“if you loved me you’d let me die…”
I went with a reluctant, heavy expectation to the Maundy Thursday service. My child’s words ringing in my ears.
My need was great.
It hit me, sitting there. I was in the middle of the Community of God, but felt utterly alone. And it was all my fault. For I have built up these mammoth walls around myself, so high that I sat there,
Alone, Weeping in the middle of the Community of Believers. Some in the crowd of hundreds I know, though most were strangers, I had no idea where my friends were sitting. I sat alone.
I fled as they began the Eucharist. I was still in the pain of just moments ago, dealing again with the rivers of sorrow carved into my soul over the last year, it was all catching up with me.
How difficult it has been, and that raw emotion was sitting close, heavy, the madness of my child’s mental health situation, an invisible dagger in a wound that I walk around with these days.
Then suddenly Old Regrets began replaying, again and again in my head—my sin and guilt, my humiliation. I have made so many mistakes.
Even after almost five years of sobriety I still haven’t forgiven myself for becoming a drunk in the first place. I am
clearly not willing to receive the freedom of grace and forgiveness for being sober today. That would take a level of courage and humility that I don’t have, at least not yet.
I am clearly still unwilling to admit how little control I have over my life’s circumstances. Sitting there, facing the courageous, loving sacrifice of Jesus, I couldn’t bear it. I fled.
I sat down in the darkened hallway entrance in-between the lobby and the sanctuary hiding from the Holy One, now I was really crying and embarrassed at my lack of composure. When just as suddenly it occurred to me – Jesus experienced every human pain—even mine, even my child’s. (And much much worse.)
And I cannot run from Jesus because no matter how far I flee, he’s there beside me in this moment of anguish.
I have learned.
Listening to your places of pain as a believer in Christ is both mystical and sacred—attending to the Soul’s Ache. It cultivates the depth of understanding that can only come when we slow down and feel. Although last night I was running away, in general lately, I’ve been listening hard, in good ways … And what I hear, finally has been a discovery seen through my photographs …
for a long time I’ve been on the inside looking out at life.
This has built up an inner turmoil that requires sorting and reconciling and answering this question: Where does all my fear come from?
I’m not petty but I get insecure, Still, I feel sincere joy at others’ success, and friendships, and connections.
All my life, I have felt alone.
I just don’t think I deserve that sort of thing: a Community who is Free To Love One Another; it’s too beautiful, too holy, and too wonderful to experience the hospitality and community of people. It’s a blessing I’ve never felt worthy of, and I have my bag full of excuses and reasons: I’m too broken and useless, unwanted, undesirable, and therefore, I deserve to be alone.
Even here. Even now in this Holy Place on Maundy Thursday with hundreds of people around.
And worst of all, I cannot sort out if I made this happen, this Place of Lonesomeness. But I think I did.
Henri Nouwen expressed so often in his writing and often lamenting:
Even as we need solitude—I know I crave it, seek it, relish it, because it is where I listen for the Spirit and learn—when I finally poke my head back up into the world (go on Facebook or something) I realize that the world went on and people have enjoyed one another suddenly I feel rejected. And Alone. And the heartache and feelings of rejection that come are unbearable at times.
Sitting there last night physically alone but in the presence of hundreds of Christ followers, knowing the Saints of Old are there too, with Jesus, surrounding us.
—I laid the last six months down. Months of being wrapped up in caring for both a sick child and my aging mother. Months of fear over lack of solutions. Still knowing we don’t have them.
— I laid down my recurring depression which feels like my personal screw-up, a failure I cannot conquer.
— I laid down the isolation and loneliness that comes from shame and fear of rejection by others.
—I remembered all the good people that have reached out to us, asked how they can help and faced my confusion over not knowing what to say. How many times I said, “thank you but no, we’re managing.”
—I accepted that I don’t know how to receive from others, whether it is because I don’t feel like I deserve it I wonder? That just might be true.
Jesus’ mandate of Maundy Thursday is a challenge to us to love as we have been loved BY HIM. Last night, shattered and broken, flooded with all my regrets, I just sat by him and knew, I don’t have to have the answers.
I don’t know how to let people love me.
In Hebrews it says, along with Faith, one must believe that God rewards those who seek him. (11:4-6).
I’ve had enough looking out of windows, watching others live joyfully and only dreaming of entering into Community while refusing to risk, fearful of the messiness and imperfections of humans.
Jesus said: Love one another ya’ll! That is so hard to do when you’re on the inside looking out. When you’re so afraid of being hurt that you continuously push people away.
I heard him, there, Jesus said to me:
Stop turning away. Love as you are loved, enter into hospitality, healing, wholeness and love—this sort of devotion is made up of my compassion and hope! There’s no fear when you are abiding in me.
If we allow it, the power of fear dominate us. What others think of us, fear of failure, fear of intimacy, fear of God, fear of ourselves and what we might actually do for him, even fear of success.
As Nouwen said, “All our thoughts and actions proceed from a hidden wellspring of fear … but we were loved, before we were born we were declared BELOVED, and that should make us Unafraid.”
We can walk through the world Free To Love One Another.
—May it be so, friends, I pray.