I wonder how many of us practiced social distancing and wearing masks long before it became mandatory. There was a time when I experienced so much shame about my many failures, flaws and shortcomings that I kept friends at a distance. It felt like the safest way to live – even in the church. Perhaps even more so in the church. Rather than setting me free, my understanding of the church kept me in chains.
I had no idea who I was, what I believed, and what I liked. I’d learned early that being conciliatory and charming was an effective way to keep as many people as possible happy. Often, by the end of the day my face hurt from the smile I continually wore. Eventually the mask chafes and cracks. It was becoming difficult to hold it all together and I found myself coming undone – in inconvenient places – crying in libraries, grocery stores, public streets. Try as I did, I could not fix things on my own.
A counsellor suggested I attend Alanon, (any twelve step program is a good place to start). For several years I did the difficult work of examining the events and beliefs that had shaped me. I felt like I might die in the process. Of course, instead, I found life – or life found me.
At Bay You can see through glass. You can see in and out. You can hear through glass. You can live almost normally. No one knows it is there until they try to draw near and are rudely deflected. by its cold hard touch. Everything is safe - just one quick wipe with Windex once a week. Then He ambled by with love so tangible I flung one window wide, blind to His hammer. Love has to touch you.*
Much of the healing in my journey was mediated through my amazing and patient friends who spoke truth lovingly, and prayed powerfully and repeatedly until I finally came to believe that my life had some value. The joy of finding that my life has purpose, that what I have learned, and who I am can bring hope and healing to another struggler is still a precious gift.
The “He” in that poem is Jesus. And the incredible truth is that He died so I might live.
*I struggled with including that line lest it be misunderstood. The Lord has never been anything but loving and gentle with me. But, the walls that shut out life and community had to come down. The church is a body not a building, and connection is a must. Anything less than that is a travesty.