I found a quote in my favorite woman spiritual writer Anne Lamott’s recent post that I would express differently. The quote is: “We are all born broken. God’s grace is the glue that fixes us.” I think we are born needy and unfinished. But our life is a journey where God’s grace can free us from our needs and heal our wounds from an imperfect world, so we can become able to love others more than ourselves.
I am a follower, fan of, totally into, Jesus. He, His life, His love, and His WAY, have been both a new beginning, a road map, and a source of grace for my unfinished and often pitifully needy self in my life journey.
But I have literally danced with joy, praising God when reading scientific descriptions of patterns of evolution in the smallest to the largest things in the Universe. The sheer beauty and amazing brilliance of God shines through it at every point. Everything is in process, including us. And that process is fueled by the Spirit of God within us responding to the Spirit of God outside us in the world and even in unfinished others.
We all fall short of the glory of God!! Because we come into the world helpless, dependent, and needy, we have to be centered on our own needs for survival. No sweet little baby is a sinner. But every sweet little baby is needy and unfinished.
Guess what? NEED is the opposite of LOVE. It makes us have to use other people. Our life journey is about growing free from our personal needs by accepting unconditional love. We are not all the same in our weaknesses and strengths. Some of us are doers and our need is to either run the world or take care of those weaker than ourselves. So, our journey may end with being dependent on others, allowing ourselves to be loved in our helplessness.
What’s the best one-word description of God? LOVE. Jesus fleshed out LOVE. But as a human he grew from need to LOVE.
How? Through both the Spirit within and the Spirit without.
You can see Him grow through the Scriptures from a “show off” twelve-year-old who was oblivious to His human parents’ feelings until his mother made him aware of them, through a thirty-year old needing a push from his mom again to finally start his public journey by being kind to a young couple starting their life together, and on through growing from a tribal view of his ministry by being challenged to love people representing the worst to Jews: a bleeding woman, a Samaritan heretic, and a Soldier of the oppressing conqueror. He slowly came to accept that His mission was to ALL people.
It wasn’t easy. He literally wept for His own people who thought they were the only Chosen ones and that their laws and traditions would save them and only them.
Jesus recognized that the spiritual journey is not a spiritual country club or an automatic insurance policy. It’s a process that begins when we realize that we need the grace of the Spirit of God both within us and outside us to become able to love even those who reject us and our love.
It’s a journey filled with suffering and sorrow and blessings and grace. And even when we are dying, we have moments of doubt just like Jesus did, when he felt God had abandoned Him. And like Jesus, we are called to choose God at that worst moment, “Father, into your hands I trust my spirit.”
To me, Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega and the Apex of humanity’s growth from instinctual survival behavior to recognizing we can and must choose to love others. Jesus fleshed out the Spirit of God’s love for all humanity. Jesus was open to both the Spirit within and the Spirit speaking through others and even through challenging circumstances.
God did not make us with a cookie cutter. We are alike in many ways, but we are born with different strengths and weaknesses and also experience very different benefits and handicaps from the societies we are born into. In the vernacular, we are not dealt the same hand, and some are not even playing with a full deck. No one but God can judge how well we are playing that hand. Not even ourselves. And sometimes we need others for both their sake and ours.
Perfection is not the goal of our personal journey. Growing in our ability to love is the goal. We don’t start with the same potential and we don’t end with the same results. With grace we become the unique person God created us to be. I think it’s like being part of a giant tapestry or even a jigsaw puzzle. Separately some parts seem larger, more beautiful or more important than others, but without each part, the whole will not be perfect. We are only called to be our tiny unique irregular shaped part. All the parts in a tapestry look ugly from underneath, but are what’s needed for the perfect whole.
Scriptures are like letters from God. The stories involve people with various strengths and weaknesses and who are at different parts of their journey. So, what Jesus speaks to people in the stories challenges them where they need to grow at that time in their life.
It works the same for us. When we read the Scriptures enough, what we need to hear can come to mind. Or we can pray and open them for guidance. I’ve found sometimes it just takes one try on a certain day, but other times a combination of Scriptures over a week will give me a clear answer. It helps to get as free as we can of preconceived ideas.
When in your life you find yourself overreacting negatively to a person, consider that Jesus called his best friend Satan, when Peter tried to discourage Him from anticipating suffering and death. As human beings, we all tend to overreact when we are still struggling and need grace to accept something harsh, hard, or scary. In the garden, Jesus sweat blood! He was terrified. He asked God to spare him. And He felt abandoned on His cross. But ultimately He trusted God.
This life is not heaven. This life is not even as long as a blink in eternity. There are tastes of heaven here like beauty, tenderness, and love. But those are the appetizers that help us persevere through pain, sorrow and loss. And pain, sorrow, and challenges motivate us to seek grace. Then the Spirit within us can work together with the Spirit outside us, often even through people we do not expect God to use.
Spirituality is the heart of the journey. Love is the heart of Spirituality and Forgiveness is the heart of Love. Christian community has the potential to help us put our puzzle pieces together to both see and become a larger and more effective part of God’s purpose. But for community to do this, first we need, like the Velveteen Rabbit, to become real about our wounds and flaws and learn to Love one another as the unique unfinished children of God that we are.