I walked into the Fox building on Sunday, and someone said: “I am mad at you… about the E-pistle: you never told us what the revelation was.”
Well, yes, that’s true. I never shared my “blockbuster revelation.” I figured that didn’t matter so much. Because last week’s E-pistle “Writing on the Virtual Wall” wasn’t about me! It was about keeping at asking our questions, even when they are tough or painful, that we might open ourselves to answers that may come to us.
I wanted you to think about your questions, not get sidetracked by my answer. I even thought not sharing my specifics was a good personal boundary.
And then someone else said to me: “I thought when you didn’t tell us in the E-pistle, you were going to tell us in the sermon. That’s why I got up and came to church today!” I responded innocently, “Tell you what?” “Stop teasing us! WHAT WAS THE REVELATION?”
Ok. The revelation was about my sense of personal agency. And why it’s, well, you might say, under-developed. And leaves me struggling with feelings of self-doubt that are greater than the limitations of my capacity. Or my reality.
I grew up in a family where a lot was expected of me. And I responded by becoming a can-do type: hard-working, competent, responsible, sometimes over-functioning. Mostly, I don’t recognize this so much: instead, it’s just who I am.
But, despite my knowing rationally that I’m a fairly productive person who can usually get things accomplished, I often am left with a nagging feeling of impotence. Like I am faking effectiveness: that it’s a sham, even if no one else seems to really catch on. Almost as if I’ve gotten away with some sort of charade, and come off looking successful. I can play the role, even bank on being seen as successful. But in my feelings, I know better. Or suffer not being able to quite experience the accomplishments myself, even when others recognize and acknowledge them.
That was the “problem.” Something I’ve been aware of in some form for most of the years of my adulthood.
And all of a sudden last week, it occurred to me that rather than a disconnect, the dichotomy between my successful exterior and my self-doubting interior comes from a reality that I had never taken in fully.
The revelation was that I had not learned how to “fake it because I can’t make it” …and gotten away with it. Instead, the dichotomy I experience comes from having my sense of myself forged as an over-productive child. I really could do many things. Some incredible things for someone so young.
But I was still a child, so the sense of the limits of my abilities or independence were also on target. I was not who others saw me as– because alongside of this effective, self-sufficient individual, I was a little boy who wanted, needed to be taken care of.
It was a breakthrough. From having this dogging sense of a contradiction to a new, clearer sense of self-understanding. I’m not sure what it will all mean, or what difference it could grow to make. But it felt important—to recognize a connection that had eluded me before.
Or maybe it was just that with my Swiss friends in town last week, I spent most of my time thinking in German, and “eine Offenbarung” sounds even more momentous than a revelation!
So there you have it. Not anything particularly exciting, top secret or world-changing for the rest of you. But also not my point last week in the E-pistle! Because you have your own questions and difficulties that you struggle with.
But perhaps, now shared, it’s a fine point for jumping off to my conclusion this week.
I have been reminded over the years in ministry how much difficulty people’s perceptions of themselves and others cause:
~ some of us struggle with how we see ourselves;
~ for others, the struggle is more with how others see us; and
~ for the vast majority of us, the issue is fashioning some working peace between how others see us and our own self-perception.
Whether you are struggling with others’ perceptions, your own, or — most likely — both, try and find some solace along the way and a goal for your journey in how God perceives you. You may not recognize the person you see in the mirror. You may not know the person other people seem to know. But God sees you. Always. Deeply. Intimately. Lovingly. When you’re struggling with or failing at perceptions, remember how God perceives you. Try and see yourself as God does.
In God’s eyes, there’s no judgment; only acceptance. In God’s eyes, there’s no reality or even pain too hard to bear. No weaknesses too great to be overcome.
God accepts us. Embraces us wholeheartedly, maybe especially where others or we ourselves find it hard to embrace us. And there’s healing in that hug. Because God sees not only all our potential, but what is untarnishable and already sacred in us — right now, even if its years from coming out in the light of day. God sees our light when we ourselves or others can see only shadows.
God sees you and cherishes you and loves you… and can take care of you… long enough and good enough, to help you along the way to your being able to do the same for yourself…
See you in church,