The morning following my posting of “Friends” I woke feeling weary. I felt the burdens of my past and present weighing me down. Maybe it’s an age thing; maybe it’s an alcoholic/addict thing; maybe it’s an aging alcoholic/addict thing. Whatever.
The topic of friends was still rolling around in my head, which was unusual. Writing clears my mind most of the time. But life felt heavy that morning, the weight of accumulated years. Like everyone else, I carry the scars of poor decisions, bad behaviors, injuries from others and myself, and emotional and spiritual battles.
There are days when life feels heavy for no particular reason. One day everything appears rosy, the next day it seems gloomy and dismal. On those days I am reminded of Ecclesiastes… everything under the sun is vanity. We strive and work and stress but the results of our effort will not last. Only God is unending. In those stark moments, I recall what my mom once told me, “The only thing harder than life with Jesus is life without Him.”
I know Jesus is the answer to all my problems, but I never see that so clearly as when I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. Sometimes I am like a toddler throwing a tantrum at the grocery store: “It’s not fair! You don’t love me!” Even then, Jesus scoops me up in His arms, brushes me off, and gently tells me it is going to be OK. My tantrums are not productive or healthy. But tantrums get attention, and I crave attention from God.
When the gloomy days are here, God feels farther away. He’s not, of course; it’s just a feeling. Christianity is not based on feeling, it’s based on faith. I need gloomy days more than I need rosy days. The idea that it is OK for me to respond to the disappointments of life in the same manner as the unbeliever is… frightening. Shouldn’t my response be different from those who don’t know Jesus?
That weary morning, the idea came to me that I was alone in entirety of my life experiences; there is no other human on earth who has shared every one of my experiences, joys, darkness, consequences, revelations, or redemption. My friends today don’t have any experiences with the old me. They’ve heard the stories; they just weren’t around when I was tearing through the world like the Tazmanian Devil. They weren’t there through the divorces, the handcuffs, the court rooms. No one has walked through it all except me. And Jesus.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6
This is why Jesus can be my best friend: He knows everything about me, and loved me from the cross. While in agonizing punishment for my rebellion, His love perseveres and overcomes my epic tantrums.
His constant presence from the beginning to the end of my life is a firm foundation. My God knows exactly the depth of the pain I’ve felt, the precise intensity of the worst moments of despair, the gut-clenching falls into hopelessness. And He has compassion for me.
There is a Japanese phrase to describe appreciation for broken or well-used things: wabi-sabi. The imperfect state of something – in function or in form – is the attractiveness of the thing. I’m feelin’ the wabi-sabi, my friends. The contrasts of my before/after life get all mixed together like a hundred colors of paint in a crazy abstract painting. Yet somehow the result is beautiful to God. I don’t know how He does that: turning our junk into His personal art treasures.
This is what I need: that God sees the value of my brokenness, and has compassion instead of condemnation. He sees my life in its entirety, not in pieces like I do. As some have described it: the cracks in us are where God shines through. I hope that’s true because I prefer others see Him in me, and not just me. Especially on the gloomy days.