today? What a shame if we all run around living in FIX-it mode—only to discover that we could have relaxed into God instead and let ourselves be okay with being a bit broken?"
I was halfway through the quote before I realized that I'd recently written these words in Raw—my semi-private blog behind my blog—and then promptly forgot them. Now my reader was quoting them back to me.
Oh, the kindness—and good humor—of God! Clearly, he'd been humming around my heart, giving me words for my friend in advance of her needing them. And now, he wanted to make sure I got the message, too.
I read it again, slowly, and I saw the words ricochet—from God through me to my reader and then back again to lodge in my heart.
I thought you might need to hear them today, too.
P.S. It feels a bit awkward to quote myself to you twice in one blog. But I wonder, do you ever say to someone else what you really need to hear yourself ...and not hear a word of it?