It’s quite scary when you start to become real.
This may be too dark and twisty and personal for the internet. But so be it. I’m writing this for anyone else who feels as crazy and desperate as I do. But maybe I really am the only one and I’m just doing everything wrong. Please don’t tell me if I am. I’d rather not know if that’s true.
To be made real, you have to face things you always tried to ignore. You have to see things you didn’t want to know existed. You have to accept things you always pretended weren’t really true. And I can’t help but wonder if it’s worth it. The pain and the doubt and the confusion.
It’s scary to discover that the person in the Bible I most identify with isn’t a great hero of the faith. In fact, he is quite the opposite. The rich young ruler. He is the guy that every pastor says not to be like. And yet I’m finding that it’s exactly who I am. Jesus offers him more than he could’ve imagined, but he turned and walked away sad because he just couldn’t let go. Day after day, it seems that this is my story.
I began to realize this horrifying truth last summer. Desperate for the abundant life that Jesus offers and yet too terrified to let go of what is comfortable and familiar. And I felt so powerless to change. So one fine September evening, I asked God to do whatever it took until He was my only treasure. Oh shit.
I must warn you. This is not a pretty prayer. This is not rainbows and butterflies. It’s not like getting a flu shot that just pinches a little and then you get a Hello Kitty bandaid and a lollipop. It’s ferocious and gut-wrenching and bloody and just plain ugly. And you don’t get a Hello Kitty bandaid. I’m not at the pretty part yet, if there even is one. I’ll let you know if I get there.
I guess I can’t say that Jesus didn’t warn me. He did say things like “whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” and “which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” and “any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
But is this seriously what he was talking about? Surely I’m doing something wrong.
Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I know that this truly is worth it. That first I have to really see all the ugly in me and discover all that I’m refusing to let go of. But it’s quite heartbreaking to discover that I’m not the wonderful Christian I thought I was. I knew I wasn’t perfect. But I didn’t know it was this bad.
There are days that I just weep because I treat God like crap and yet He is relentlessly kind to me. He has given me things that I longed for but didn’t know how to ask. And He never gets frustrated with me, even though I don’t hold back in telling Him that I hate how He is answering my prayer. But He knows me. And I’m told that if there was a better way, He would do it.
“God has torn us, that he may heal us. He has struck us down, and He will bind us up.” (Hosea 6:1)
That’s all I got.
I wish I knew what happened to the rich young ruler after his troubling encounter with Jesus. Did he ever run into Jesus again? Did he ever give up his money in exchange for true Life?
I really hope so.