So I was listening to this Jillian Michaels podcast. Her director, Janice, was talking about how she has this image of the perfect home she will someday have, and that keeps her from inviting anyone over to her current home. She was playing all sorts of tapes in her head about people not wanting to come, her house or life not being what it should be. You get the idea.
Well, Jillian was being Jillian, and not letting Janice get away with her excuses. She told her to pick up the phone and to call a friend, on the air, and to invite her over. Janice stalled. She called the sound guy. Jillian told her call a friend now, or stay stuck. But if she really wanted it to be different, then she need to act now. Janice dialed.
It seems like such a silly thing to many of us. But for Janice, I am sure there was something underneath all of this that kept her stuck…or paralyzed so to speak.
The question for today in reading Mark 2 where four friends carried a paralyzed man to Jesus, is where in your life right now are you paralyzed? And who do you trust with your paralysis?
It is hard enough to admit to myself where I am paralyzed and why, let alone to trust someone else with my paralysis. What will they think of me if they really knew this piece of my life? Can I trust them to really want the best for me, to go the distance with me, to help me get to the place of healing even if it means challenging my perceptions and beliefs or forcing me to act outside what feels safe. And even more important, am I willing to consider a life where this paralysis might be healed? What risks are there for me in that?
So I am sitting with these questions. I don”t know if I have good answers to them yet, but what i am realizing as I reflect on my life is I have friends and family who have carried me in the past and believed in me when I wasn’t sure of myself. And perhaps that is a good starting place. To recognize I am not alone on the journey. There are people in my life who care enough about me to go the distance and I can trust that for the next step as well.
Last night, I marked ashes on foreheads with the words, “From dust you came, to dust you shall return. Repent and believe the gospel.” As I looked into people’s eyes, there was this moment. Something spiritual was happening. To be reminded of our mortality, and our finiteness and the ways we had separated ourselves from God, and here was an opportunity to remember our humanness and to return to the heart of God who made us and claims us…to really believe the good news of the gospel, well it was a gift.
Humility is not thinking too much of ourselves. We are not God. The marking of the ash is a gift to put my life in proper perspective. But humility is equally not thinking too little of ourselves. We are created good. We are loved. We are beloved. The good news is for us and not claiming it is also a form of arrogance.
I don’t know about you but my harshest critic is myself. At least I am pretty sure it is because I do know I have some critics out there! But the most difficult and persistent voice is the one in my own head that beats me up for the mistakes I make, or the idiosycrancies of my personality that I wish were different, or how I look at others who are more charming, more sophisticated, more socially adept, more skiiled, more confident (you get the idea) and wish I could be more like them.
Sabbath for me is turning down the volume on that voice. It is tuning into God’s word spoken into my life, and really trusting it is true, more true than any other judging voice in my head about who I am not.. I am God’s beloved with whom God is well pleased. That kind of Sabbath can happen anywhere, anytime. I encourage you, this Lent, to write a statement of who you are, from God’s perspective. Write it down. Repeat it often. Claim your identity in Christ and let that be a Sabbath moment whenever and wherever you need it.
Today, the clergy of the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church are invited to begin a journey together that we are calling Soul Leaders. It is fitting that we begin this journey on Ash Wednesday. Clergy under appointment have received a packet of readings and reflections on a topic related to being Soul Leaders. The theme for February and March is Trust. Each week I will write a blog on one of the reflections, and I invite clergy to add their thoughts, stirrings and responses as they engage in this journey. I am honored and excited to host the conversation and to be on the journey with you.