I just got home from a day of back to back appointments. What a gift to hear people share their lives.  However, I find myself sitting on my couch wondering how can I receive God’s grace today? In THIS moment.  I had what I would rank as being in my top 3 “I’m the very worst missionary, person, human, staff person, counselor, friend on the planet” moments today.  It ranks right up there with the time I told a student her tongue was like gangrene.  Not one of my finer moments in life.  I feel sad.  I feel sad at how my words can hurt and cut.  They linger in the air and I would give anything to take them back or explain them away, but there is no such app, button or time machine.  While I might not have the magic app, what I do have is the choice to own my words and ask where they came from?  There is ownership and forgiveness and grace.  There is the gift that doesn’t feel like a gift – a severe mercy – that will come from this careless wrong.  I pray that this will mark me. Mark me in such a way that I will never be so careless again.  

This morning started off with my face on the floor praying for God to use me however he wanted. It is easy to be on your face when you feel you are “good.”  Being on your face in the midst of failure brings a new and deeper sense of depravity and need for God’s grace and mercy.  So bring it on, but just as importantly, I pray I am marked in such a way as to never do again what I did today.  But here’s reality.  My cousin Ami just texted and said, “I’m laughing.  He’s pulling you out of your wholeness and into His.”  YES!  I can get my counseling degree, counsel others, pour out my life, read books on the heart, give talks about renewing the mind and being self-aware and it is not good enough.  IT is not about my wholeness, or lack thereof.  It’s about stepping into HIS wholeness in my brokenness.  He is the one who lifts my head.  He is the only one who can forgive sins.  He is the one who can heal all the sweet students and staff and friends and family who I have hurt along the way.  I’m not trying to go “all bad” on myself here, but to honestly acknowledge that I am thinking that today might be a game-changer for me and to that I am grateful. 

Anyone else feeling broken or shame today?  Chip Dodd in Voice of the Heart (see, I can’t get away from this stuff :)) says,

In brokenness we are offered the opportunity to see our powerlessness
and neediness.  These painful circumstances often break us of our pride-
filled defiance against needing and break us of the fear that our lack of
power will result in rejection.  

Shame is also the emotion that makes us aware of our incompleteness.  It helps us see that we need others.  There’s a shame that leads us to God, but then there’s an unhealthy shame (Dodd would call it, “impaired shame”) which leads to self-rejection.  “In impaired shame we have learned to equate humility with humiliation, failure with uselessness, and inability with worthlessness.  This makes healthy shame toxic.”  So we have a choice today. You and me.  Do we let shame and brokenness lead us to repentance and to receive a grace that frees? Or do I think grace is too good for me and wallow?  Jesus’ invitation is to the poor, lepers, sick, prostitutes, tax collectors, liars, demonized, and even to a pharisee like me.  He’s invitational to you today as well.  If you are too scared or full of shame to limp to the throne then call me and I will limp with you and together we will find grace and mercy in our time of need.

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