I have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately. If you aren’t aware, I’ve been struggling with depression since crashing sometime in the summertime. I am back on some antidepressants and while they are helping me, I’ve been doing some work in analyzing and working through my belief system. What do I believe? Why? What is my “inner critic” saying and why should I listen or not listen to it? What’s the voice of grace saying? How can I be the hard-working person I want to be if I release my inner drive towards “success” and high expectations (which I ultimately fail to achieve)?
The night before last, my sister gave me a wonderful analogy. She shared how when she was in ballet, her instructor worked and worked with her to release a certain muscle she was holding tight. When she finally figured out how to relax it… it felt like she was doing… nothing. It felt strange and wrong. She did figure out how to use the other muscles to do the job the best way. When I try to “release” or relax my personal expectations and my “drive” to be the best, it feels like I’m doing nothing. I need to find the other muscles, the other drive that is healthy and doesn’t beat me down with judgement and condemnation.
Brian suggested that the other drive… is love.
He gave me the picture of a courtroom and reminded me of the name of the prosecutor, Satan. He reminded me who my defender is: Jesus. My new drive somehow stems from this courtroom scene. Somehow, my new internal motivation is love for my Redeemer. Out of these thoughts, I wrote the following story. The process of writing this story, which poured out of me without effort and yet left me breathless at the end felt like… it felt like a conversation with God.
God’s Story to Me
I am in a courtroom and I am being judged. Am I worthy? Am I a failure? There is one in the prosecutor’s seat who knows my faults, my sins, my secrets. He exposes everything that I am ashamed of and declares my corruption to the One who created me. I know what justice deserves and I do not fight it. I am ashamed. I am crushed and destroyed. I cannot remember hope.
Then One stands beside me in the place of defense. I do not stand, but look up in surprise at His face. His face pains me. It carries the weight of sorrow and grief, the marks of my anger and rebellion. It is both marred and healed, sorrowful, yet rejoicing. He is too beautiful for words and I love Him. I love Him.
He speaks first to the judge without looking at me. He denies no charge put against me, but instead takes them and their weight… and destroys them with the words, “It is finished.” He had done it. He had borne every punishment already and had every authority to grant my release. He had plans for me, He said, plans that I could not conceive. They were beautiful and wonderful and tailored just for me. Would I consent to accept His offer and follow Him? Would I leave the prosecutor behind and follow Him?
I cried with my love for Him. But I felt no worthiness in myself for His offer. The prosecutor shook his head at me and I knew, I knew that he would follow me, offering a litany of my charges to all who would listen… myself included. My shoulders sagged. And I glanced up one last time at the Defender, my blessed Jesus. Oh! His eyes. His eyes! The tender, welcoming love. The understanding and the compassion. And the open arms that I fell into.
“Hold me, Lord!,” I cried, throwing myself at His mercy, ungainly and desperately clinging to Him. I heard the muffled protest of Satan, but Jesus silenced him with a look. The judge banged his gavel and cried, “Not guilty!” Satan’s accusations went unheard and ignored by the Judge. Jesus spoke to me. He said, “beloved,” and “worthy.” He called me “beautiful,” “holy,” and “blessed.” He wrote my name down in His personal book and called me “daughter,” “sister,” and “bride.” I was His and He was mine.
But my life was not over. It was not time for the wedding. We were betrothed, but I was not prepared for our wedding. “Get ready, beautiful,” He said. “Follow this path I have laid for you. It will be easy and it will be hard. It will be plain and it will be confusing. But keep walking. I am waiting for you at the end, my darling.”
“Don’t go away!” I cried, desperate to remain in His arms. “Love me,” He said, “and do what I ask. It is for your good or I would not ask it.” “But it’s too hard!” I cried again. “I will never forsake you. Trust me.,” He whispered, touching my cheek. “We’ll be together again before you know it. Don’t give up.”
And He kissed me. Gently. Purely. His lips brought life and His Spirit settled into my soul. He caressed my face, squeezed my hand and beckoned towards the path. And with a deep breath, I set off. I could not see Him. I walked. I walked by faith.
Hebrews 11:1 KJV
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen.
Hebrews 11:1 NLT
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.