But…Who Do YOU Say I Am?

(Originally posted 1/22/2022)

You know the question – we all do. It’s the answer that we fear, that stymies us, that we avoid like a stalker on our social media accounts.

Jesus’ disciples were challenged by ”the” question, up close and personal, but skipped blindly past it, believing they belonged to an exclusive “Jesus Club” that exempted them from such a challenge.  They would post selfies with Jesus and then boast to their friends on Facebook.

They couldn’t wait for their ten-year high school reunion so they could counter the negative comments in their senior yearbook, “most likely to end up in jail” or “most likely to become a TV repairman living in their mother’s basement.” I think that one was about James and John because their mother boldly approached Jesus to ask him to get them both out of her hair! (Mark 10:35-45)

I imagine Jesus had to constantly pose that all-important question to them just to pull them back to reality, “Come on, guys, you dont get a pass on this. AGAIN…”Who Am I?”

It wasn’t just the disciples; every one of us has been challenged by that question that words cannot answer, but rather, by the very act of our day-to-day living. Still, we rarely get it right.

Recall that Jesus’ brothers (yes, he had some, and sisters too, get over it) often mocked and ridiculed him in front of others, “For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” (John 7:2-9) A bit of sibling rivalry? Possibly. Not surprising as he was the only one who never disobeyed or sinned. His brothers had to be jealous of that and how his admiring followers flocked to him wherever he went.

John Dominic Crossan gives us some fascinating insight into the thinking of the day,“…if you asked anyone in the Mediterranean world at the time of Jesus, “Who’s the Son of God, the Lord, the redeemer, the savior of the world?” everyone would’ve known immediately who you were talking about, and it sure wouldn’t have been Jesus.—it would have been Caesar Augustus.”

That’s right, and Caesar loved it. He was a master of propaganda and deceit and knew how to manipulate everyone, from the powerful to the lowliest pheasant. Because he was so skilled at deception, everyone loved him even though he was a dictator. Go figure.

Perhaps this understanding of the belief that Caesar Augustus was the Son of God made him a hard act for Jesus to follow. Who knows. Could Jesus have questioned his life’s purpose? There may be a hint of that here – Luke 22:42. We are so surprised when we read that he asked God to take away the suffering he knew he was about to experience.

And then, (I don’t pretend to know – I wasn’t there. So, don’t send me hate mail!) I’m imagining, almost as an AHA moment, after God revealed to him that, yes, this was still his purpose, people would soon discover who Jesus was.

We humans can get lost when we go down that rabbit hole of self-doubt. So many of us know the feeling of being “less than”. Right? It’s easy for us to buy into the lies that we are not good enough.

Michael Beckwith tells us, “There is a life occurrence or a sequence of events unique to each of us that breaks through our self-imposed limitations, our egoic self-will, beckoning the Authentic Self to come forward and announce itself to us….the wisdom in this grace knows exactly what conditions will cause us to exclaim, ‘Enough is enough. I give my consent to my next level of growth.’”

Stay with me here.

The title of my blog, “Passion, Purpose, and Poopyheads”, defines the struggles I have had trying to accept that I was gifted with passion and purpose –as we all are. The problem has always been the “poopyheads” that keep setting up roadblocks for me to stumble over.

What would our lives look like if we dared to pose the “who do you say I am” question back to God? Deep down, we yearn for the answer. It’s our greatest spiritual longing. “Who am I to you, Lord?” But his response can be drowned out by the voices of those who run roughshod over our hearts and muddy the pure waters of God’s immovable, unchangeable, immense love for us. He calls each of us his beloved, but we don’t believe it. Instead, we believe the lies of those who are just as broken as we are.

Picture this: you go to a new doctor and are ushered into his nurse’s station as she takes all your vital signs and then shoves you up on a scale. All the while, you cannot help but notice that she is obviously struggling with her health issues. Then, you sit for an eternity waiting for the doctor, who finally walks into the room, reeking of cigarette smoke and finishing up the last bite of a McDonald’s Big Mac – his lunch (gag me!). Will you trust anything he advises to keep you healthy when he clearly doesn’t follow that advice himself? Do you stay or run like hell? You decide for yourself, but I’m already in my car!

Now, let’s put that scenario into the context of this discussion of just who it is that Jesus says we are. Even though he repeatedly tells us the same thing, we choose to give full authority to the thoughts of others who are – well – screwed up. Mostly. Like us. Who are you going to trust?


But, alas, it’s 2022—a new year.

I’m going to speak for myself now. You’re welcome to tag along….

Let’s call it:

An ode to new beginnings that tell us endings are never final if you’re still breathing.

Last year was, hands down, one of my worst years ever, with Covid relegated to last place on my list of profoundly crappy moments. After losing my husband, I had to face the truth of a heart condition that I chose to ignore for years until it reared up and took a huge bite out of my…denial.

Both these profound life events were instrumental in creating my new reality: at my age, I am starting over in an uncertain and unfamiliar place. God has promised never to leave us, but he does not lay out our lives like a scavenger hunt. Unfortunately, that’s what we expect from him, and then we get tripped up every time we encounter any obstacles.

For most of my seventy-three years, I have not allowed the Creator of my destiny to guide me. Others would constantly butt in unsolicited and make huge messes in my life, like the bratty kid who knocks down all your Legos, so you have to start over!

So now, if I live as though I really believe that God is the only one I need to listen to and trust, then I will have no one else to blame if I fail to follow the path he has laid out for me. And there it is…TADA! It’s less scary and less demanding to keep doing what I have always done than expose myself to what God may be asking of me.

