i used to throw my own self-condemnation parties. i would do something i painfully would regret. (it would be something entirely against all that i wished i would have done). and i would throw insults at myself. “you’ll never get it right.” “you are such an idiot.” “you have failed… yet again.” and somehow, i justified speaking those things to myself.
i distinctly remember such a time. you know when you try to do the right thing in the midst of pressure…and you are fighting…..fighting…. fighting some more….wait…whoooops…here we go…and we are done with the trying… give in. (this generally means i have my moment. my moments are a little like tantrums) i pretend i don’t care. i act like its a release, but its not. and then here comes the self-condemnation. this particular tantrum, i grabbed my bible. for me, my bible is life. i can’t explain it. its breath. its everything. i can’t live without it. its not judgement. to me, its grace. it has answers for my tantrums.
i open my bible, feeling like a hypocrite. and i start reading philippians 4.
“finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right. whatever is pure. whatever is lovely. if there is anything of good report, if there is anything excellent, or anything worthy of joy. dwell on these things….(i think my thoughts about this went something like, “yeah…yeah…yeah”) -but this particular part, this part made me pause.
…the things you have seen and learned and received from me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
there are times when you think you might be hearing jesus. and then there are times that you know you hear him. i tend to hear him when i’m vulnerable. like this time.
long list of things i’m supposed to do. but then it says. “practice these things. practice, and the God of peace will be with you.” immediately the burden lifted. his peace, his presence, isn’t contingent upon my mistakes. its not contingent on my hypocritical behavior, its contingent upon my willingness to practice. and practice is so much more freeing. i got up from that moment like a little girl who felt care-free and was without burden. the pressure was off. i just had to practice. (i can do that). and God is pleased. i don’t even have to necessarily get it right. i just have to keep moving forward. didn’t feel condemnation that time. i felt comfort. and i felt like my Father was pleased with my willingness to continue to practice through all of my mistakes.
fast foward three years later…
the epiphany continued to grow. emri began learning how to walk. to see her stand on wobbly legs was the most precious thing i had ever seen. i remember her first step. what a wobbly one. it ended with a fall. ben and i clapped and celebrated her first step. she smiled, very aware that her parents were incredibly proud of her. the whole process of walking was all about falling. because if she never fell, she would never know how to keep her balance. every time she fell, she absorbed the experience, mentally making a note of what not to do next time, and she would try again. what a joyful process. were ben and i annoyed that she fell a lot? are you kidding me? we loved it. we obviously, anticipated her to fall. we knew she would. it wasn’t that we loved to see her fall, it was just incredibly endearing to see how brave she was to continue learning to take steps. she soon began to take several steps and ben and i would take a few steps back, increasing her distance. she often would take a few steps and just fall into our arms. i can’t really express the joy of watching your little one learn how to walk.
jesus feels the same.
he’s so proud of us. he celebrates the journey. if we could only hear him express his joy. he’s clapping. he’s smiling. looking at how far you have come! so engaged and so proud.
so i love the term practice. it means a lot to me. it reminds me that i’m loved and that i don’t have to have it all together. it reminds me that i’m protected and guarded. and makes me feel more safe to take risks. because we just have to practice.
and the God of peace will be with us.