Here’s a deep and mysterious thing that is utterly ridiculous… every time I start to do well in anything, I am petrified.
When I was 12, I wrote some essays in to Brio Magazine and was selected as one of 12 (out of thousands) to be a candidate for “Brio Girl.” I should have been proud. But I was so scared I had a melt down. That was the first time I ever went to a counselor.
A cold hand of fear around my heart closes fierce fingers when I begin to succeed. Even if I don’t put words to it in the moment, I find myself reacting to these sneaky thoughts: “They’ll find out you’re a joke.”
The fancy moms in the nice houses who drive the Bob strollers… they’ll know I’m not in their league.
The fit friends who have new running shoes and taught sports bras… they’ll find out I’m a closet geek who journals like a pre-teen.
The serious minded… they’ll laugh behind my back at my paltry attempts at depth.
The light hearted… they’ll roll their eyes at my stuttering humor and droning morass.
The husbands in expensive slacks will spot the marker stains on my old jeans.
The women who lead the world around me will put their finger on it… I’m not quite mature enough to walk beside them.
Why don’t these things come up when I’m in the shadows?
Somehow, when I’m in the lowest of the humble places, pinched small, there is nothing to do but make my peace there. But when I begin to step up toward the light… oh dear God… the light. The problem with light is that it reveals not only strengths but inadequacies.
There you are, Light. Shining on my holes. My lack. My double chin. My big pores. My baby belly. My cheap haircut. My low budget lifestyle. My wild man children. My Goodwill wardrobe. My lack of refinement.
There you are, Light… Shining right through me.
There you are… saying these words straight into me so that they penetrate every cell: “I cherish you. Not the Insta-fab you in the best filter that you falsely wish you were. I love The You In The Light that Reveals It All.”
I think “the Narrow Way” we heard of long ago in Sunday School is a small gate that we have to enter through with our souls in our hands, stooping low in humility. Very low. We have to bend our heads, lay down our finest dreams of perfection, lay down our ambition to be adored by others… What a difficult narrow passage it is. How often I have scrapped and bruised my shoulders on this way as I’ve wrestled with the weight of letting my own pride go. But when we stand up. When we straighten our shoulders. When we raise our heads on the other side of that Bending To The Call Of Light’s Seeing Eyes, look, the way has opened into a great field of expectancy. Because we know very surely that we are loved as we are.
Loved as I am.
Brave with my bruises.
Just as thoroughly effused in hope’s essence in the middle of my Not-Enough as I would be if I had everything.
This is what we call “the Gospel.” The good news. That’s it. That you are So Loved. And whether we describe it with theology (as my Priest does) or with poetry (as I do), it is a narrow, difficult thing to believe. Yet, indeed, it is a beautiful, wide, free way of the heart to be liberated into.