It’s been a minute since I posted a highly controversial post. It’s about time for another. Ready for some new age psychobabble?
What if, since God is “in” us, the way to find hope, peace, connection, confidence, creativity, and courage, really is “looking within”? What if I find myself by soul-digging inside of my very core?
I can feel the blood rising.
But I’m beginning to be highly convinced.
I have spent a lot of my life (pretty much ever since the age where I realized real self-awareness… that would probably be a good decade plus ago) frowning upon my own actions–similar to Paul when he says “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Shame on you, BethAnn, for not helping wash the dishes, for not playing more games with your siblings, for not being more cheery, for not having a better attitude, for skipping a day of thankful journaling. Shame, shame, shame!
Brrrriiinnnng. It’s my heart calling, she says she wants to talk with me. Danger! Danger! Red flags! …and sirens! Hang up! Now!
And then it’s no wonder that I have written multiple blog posts on the danger of following your heart! I am always doing wrong and I am always criticizing myself and I am constantly running away from myself and my sin.
I hear the familiar church saying “If God feels distant, he hasn’t moved. Who has?” And I raise my hand, jump out of my seat, shout “I’m coming!” as I try to move back in the direction of God, always dragging my sinful heart and it’s sinful desires around with me like a ball and chain.
I’m reading a new life-changing book, “Altogether You.” And like every other book I’ve mentioned in the past, this is definitely a must-read as well. The author, Jenna Riemersma, explains my conundrum in bolder words than I would use, but accurate nonetheless.
“If my idea of God is that my huge pile of sin is standing in the way of [resting in His presence and favor], I just might give up and go have a latte. Because my pile is huge. And I don’t have a shovel that big.
Just between you and me, I think this is how many of us see God. God Over There. Or Up There somewhere. Definitely nowhere near that awful pile of my sin…”
God is in us.
Intellectually, I know that is true. But, as I’ve learned from my therapist, what my brain thinks doesn’t actually translate over to what my heart feels. So, even if I know God is right here, right with me, if I’m being honest, the perspective of “God Over There or Up There Somewhere” is quite what my cowering heart feels.
Jenna goes on to claim “Sin [is] not powerful enough to destroy the God image.” Woah. That really put my intellect and my emotions at war. My head knows with 100% confidence that God is bigger than sin. But my heart feels, very strongly, that sin has tainted me into a warped, sinful, creature. That I am defined by my sin. That my sinful nature has tsunamied over my God-image.
Now, Jenna goes on, it’s true that our sin can hijak us and separate us from the God-image in us. Our sin and our emotions can flood us in such a way that we don’t feel connected to God in us.
No sin, no evil, is big enough to tell God where to go.
So I can rest assured that I have a sin nature. Goodness knows I’m aware of that.
Yet I can also rest assured that no degree of sin nature is powerful enough to kick God-image out of my system. So when I hate my body and don’t feel good enough. When I am angry because I feel rejected. When I am so ashamed of wanting to control others, I don’t have to hate on myself and scream at my heart to let me go so I can start the process of digging through that impossible pile of *insert favorite descriptive noun here.* I don’t have to knock my heart senseless so it’ll stop talking so I can push my way toward God.
Because God is still in me. God is right there. In my mess. Right. Here. With. Me.
And he still sees me as made in His image. And he loves it. And if I sit in that truth, if I let myself wonder into my own soul, if I embrace the very core of who I am (and who’s image I’m made in), I think I will have a sense of his presence. Because, no matter what shame chooses to preach at me, I don’t think God is trying to hide.
The concept gives the word “Immanuel” a whole new power.