Are You Bedraggled, Beat-up, and Burnt-out?
Relationships are Commitments to Suffer Together
Relationships can be just plain hard though. I think Ann Voskamp said it well when she said that her husband is the person she has committed to suffering together with during this lifetime. We’re all human and we are going to hurt each other. We will back away when we should be leaning in. We will say the opposite of what we meant to say. We will miss moments that we should have been present for. We will respond and react completely inappropriately.
But when we can accept where we are, how weak and vulnerable we feel and offer this to God and ask Him to strengthen us and give us courage and the kind of love that invests, sees, and brings out the good, we are a step closer to being more open and ready to give and receive love.
Ultimately, we will fall flat on our faces. Every person that we love and rely on will fall flat on their faces too. When we can stop feeling horrified and shocked at our own frailty and the frailty of the people in our lives and instead expect it and know that the blood of Christ covers us all, we can live out the command, to love each other deeply, for it’s that love that covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
Christ’s Presence Over Perfection
We are all works in progress, each in different seasons, and in different stages of growth. As we grow in Christ, our butterfly transformations will soon begin to emerge from our cocoons. This isn’t accomplished by striving for and demanding perfection in ourselves or in our relationships though. The ability to love and to feel energized in life in spite of our personal failures and the unmet expectations, as well as the disappointments in our relationships, is found in the presence of Christ. When we pray and admit our own inability to love, when we read God’s Word that has power to transform us, when we allow our walls to be broken down by the Holy Spirit, this is how we become the people we want to be and out of this humble spirit, we are able to invite others in and accept our own brokenness and theirs as well.
A Parting Prayer
In closing, as I’m praying for restoration, forgiveness, peace, reconciliation, and wisdom for myself and my relationships, I pray this over your heart and your people as well. May our burnt-out spirits be restored as we look to Christ’s unmerited and unconditional love and His blood that covers all of our sins.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. ” 1 John 4:9-11
And lastly, a bit of the ragamuffin gospel for other fellow ragamuffins!
“At the risk of sounding like a country cracker cowboy preacher, allow me to raise some intimate, personal questions about your relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. Do you live each day in the blessed assurance that you have been saved by the unique grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? After falling flat on your face, are you still firmly convinced that the fundamental structure of reality is not works but grace? Are you moody and melancholy because you are still striving for the perfection that comes from your own efforts and not from faith in Jesus Christ? Are you shocked and horrified when you fail? Are you really aware that you don’t have to change, grow, or be good to be loved?
Are you as certain of the triumph of good over evil as the fermentation of dough by yeast? Though on a given day you may be more depressed than anything else, is the general orientation of your life toward peace and joy? Are you diminished by other people’s perception of you or your own definition of yourself? Do you possess that touch of folly to transcend doubt, fear, and self-hatred and accept that you are accepted?
If not, you probably belong to the brotherhood of the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out. You may feel like a charred log in a fireplace, totally drained of energy, and unable to light a fire in yourself. Your personal inner resources appear to be exhausted.
The first step toward rejuvenation begins with accepting where you are and exposing your poverty, frailty, and emptiness to the love that is everything. Don’t try to feel anything, think anything, or do anything. With all the goodwill in the world you cannot make anything happen. Don’t force prayer. Simply relax in the presence of the God you half believe in and ask for a touch of folly.
Should you ever have the opportunity to celebrate Easter in France, you will hear one phrase sung, chanted, and recited in the churches. You will hear it exchanged as an Easter greeting as people pass on the street: “L’amour de Dieu est folie!”—The love of God is folly. This truth reaches out to ragamuffins everywhere. May Jesus Christ convert us to the folly of the gospel.” – Brennan Manning, Ragamuffin Gospel