It is okay.

It is okay.

Can you hear that? Do you know that?

It is okay. 

It is okay. 

It is okay when you drop a ball you've been juggling because your hands aren't able to hold what they once could. You can pick it up later, or just let it lie there until someone else leans over to grab it.

It is okay when you don't know what to do. When you can't figure out what kind of discipline to use with your child, or how to get a project done, or how to find and keep up with friendships, you're not failing. None of us really know what we are doing.

It is okay to not follow through on a resolution. You can try again tomorrow. Or you can decide to let it go. Either way, you can choose what is best for who you are today, which might not have been what was best for who you were yesterday.

It is okay when other people are successful at something you've been dreaming about doing. What they have accomplished does not diminish your abilities or potential. When we work and create, we are not fighting over table scraps, we are growing a garden. More seeds planted and more ground cultivated means more life for everyone.

It is okay when you are not good at something. It does not mean you are not good at anything, it just means you are not good at that thing. Let someone else do what you can't do and bring the gifts you have to offer without shame or regret.

It is okay to get to the end of the day and choose Netflix or chocolate or wine or a bath or whatever else brings a smile to your face and relaxation to your body. Sometimes just making it to the end of a day with hair still on our heads is cause for celebration.

It is okay to ask for help. It is okay to receive help. It does not mean you are needy or can't handle something you should be able to handle. It means someone else sees you and wants to love you. Let them.

It is okay to change your priorities. New challenges, opportunities, and relationships may pop up and shift your schedule out of whack. You don't have to keep doing everything you were doing for the amount of time you were doing it and add more. You don't have the ability to stop time but you do have the ability to rearrange your commitments.

It is okay.

You are human. You are more than okay. You are a wonder and a masterpiece, just as you are.

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Lowering our Shields and Searching for Help

Psalm 70I tried not to blink, knowing that the closing of my eyelids would turn wet eyes into tears, and that tears would turn into crying.  

At some point I couldn’t control it anymore. My eyes closed, the tears fell, and the cries began.

 

Of course, this all happened while sitting in a work meeting. My cheeks got hot and my body fidgety as I dealt with my own discomfort of vulnerability in this kind of setting.

 

I sat there for a bit, uncertain of how to proceed. Do I explain where all this is coming from? Do I move on? Do I make a joke?

 

How do I stop this?

 

Really, though, that wasn’t the question I needed to think about. The real question was: What is at the root of this?

 

Because the conversation was not particularly difficult, just direct. It was a good talk about a relatively minor conflict regarding a process. The kind of important chats I think are at the center of healthy teamwork and collaboration.

 

I didn’t want to do anything to deter this person from moving towards this kind of conversation again. Yet there I was, sitting cross-legged in an office chair, crying in response.

 

The root was not the tough conversation. The root was my exposed vulnerability.

 

My shields were worn thin from stuff going on in my personal life, and suddenly, I felt the arrows of feelings I usually ping away in those moments.

 

Shame for getting something wrong.

 

Fear of failure.

 

Disappointment in not pleasing people.

 

Feelings I thought I had outgrown suddenly flew at my face and pierced my tear ducts into revelation.

 

It turns out I hadn’t outgrown those feelings or outran them or stopped letting them bother me. It turns out I just had a good shield. And once that defense was down, I was just as vulnerable as I had always been.

 

I wonder sometimes if our biggest enemy is ourselves. I wonder if our own feelings are what are most likely to taunt us and pursue us into holes of darkness.

 

What if we prayed for God to rescue us from the arrows of shame, disappointment, and fear?

 

Please, God, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me. May those {feelings} who try to kill me be humiliated and put to shame. May those {feelings} who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace. Let {those feelings} be horrified by their shame, for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!” – Psalm 70:1-3 (Inserts added by me)

 

What if instead of trying to shield ourselves, we asked for help? That is more difficult. Because asking for help feels needy.

 

But as for me, I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aid, O God. You are my helper and my savior; O Lord, do not delay. – Psalm 70:5

 

The reality is, it’s okay to need help. Our vulnerability doesn’t make us weak; it makes us human. When we stop shielding ourselves, we open ourselves up to feel. And in the faith context, that acceptance of feeling and acknowledgement of vulnerability allow us to recognize we are not God. We cannot control everything.

 

But maybe it’s that letting go of the shield that helps us find a new joy.

 

But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “God is great!” – Psalm 70:4


That was my reflection on Psalm 70. Link up with your own Psalm 70 post below. Please read a few others, too, if you can. And come back next week with a post on Psalm 71.

 

(Also, I'm experimenting with leaving the link up open longer. You have a week to make your post! Maybe that will give you the nudge you were waiting for to join. Use #PsalmsJourney to tweet and follow the posts of others.)

 

The question no one likes to ask

Will you help me? This seems like something most people loathe asking. Including me.

Sometimes, it’s because I don’t want to admit I need it. I am an independent person. I don’t want to own up to the fact that I can’t do something on my own.

But more often, it’s because I don’t like the way the question makes me feel: vulnerable.

If I take the step of asking people for help, it’s because I think they can assist me in some way. However, there is no guarantee those people will actually say yes. There is a difference between what people can do and what they will do.

Asking for help leaves me exposed, wavering in the wind of unknown as I wonder how the person will respond. Wondering if I will be rejected.

Jesus was often asked for help. But perhaps no one felt as vulnerable when asking as the Jewish man in Mark 1.

This Jewish man had leprosy. He would have spent his life not only in physical pain, but in social isolation. He not only could not be cured, but could not be touched. He carried with him the label “unclean.”

When that unclean and desperate man heard of the healings Jesus had performed, I wonder… did he travel to see Jesus right away? Or did he ponder whether it would be worth it? His requests for help had always come back with the answer “no” from everyone else. Dare he ask Jesus? Even if Jesus could help, would He?

And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”  Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. – Mark 1:40-42

When the leper approached, Jesus was “moved with compassion.” That phrase is from the Greek word “splanchnistheis.” It means to be moved as to one's bowels (which were thought to be the seat of love and pity).

And that feeling moved Jesus to do the unthinkable. Jesus touched the unclean man.

In another Bible story, found in John 4:43-54, Jesus healed the son of an official without even being in the same city. Jesus did not have to touch him in order to heal him.

Jesus did not need to touch the man. He wanted to touch the man. Because Jesus knew this man needed more than relief from a physical disease. He needed to be restored. He needed to be loved.

And that is exactly what Jesus did.

Jesus said “I am willing.”

Many people struggle to connect with God because they view Him as a disconnected authoritative figure, supervising the activity of humans from afar.

Jesus blows that idea out of the water. Because Jesus says “I am willing.”

When humans sinned, and there needed to be a way to restore right relationship with God, Jesus said, “I am willing.” When that way meant being born as a tiny, helpless baby, Jesus said, “I am willing.” When that way meant using His time and energy to heal diseases, speak truth, and restore hearts, Jesus said “I am willing.” When that way meant being rejected and misunderstood, Jesus said, “I am willing.” When that way meant dying a painful death, and being forsaken by His Own Father, Jesus said, “I am willing." When that way meant showing His power by rising from the dead, Jesus said, “I am willing.” And when that way meant His Father seating Jesus at His right hand to rule, Jesus said, “I am willing.”

And so now, when we struggle to pray, when we wonder if we can really ask the God of the Universe to help little old us, we can remember that

Jesus says, “I am willing.”

What does Jesus saying, “I am willing” reveal to you?

Read the post before this one, Reveal: A Series for Lent.

*Photo credit: adapted from liberalmind1012 on Flickr Creative Commons