In all transparency, today has felt somewhat like a journey into Hell.
Relational/friendship stuff, unexpected tax issues (a notice from the IRS, which turned out to be fairly benign – but required my time to address), and painful remarks from a family member (who does not want me around at all right now) made a painful, stressful combination.
Top it off with sleep deprivation and health issues (which mercifully, have been a little better lately, but are still present).
Last night, a family member informed me that they felt like they were “about to vomit” having another person (me) in the room (I was just sitting there, in that room. We weren’t even talking or interacting. There was even a physical barrier between us).
And then today, another comment (similar in tone – though more cutting – and slightly different in substance) was made by this same family member, and I was “told” to leave the room (again, I hadn’t even been interacting with them).
While I felt compassion for this person – because I understand what it’s like to desire more privacy – the comments really hurt, because I wasn’t trying to be a nuisance, and also had just as much “right” to be in that room as they did.
What hurts most, though, is that this is a family member with whom I am often close (our relationship does ebb and flow).
In those moments, I felt much like a parasite – unworthy, unwanted, and repulsive by my very existence.
But I have to remember it’s not me. It’s not personal. The harsh treatment isn’t even about me.
The same comment would have been made to anyone who’d been in my place.
This person has pain they’re working through, independent of me. Needs that need to be met, and which various humans at various times happen to meet or violate simply by being present. The presence of other people – almost any people – is often seen as a threat to their recovery.
I bear the weight of a problem that is not my own.
I hurt for them, but just because I see them hurting doesn’t mean I should allow myself to feel responsible for their pain.
I am comforted (in a sad but sweet way) in remembering that Jesus, too, bore the sins of others – sins that were not his own – and which had nothing to do with him.
Everyone thought he was the problem.
Yet Jesus, unlike me, had never actually sinned.
He was God, in human form. Pure love, pure holiness.
Yet he was broken for the broken.
He lovingly bore the weight of transgressions that weren’t his.
He was falsely portrayed as a sinner.
The God of the universe – the Creator of all things, falsely accused.
So much hate and wrath poured out on him. My problems. Your problems.
And yet, Jesus humbly took them on as his own. He didn’t even fight for himself, although he certainly had the right and the ability to do so.
Instead, he “took the hit” for us in love.
He bore our burdens so that we could be set free.
And when we do the same with others, that gives them a little taste of the love of Jesus. The love that God has for us.
When we bear the burdens of others, we help to set them free.
My dear family member who made these cutting remarks is, in fact, presently struggling to grasp the concept of love. Unconditional, pure love that asks nothing in return and is not selfishly motivated.
I want to attempt to show them a taste of that love. Which…is easier said than done.
It’s easy to “love” someone who is always kind to you and cares for your needs as much as you care for theirs.
The real test of love is when it’s unmerited or unnatural. But showing love in these circumstances is the realest, purest kind of love. Perhaps it is the only true form of love.
The truth is, I don’t deserve love either. But I’ve been given an immense (infinite, in fact) measure of love from Jesus, who bore my sin as his own, gave me new life, and has given me his Holy Spirit to strengthen, encourage, convict, and heal me. I am loved beyond measure.
Apart from the strength and power of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Christ – I won’t be able to demonstrate that kind of love to others at all.
It’s a daily battle. The more I live in – and for – my flesh, the harder it is to love.
I’ll have to lean into him, and remember that those arms that hold me were also nailed to a beam of wood 2000 years ago – in love for me. Bearing my sins.
Love that I didn’t earn.
Love that was not selfishly motivated.
Love that cost him everything.
On this Good Friday, it seems I’ve been granted a very small taste of the anguish Christ experienced on the cross, and on the road to it.
Christ was unwanted. His presence was undesired. People wanted him dead. They hated his existence. They demanded his crucifixion.
Jesus had many enemies.
Even though he was perfect, he was accused of many wrongs, and seen as the chief of sinners (even in the eyes of God – when he took the whole world’s sins upon himself on the cross, and the Father looked away).
Even as he was sacrificing himself and seeking only to help and to love, he was rejected, misunderstood, and cruelly punished by the very people he came to serve and save.
Those who seek to follow him will share in his suffering, but will also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:17)
How’s your Good Friday gone? Perhaps you’ve experienced suffering of your own. Perhaps you, too, have tasted some of the anguish of Christ – have fellowshipped with him in his pain.
Or perhaps today has been a day of rejoicing for you. There is no shame in that. 🙂 Today is indeed a joyful day. We remember Christ’s sacrifice, which forever blotted out the guilt of the world.
“It is finished.”
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