Hello everyone 🙂
Sorry this is so late, and also I know I had promised last month to include audio at some point. I have the audio files but haven’t been able to get them ready just yet. I hope to get it sorted out before the end of summer. For now here is the text from the May 7th service, let us know what you think 😀
You are all awesome. That’s all I have to say 😀
Ok I’m just kidding. Seriously though it’d be nice if that’s all it took. No doubt there are some of you who are sitting there, nodding in agreement. Yeah, I know I’m awesome.
But just a surely there are those of you who really don’t believe me when I say that. You are awesome? They’re just words, they don’t actually mean anything. You look in the mirror and you see every single thing that you think is wrong with you. Perhaps your mind carries you back to all the times someone told you how broken and worthless you are.
It’s not so easy to turn that off, you can’t just flip a switch in your head that says love yourself. Sometimes the problem is mental health or addiction, sometimes it’s social, stemming from friends or family members. Sometimes it things in our past, mistakes we’ve made, people we’ve hurt. There are a lot of voices putting us down, telling us over and over that we are not and can never be good enough.
And Jesus tells us all of that is ok. Not just ok but actually a good thing. Being forced to look inward, and confront the scariest parts of ourselves makes us better people. The things that are wrong and broken about us are the reason we grow. We are told that God loves us unconditionally. And yet I’ve experienced a lot of voices trying to tell me that God’s unconditional love is highly conditional. That God will be angry with me if I don’t follow a lot of very specific rules.
But that’s not what the Bible says. Yes it tells us to understand and respect the rules. But it also makes it clear that these rules aren’t meant to be a burden, rather they are the keys to our freedom. There’s a passage in the book of Matthew that I believes speaks beautifully to this point.
Mathew 11 28-30 MSG
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I think the trap that a lot of us fall into is that we see our own flaws and feel the need to correct them. When that proves impossible we loose heart. We begin to feel as if we can never become whole. But that’s not how it works. If you were to fix everything you think is wrong with you right now in one magical instant, it wouldn’t take long for you to find new things that you feel are wrong with you.
Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t work on your problems, but rather to understand that simply working on those problems, earnestly and diligently is the solution. Do what you can, and that will be enough. Yes you’re still going to have problems, that’s never going to change. That’s what life is, every single day we are learning to solve problems. Life isn’t about failure or success, it’s basically fail until you succeed. And when you succeed, there is always another challenge waiting.
For much of my life I was a total failure. I hated myself so much. I didn’t feel like I had anything to offer the world, I couldn’t do anything right, I had nothing to offer. For a time I seriously contemplated suicide. And then one summer when I was visiting my older cousin, they told me about their own struggles, their own thoughts of suicide. The details are complex and personal, but needless to say their journey had been much more difficult than I could have guessed.
This was a person I had looked up to my whole life. Their story was something of a revelation for me. They were such a strong and capable person, and I began to realize that part of their strength stemmed from the suffering that they had experienced. It was hardly an instant fix for my own problems, my life was still hard, but knowing what they had to deal with helped me realize I could find a way forward.
Last month I spoke a little about the salt and the light. It’s the idea that the things which make us unique are the most precious parts of ourselves. And that includes our flaws. Every moment of your life is important. Simply by being alive, living each day, you are becoming something amazing.
You are unique in all the world. You bring a gift to the world that nothing else can replicate.
Your journey is your own, you are the only person to ever experience life the way that you have. You are strong.
You endure pain and torment, you move forward and push yourself, in spite of the heavy loads you carry.
You are self aware. Many people have tried to tell you who you are, and you have come to learn both the truth and falsehoods of their claims. You know who you are, and you don’t need anyone to tell you.
You are beautiful. A precious soul who’s thoughts and feelings are vast universe, complex, vibrant and free.
You have failed and succeeded. In doing so you have learned about yourself and about the world. You’ve been repeating this pattern you’re whole life. You have solved more problems than you can remember.
You have loved, and you have brought love into the world. Every day, every breath you have worked and continue to work to define yourself, to become more than what you were. Still you, but an improved version of you.
And sooner or later it falls apart. No matter how old you get you will inevitably experience times that feel like setbacks. Each of us has found ourselves looking back at a better time, a time when it felt like we had it all figured out. Things made sense, the world loved us and we loved the world back. Then something changed, we dropped the ball, or maybe the ball was dropped on us. Either way it felt as if we were down and there was no getting up again.
Every one of us will at times feel despair, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The dark times are still a part of the journey forward. The worst times of my life are the times I look to when I need to find strength, or to lend my strength to others. And the same thing goes for each and every one of you. Our flaws make us stronger. We fall down, so we can learn to stand up. Just like Batman. And Jesus.
I want you to take a moment and look around the room. Take a quick look at everyone around you, don’t stare, just a quick glance. I want you to notice that every one of the people around you is awesome. This is a room full of awesome people. You are awesome. It’s ok if you don’t always believe it, you’re awesome anyway. It’s ok if you don’t always recognize the incredible gifts you give to the world, your gifts will be ready to share when the time comes.