Guess post by Shawn Meagher
Anxiety is a very powerful thing. It can grip us and take hold of us. It says to us that we will fail, we will falter, we are broken, and we are unlovable. And as a matter of fact much of that statement is true; because you and I are human. We do fail. We will certainly falter. And each of us is broken in our own sinfulness. However, the temptation that you are unlovable is the fallacy in that statement. You are lovable. Or more importantly… you are loved. In this moment, as you have always been from the moment of your conception, you are loved.
In my own life the struggle with anxiety has been a cross to bear; and more specifically the battle with scrupulosity has weighed heavily on me. For the scrupulous person, there can exist a particularly difficult spiritual struggle. The compulsion to see a sin that doesn’t exist and the anxiety over misplaced guilt can become overwhelming. We can often believe the lie that God is a vengeful and this causes us to pull away from Him. We pull inward, believing that we must make ourselves worthy of God’s love; believing the lie that we are responsible to save ourselves.
And that is simply what this fear is, a deception from the Enemy. And in a way, it would be very easy to find this deception believable if God were simply an abstract, created concept. When the ancient Greeks and Romans created their mythological gods, they were not all-loving, and all-forgiving. They were merely more powerful men and women (and yes weird flute playing goat-men…). These were not revealed, living beings; they were creatures of the fallen, human mind. How could one come to know a God so loving, so holy? Perhaps one could imagine it, but without God’s revelation how could we come to know such a being as our Creator and Ruler?
And to that I posit that we cannot. We couldn’t possibly begin to scratch the surface of God unless he reveals himself to us! And he has, this is how we know him; through his love. When we know that Christ was given up for us and died on the Cross, we must remember! It must register in us the hope and the knowledge that we cannot save ourselves. Because if we could, then we would not have needed Him to bear the weight of our sins in that perfect sacrifice.
We mustn’t try to make ourselves worthy of his love and forgiveness. Instead we must go to Him with haste, because He is burning to heal us. He never grows tired of forgiveness, because he never ceases to love us. And we must remember that each one of us will continually fight a spiritual battle in our lifetime; but God always desires to pick us back up.
It is a very easy thing to be caught in one’s own pride, shutting out others, believing no one could understand one’s own pain. And in doing so, turn inward upon oneself, leaving one in what the philosopher Jean-Luc Marion describes as a state of self-hatred, where ultimately one cannot love himself as he sees his brokenness. But instead, if we recognize that one’s strength comes from the perfect love that is given to us by God, we are given the perfect example of love. And with that example we are taught how to love others. And with that love we have the capacity to help our brothers and sisters in their own battle. In turn, my brothers and sisters in Christ have loved me and helped carry my cross.
J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote in a letter: “What punishments of God are not gifts?” We all have crosses to carry, but no one is alone in their struggle. If we can perhaps think as God does, we will see that these crosses are capable of being great instruments of love towards our brothers and sisters. They allow us to see others in a new light, one where we are acutely aware of the love God has for us in our brokenness. And through that perfect example of love we are shown how those punishments of God are gifts.