I waste a lot of time defending myself, so please pardon the crazy in me if that comes through. It’s ridiculous to just sit at home and wait for government assistance paperwork to go through. I can read my Bible and I can watch YouTube for as long as I want, but at some point, you crack a bit and just want to give anything back to anyone.
So here you go. My ramblings, musings and whatnot on why I am who I am and who God is to me. Not because I’m anyone special, but maybe there’s something here for you. It goes off like bombs in my heart. (Also! A perfectly suitable explanation for why I always want to pray with you!)
(I apologize in advance for the parentheses.)
If I have come to mind this year (madly presumptuous of me, maybe, but I know you exist,) you’ve probably wondered why Jeremy be acting so crazy. Well, to be honest, I went a little crazy. According to my doctors, anyway.
But it was bigger than that. My mental health is a grain of sand compared to my spiritual health.
Should I digress here to address the existence of a spiritual world? I want to, but maybe I should leave that for another day. Let me just remind you that popular opinion has resisted any mention of a spiritual moral authority for less time than marijuana has been prohibited.
So, mental health is far inferior to spiritual health. Why? If the brain is a machine set up to process thoughts, those thoughts have a source and that source has to be something that isn’t my brain because information does not create itself. Therefore, my intellect is submitted to a higher something. (Also therefore, if I talk about my “body” or my “flesh,” I’m including my biological mental processes.) Which, since we don’t argue semantics here, I’ll refer to as a soul.
What is a soul? The word itself conjures up a sense of a person’s core being, or identity. The soul, maybe, governs the flesh? Isn’t my body just a machine? I read a lot and that’s what science has told me all my life. So, then, my soul is who I am. I am not my flesh; how could that be an identity? When I talk about who I am, I talk about my dreams and my fears, not my aches and pains.
Therefore, if I am a soul in a body, then what use is my body? Really. If I’m an immortal being created in the image of God (Yes, sorry, yet another massive logical leap if you don’t believe.), then why should I ever need my flesh?
Personally, that’s a very real question. I have a laundry list of things I can’t do because of my mental health. If I could be free from that, I’d be in heaven (ha!). And I serve a God who claims not only to love me, but to be love. Why would He put me into this cage in the first place?
(This is where it gets really awesome.)
Okay, deep breath. Consider this. We’re taught that the God Almighty cast Satan from heaven for trying to become God. Then we’re taught that any attempt to try and play God with our souls causes them to die and never see heaven, which is where we get sin. So Satan was in heaven at first and somehow got corrupted with this death of the soul (steady corruption brought on by sin) while he was there.
How and why that could have happened is just way bigger than me and I’m not gonna touch it. I know God is sovereign because He is and because I have seen it. And I know now that He’s also titanically patient to teach us not only how to avoid sin, but why.
I’ve said all that (because it’s amazing and) to get to this point. My generalized anxiety (I will often somewhat cryptically refer to it as my monster. It’s a bit triggery.) has taught me something about myself that I’m sure applies to everybody, if maybe in a less obvious way.
Oh man, can I get weird? Bear with me in a little folly?
We’re all infected.
Lame Walking Dead references notwithstanding, my soul, which governs my every decision, was not functioning like it should. See, I professed to be a Christian, and would happily tell you if asked, but there was something wrong with my decision-making.
In trying to “love,” I had learned to be a people-pleaser. That’s not Christian, that’s living a lie, and it ends up looking a lot like finger pointing (I don’t get to do that here, either. I’m very aware of how many times I end up throwing this in someone’s face.)
Maybe you’re wondering how that makes a difference. So what if I’m trying really hard to be a better Christian? We all mess up so what’s the big deal, right? I tell everybody my sins are forgiven, don’t I? Why can’t I just keep trying to love and be thankful that I have a get-out-of-hell-free card?
Here’s the brick wall.
God isn’t stupid.
You cannot trick Him.
He doesn’t change His mind.
(I’m tempted to add “I believe” here, but somehow, I don’t think God’s in the least bit held back by what I believe. And, you know, this is a blog.)
So, Forgiving God Almighty (and He is SO merciful, don’t get me wrong!) sees me going to the occasional birthday party and drinking
a little a lot too much, but I still show up at church, so I’m doing okay, right? Most people don’t even go to church. And I’m forgiven! So why do I still feel like garbage? Why am I so messed up way deep inside? Like I’m making somebody cry but I can’t see who.
Maybe I’m not forgiven after all. (That’s a reasonable conclusion after years of guilt.) I’m not improving at all. I didn’t feel anything change. How long am I supposed to believe before it kicks in? (Worst drug ever, right?)
