Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Christianity Brings Joy...So Why am I So Messed Up?

A Christian is full of joy. Right?

So what's wrong with me? Why do I so often feel weak, angry, frustrated and broken? Why am I depressed and obsessed and devoid of energy, and why does my life seem like such a train wreck?

It is rather a blow to my "Christian Ego". I've tried using raw will power to bury all that and make myself joyful, but it doesn't work. Okay, I know there's a lot of pathology going on here. Its important to acknowledge that and deal with it on the appropriate level.

It is also important to recognize honestly that my Christian life and witness leave much to be desired. NEWSFLASH: I am a sinner!


I can't deny it. But I also must never be satisfied with it. God is changing me, and He wants me to cooperate with Him. Into the midst of all my mess, Jesus has come! Jesus is here with me, and I want to follow Him.

I'm on His mysterious journey, and it has plenty of dark valleys and sorrows on many levels. Its about healing me and raising me up to a supernatural life, making me a new creation, an adopted son of the Father.

Yup. Me. Bozo-the-human-being, destined to live forever in the glory of God.

The journey, with all its depths, is also about sharing in the mysterious solidarity of the human race, helping to carry the burdens of others, and being plunged into the great love of the heart of Jesus, which is always going out to the margins....

And so, again and again, I discover that I am weak and broken.

God wants all of that. He wants our crying out in pain–spiritual, emotional, or physical–to be a cry that begs for Him. Where else can we bring all of that? Jesus has already borne all of it, my weakness, my brokenness, all of it right down to the core of me… He has endured it all and wants me to open up that vulnerability so He can transform me. That doesn’t mean he’ll make me “feel better” (at least, not in the way I think He should), but He will deepen my trust in Him, and it is through trust that I am changed.

It is through trust that I begin to taste joy.

A priest once told me to imagine I had a basket. Take the anger, the fear, whatever, and (in my mind) put it in the basket, and then (again in my imagination) put the basket on the altar before the Blessed Sacrament and say “Jesus I give this to you.” If I find more stuff still there inside me, I put it in the basket again. And again. Give it to Jesus.

"But I can't do this..." Grab that feeling right there, and put it in the basket. Bring it to the altar. Give it to Jesus. "I feel so helpless..." Basket. "My head hurts, I can't think, I'm exhausted..." Basket. "But I don't want to change. I love myself. I want to keep my life. I don't want to give myself away!..." BASKET!

Okay, that’s a “technique” — it might be helpful, or it might not. If all we can do is groan in pain, let’s groan to the Father and let the Spirit groan in us. I am convinced that He works deeply this way. Just “give” it to Him. God is not surprised by our pain. He has made it His own.

On the other side of it all is an indestructible joy. A spark of this fire has already begun in our hearts, and sometimes others can see it even when we can't.