“Let me carry you,” I heard Jesus say during morning prayers part way through co-facilitating the Living From The Heart intensive.
I liked the idea of being picked up and carried, but as I imagined Jesus cradling me in his arms, I saw myself squirm and struggle against the confinement.
I couldn’t relax. What if I forget things or let people down?
Jesus seemed willing to take that risk. Me? Not so much.
After the intensive, I went for spiritual direction. I biked along the Greenway into Vancouver and thought about Jesus’ offer and my response. I noticed how often during that week I was either vigilantly trying to avoid making mistakes or feeling remorse for making them.
“Will I ever be free of this?” I asked my director.
“I wonder if you could take a moment and listen to where your motivation was coming from.”
Tears filled my eyes. Under my vigilance, fear and remorse was a desire to allow the Spirit to flow freely, unhindered by misinformation or oversight.
When I told my director this, she invited me to imagine how God feels about this deep desire.
“God loves it, but there is a big ‘but’ on top of that desire: BUT sometimes I’m so focused on doing things well that I lose sight of how this affects others.”
“And how does God feel about all that?”
I closed my eyes again and saw my pure desire below the surface and the messy reality of “the big but” above. Then Jesus reached out his arm. With one swipe, he cleared the surface.
I didn’t feel blamed and absolved for my missteps or preoccupation, though I suppose I was forgiven. Nor did I get the sense that Jesus didn’t care about the people who’d been hurt by my hypervigilance. In that moment, Jesus wanted nothing to block his view of my desire or keep him from delighting in my heart.
Eventually, my director brought me back to Jesus’ invitation to carry me.
This time when I imagined myself in Jesus’ arms, it felt spacious. There was room for all of me: my desire to let the Spirit flow and my sadness over what I do that hinders it.
“Is there an invitation here for you?” she asked.
“To be as kind to myself as Jesus is to me,” I said as more tears streamed down my face.
People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
–1 Samuel 16:7
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I’m so excited. Beth Carlson-Malena and my friend Mark Fox are co-pastoring a new church called Open Way Community Church in Vancouver. Knowing Mark and Beth, it’s going to be punny, rich and real. What else could it be when God invites them and all of who they are to do some love mischief for the world?
Credits and References:
The statue was carved for Father Thomas Green, SJ (1932-2009) by Joe Crawford, December 1988. Steve Imbach writes, “We visited Father Tom in the Philippines and when our visit with him was over he told us to take it home; it was ours. It now sits in the room I offer direction in.”
“Autumn Leaves 2” by Paul. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2017. http://www.estherhizsa.com