Let me pose to you a philosophical question and then answer it right away.
If you paid for somebody’s food, clothes, bills, speeding tickets, university tuition, wedding, honeymoon and house, you would expect, and it would be perfectly reasonable, to have a very good and very close relationship with that person, right?
What if all that person ever did was exactly everything you had asked them not to? For how long would you want to pay their bills? What if they started telling you about it and acting like they hadn’t done anything wrong?
A relationship like that doesn’t stay a relationship. Unconditional love knows not to tolerate treatment like that. It bears with it, but it does not stay.
For example, you could never really live with somebody as their equal, no matter how much you love them, if they were sleeping with someone else, could you? You’d feel like a prisoner whenever they weren’t paying attention to you.
So, it’s unsustainable to say I’m a Christian if I don’t believe.
This is where it’s so important to be sure what the word “believe” means. Belief isn’t a switch you flip. Belief is faith, isn’t it? It isn’t something you do as much as it is something you become. You don’t just instantly respect a new boss, you grow a relationship of trust and maintain it (at least) to avoid misunderstanding.
So when Jesus says “believe in Me and all your sins will be forgiven,” He isn’t talking about a one-time invitation of something into your life. So, so far from it.
To digress again, I grew up being taught to “invite Jesus into my heart.” I don’t regret that; it was the terminology people used and had nothing to do with intent. But it’s so very misleading. The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit is given as God’s seal of approval. As a sign that we’re bought and paid for, not as Christianity in spiritual pill form.
Anyway, back on point, I was being a sneaky Christian. I was Clark Kent, whispering to everybody as quietly as possible, “I’m actually Superman.”
You know what Jesus does when you start pretending He’s not that big a deal to you? He says “Okay.” You know why? Because if your best friend said that, you’d reply the same way (Or worse. Am I right?). And then you’d go home and bleed, because they didn’t do that by accident.
But here’s the best part. This is what gets me weeping with joy sometimes. And I’m not exaggerating or saying that lightly. The same Bible that has so convinced me that I’m incapable of maintaining any semblance of the good that I want to do tells me that there is a way for that to be done for me. But it will cost my life.
And here we come back to that important distinction between the physical world and the spiritual. And it’s also what keeps me through the worst panic attacks. What my body perceives as real and true (this apple is red) is not always real and true (somebody painted it, egad!). What my soul perceives as real and true, if it is left to its own devices, comes right back to itself, time and again. What do I want? What do I feel like? It instructs the brain to consult the body for instruction. But we already know that our bodies fail us all the time.
But when anchored in Christ (the Bible says “to abide,”) suddenly the soul has direction. And in finding direction, it finds a place to develop roots and grow because it is a Safe Place. And that growth is what turns a person from thinking about death to thinking about life. That growth is what the Holy Spirit does inside a person and it’ll change you before you knew you wanted something different. So we can say we’re Christians all we like, but you don’t become something by putting on a nametag.
In giving up my life, suddenly I receive it. In surrendering literally everything (not just a part anymore,) suddenly I receive back more than I could ask or imagine.
Not to make you squirm but because it’s amazing, here’s a beautiful example. The female egg has 250 million potential suitors but the only one that produces life is the one that gets all the way in. Not only should that give you a really fun idea of how amazing it is that you exist exactly the way you do, it’s a perfect example of the difference between abiding in Jesus and every other alternative.
That brings us to here, where I am now. This is why I keep on saying things that make people uncomfortable. I believe we’re a bunch of hell-bound sinners with a lot more than a get-out-of-hell-free card available if we’d just live like we were supposed to in the first place. We were promised life and life abundantly and we’re busy ignoring church or going there to see when God will finally come through and we “won’t be rich but we’ll have enough that we won’t worry.” (I’m quoting me there, from a year ago.)
I want to post this before the monster notices I’ve written about it again, so I’ll leave it there and hope it makes some sense. This is huge once you get it, I promise. I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that this is true and I do not often give bad advice.
I’ll close on this point. If I needed my finances managed, I would look for somebody who makes the best possible decisions for me. If there was an affordable way for me to get the best accountant in the world, I would do it even if I didn’t need one. In the same way, if it was possible for somebody else to be able to give you only the best advice in every situation (not just financial,) and you could afford it, wouldn’t you give the reins over to them? It would only be logical because humans make mistakes.
If you made it to the end of this, you’re amazing. This is just so huge. The part of me that’s always drunk on adrenaline says I’d better not step on your toes, but the cool, calm pool at the center of my being says to be still and share His love with His children.
(By the way, Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man. God was bragging that He got to be with us.)