Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Greatest Barrier

Whenever something bad happens, there’s a part of me that thinks I had it coming.

God is punishing you, I’ll tell myself. God is coming after you for all the bad things you’ve done.

It’s crazy, it’s unhealthy, and yet I still do it.

I’m just getting over another bout with chronic fatigue and, as usual, I made matters worse by getting angry and believing that I had somehow brought this illness upon myself.

You’re so arrogant about staying in shape, I scolded myself, that’s why you’re getting sick.

It’s a dark kind of ego trip, where I believe the Creator of the Universe is gunning for me—like He doesn’t have enough to do already. It’s all about me—as long as it’s bad news.

I got so upset last week that at one particularly low point I sent a desperate plea up to the Almighty.

“Whatever I did,” I said, “I’m sorry.”

Blind apologies usually don’t make much sense or have much value, but then I wasn’t thinking very clearly.

Just a few days later I was listening to a web cast of a service at Trinity Church. Rev. Canon Anne Mallonee was preaching that day and she talked about finding a message written on a welcome card in one of the pews.

“Listen,” she told the congregation. “Listen with the ears of your heart, not just your mind.”

And so I listened as Rev. Mallonee read two simple sentences and my heart nearly cracked in two.

Please don’t let me lose my job,” the message said. “I’m sorry for what I did.

Sending Out An S-O-S…

That’s all. No name, no explanation. It was an anonymous cry for help, like the survivor of a shipwreck putting a message into a bottle and hurling it into the sea.

I have no idea who this person was, but I instantly recognized the mindset, the frantic, illogical belief that connects our misdeeds—real or imagined--to our misfortune.

I would like to know what this person did—or, more importantly, what he or she thinks they did that was so terrible. I know from personal experience that we often believe we’ve committed the most heinous deeds only to find that the rest of the world doesn't see it that way.

I don’t know why bad things happen in this life, but I refuse to believe that they are some kind of divine retribution.

I don’t see God as a heavenly accountant, moving our lives around like beads on a universal abacus, determined to make sure everything adds up.

But fear can conjure up all kinds of irrational beliefs. It's just easier to spot them in other people rather than in ourselves.

After reading the card to the congregation, Rev. Mallonee spoke directly to the author of the message.

“Whoever you are,” she said, “blessed are you for you admit your failure. Blessed are you for you are free from the greatest barrier that humans put up between us and God’s mercy…human pride.”

She added “if you keep this attitude of total supplication and openness, God will bring you through it.”

I hope this person doesn't lose his or her job. And I truly hope he or she comes to terms with whatever they supposedly did.

If you can somehow make up for it, then do so as quickly as possible. If you can’t, then believe you have been forgiven and climb over this barrier.

I’ll see you in church.


Ron said...

" Blessed are you for you are free from the greatest barrier that human’s put up between us and God’s mercy…human pride.”

Exactly, Rob!

I truly believe that WE are our own worst enemies and that we inflict so much guilty on ourselves sometimes, that we make whatever we feel we did that was wrong, worse.

And I also truly believe that GOD never punishes us, but rather WE punish ourselves.

Yes, we may do something that is not good, however, we know it.

So perhaps it's more about forgiving ourselves, than God forgiving us.

Because He does.

And we are loved.

Wonderful post, buddy! As always!

Have a terrific week!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron!

Great point about forgiving ourselves. So many of us run around convinced we're so terrible.

We torture ourselves for no reason and we need to forgive ourselves.

Take care, buddy!

Bijoux said...

I like what you said about the dark ego true!!!

I believe bad things happen because we live in an imperfect world, but fortunately, God promises better things to come to those who put their trust in Him. Have a blessed day, Rob.

Rob K said...

Oh, thank you so much, Bijoux!

People often try to make rules for things that are out of their control.

Letting go of that belief can be so hard!

Blessings to you and yours!

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

Ah .. if only we could forgive ourselves as we forgive others (to paraphrase the Lord's Prayer). I'm pretty sure God forgives us, but we simply can't believe Him, can we? We have to carry on punishing ourselves.

i suppose it's human nature, but then why do some of us do this, while others can let go? I think you're right: it's unhealthy. It's a form of mental unwellness. We just don't see things right.

Rob K said...

Yes, Jay, I do believe that God forgives us even as we tear into ourselves.

It's been said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. That could be also said about spiritual freedom.

We have to watch our thoughts, examine our beliefs on a regular basis to weed out those corrosive ideas.

Take care.

v said...

I don’t know why bad things happen in this life,...

bible says: time and unforseen occurrence befall us all. things happen, even bad things to good people. none of us are walking around with a protective shield around us. we're human.

I don’t see God as a heavenly accountant, moving our lives around like beads on a universal abacus...

totally agree and neither do i. he's not out to get us. often times WE are the reason because of the decisions WE make. then when it doesn't go right, we ask God why. when things are going well, people brag about what THEY did. credit only goes to God when things are wrong and i don't think that's fair.

in life, we take the good and the bad. we have sickness because we inherited sin from adam. when God created adam he was made perfect, no sickness, but he CHOSE to decide what was right or wrong and here we are. in sickness and in health.

v said...

and and i do hope you feel better. i have my flare ups too, like today. it sucks, it hurts, it's depressing.

Rob K said...

Hey, Val:

Thanks for your good wishes and I hope you're feeling better, too.

"...when things are going well, people brag about what THEY did. credit only goes to God when things are wrong."

Oh, that is so spot on. I spent a lot of time complaining and doing the "woe is me" routine when my sickness first started.

I'm making every effort to shake that now and I'm trying to show more gratitude.

Take care and feel better!