With the knowledge that it has been three, nearly four, months since I have shared my thoughts, for the past three weeks I have entered every weekend with the intention of sitting at this keyboard and taking the time to expound on one of the many ideas from the list of thoughts I have kept since around January of this year. This morning as I sat down to finally accomplish this feat, I took a trip down memory lane and read every post I’ve written and shared over the last two years. While memories and nostalgia took center stage for a moment, I was comforted and amazed to realize that what has been the central theme and intention of each thought shared continues to be my main purpose today . . . to rest and live in the knowledge that I am loved by my Father as I am and to spend my time sharing that love so others may experience it as well. I found it revealing, yet comforting, that I have made no progress from that point in the last two years. This revelation was shocking because living as a churchboy is living a life of progressively doing more, being better, and seeing things in a more spiritual manner. What could this possibly mean if I’m not changing, if I’m not becoming better, if I’m not realizing I’ve experienced a horrendous lapse in judgment over the past few years and I’m actually content, peaceful, and even happy (gasp!) about the decisions I’ve made? It means I’m human.
As I’ve become more secure in the love of the Father, I am also becoming more secure in the knowledge that I am human, God knows I am human, He expects me to be human, it’s okay to be human, and until I take my final breath I will be human. What does that mean? Being human means I get hurt, I get angry, I am tempted, I feel lonely, I feel insecure, but it also means I have the ability to hurt others, to anger others, to fall into temptation, to cause loneliness with acts of neglect and thoughtlessness, and to cause insecurity with careless actions. Life as a churchboy is a life seeking to kill all of those things and insists that you must progress past them to not only be loved and accepted but before you can love and accept others. Churchboys are so mindful and intent on overcoming all of these things they miss out on the rewards of being human.
Being human means I can share in someone else’s life and laugh as they laugh and cry as they cry. Being human means I can identify with someone else’s struggle, trial, and hardship and share their emotions as we walk through it together. Being human means I can admit I’m not perfect and destroys expectations of perfection from others. There is a frightening, uncomfortable vulnerability that comes with being human which is fully relieved only when you’ve realized you’ve found another who is okay just simply being human. I believe Henri Nouwen summed it up best with this statement:
“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
What does being human look like on a daily basis? Over the last six weeks, tears have rolled down my cheeks countless times while watching a weekly talent show as people share their journeys, hope, dreams, successes, and heartbreaks. We spent last evening with a group of people, most of whom I had only met a handful of times prior, at a backyard barbecue complete with swimming pool, bonfire, and even a few alcoholic beverages simply laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Each weekday I share an office space with the same group of people who have not only seen me display a full range of emotions, but I’ve also seen them do the same as well. It’s okay, and it’s allowed, because we realize we are human.
God knows we are human and that is the entire reason Jesus came.
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had[g] the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying . . . Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
Hebrews 2:14-15, 17-18
In his book The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out, Brennan Manning shares the following story of a morning in prayer as he heard Jesus speak to him:
One morning at prayer, I heard this word: Little brother, I witnessed a Peter who claimed that he did not know Me, a James who wanted power in return for service to the kingdom, a Philip who failed to see the Father in Me, and scores of disciples who were convinced I was finished on Calvary. The New Testament has many examples of men and women who started out well and then faltered along the way.
“Yet on Easter night I appeared to Peter. James is not remembered for his ambition but for the sacrifice of his life for Me. Philip did see the Father in Me when I pointed the way, and the disciples who despaired had enough courage to recognize Me when we broke bread at the end of the road to Emmaus. My point, little brother, is this: I expect more failure from you than you expect from yourself.”
Leaving life as a churchboy has made me realize that not only it is okay to be human, God expects it, he is okay with it, and he loves me right where I am. After all, I am human . . . and so are you.
“God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be.” — Brennan Manning