If I answer that question, “Who do you say I am?” honestly, that would naturally require me to change and release my grip on mediocrity because God doesn’t do mediocre. And how do I deal with that when I have been led to believe all my life that it’s the best I have to offer in a world that couldn’t care less? So with that mindset, why would I turn that question around and ask it of God? “Who do you say I am?” And then risk what that answer would demand of me?

How often have I thought God abandoned me because, in hindsight, a path he pointed me to seemed like a dead-end? Only to discover it offered a critical lesson I needed to learn before moving on. If I could just become more self-aware and present to God as I walk this uncertain path, whether I obtain clarity in the process or not, much of my angst and fear will surely turn into trust and a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). I’m working on that.

I have no idea what’s around the next corner for me, and frankly, I don’t need to know. I only know this: God is always with me. He is by my side. He is my biggest cheerleader. He forgives my stupidity and delights in giving me second chances. Yeah me!

At the end of the day, hopefully, he will welcome me home, where I will hear those immortal words, “Pretty well done, Linda. Not bad for a messy human.”  

Pretty well done indeed – I’ll take it!

Never, Never, Never Give Up

I know so many people, and I’ll bet you do too, perhaps even you yourself, who just can’t believe God has a plan for them. Over the years, I have encountered people who don’t believe me when I tell them my story. “Oh, really?! God told you to do that, huh?  Right!” To be honest, I wouldn’t have believed it myself if he hadn’t gradually brought me to a place where I could trust him even if I was fearful and had no idea what he was up to. For years, there were little promptings that, in hindsight, proved to me that he was on the job (Romans 8:28). Then bigger ones that required more trust; offered way more grace than I deserved, and opened my heart more than I could have imagined.

God was always longing to grow me into the person he meant for me to be. It was me resisting; me not being present to him; me missing the mystery and majesty that surrounded me because I was just too busy to notice, or more likely, too afraid. Instead I skipped along trying to drown out his voice, “Lalalalalalalala I can’t hear you!”

We can be so enmeshed in, and blinded by, the things of this world we miss out on our whole purpose for being here. If you are going through life day-after-unremarkable-day; schlepping through the same routine to ad nauseum – STOP IT! Your life has a purpose people…you matter that much!

We are all called to holiness; called to use the gifts and talents already given us for God’s kingdom work right here – right now. It just takes awareness on our part. (I would highly recommend Anthony DeMello’s book by the same name, Awareness).

Leo Tolstoy’s  novel, “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”,  considered a masterpiece, was written just after his own “profound spiritual awakening” and conversion experience. While lying on his deathbed, Ilyich ruminated about the reality that his entire life was superficial and self-serving and he profoundly stated, “Maybe I didn’t live as I should have done!”At the end, he posited a question that Tolstoy must have pondered himself, “What if I really have been wrong in the way I’ve lived my whole life, my conscious life?” Oops, a little late buddy!

“Hell begins on the day when God grants us a clear vision of all that we might have achieved, of all the gifts which we have wasted, of all that we might have done which we did not do” Gian Carlo Menotti

It  was too late for Ilyich, but not Tolstoy. He discovered his purpose and rejected his aristocratic life to follow Jesus’ teachings – in particular – the Sermon on the Mount. Years later, his writings also had a profound impact on Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and countless others.

Soooooo, what are you waiting for? You must still be breathing or you wouldn’t be reading this. That’s a start. Incredibly, no matter how you lived your life to this point, it’s not too late to begin again. New beginnings are God’s specialty! He has proven that through the lives of every misfit from Moses to this ole grandma – To infinity and beyond!  God coined that phrase you know. Don’t believe me? HUMPH! Check out Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

Alrighty then, you’re pumped and ready to go, right? You’re packing your sandals and camel hair coat and checking Google Maps… for what? A sign from God?

Stop! Take a deep breath. Maybe start by sitting quietly with God and waiting.

Don’t look to anyone to give you a formula or a check list to send you on your way to sainthood. But, I will tell you this: You cannot love and serve others (which is our greatest calling) until you are able to love yourself. And you can’t love yourself by means of any of the myriad of self-help books on the market. You can only do that by growing in the knowledge that you are deeply and passionately loved first by the God who created you! And you can only do that by being in relationship with him, which requires your time.

You are his son/daughter with whom he is well-pleased (Matthew 17:5). Let that sink in. We are deeply loved sinners. It’s high time we act like it, don’t you think?

We are so used to being in a world that is loud and demanding of our attention, especially today. We even busy ourselves filling in uncomfortably quiet places. That’s how we miss God’s “still small voice” or “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12). Sure, he’s good at those show-stopper whirlwinds and earthquakes and fire. Even what I have called 2×4 moments, but they didn’t leave marks like the ones my mother inflicted. Because of her I was always on guard for those “laying down the law” whacks that I expected from God too when I messed up. But, I believe he more often speaks through Spirit – whispers of pure grace.

Now, though I still mess up – and often – I know God’s response is out of love for me; his admonitions tell me that he loves me too much to let me stay stuck in the muck.

Absolutely, go to church, take the time to read scripture, and pray, But mostly...LISTEN! Geeeezzzzz, we’re so bad at listening.

God’s Full Refund Offer

You can return any gift from God, no questions asked


It seems like such a stretch – no – an impossibility, for us to accept what God desires from us and for us.  Not a list of commands we can tick off like the rich guy in Matthew (19:16), not a quick rote prayer on our way to more important things, not a list of complaints we keep bringing to him until they are heard and remedied.

And so, here we are, stuck in our miserable small lives, blaming our unhappiness on God or some inept human and demanding the universe be reordered in our favor! 

We seem oblivious to life’s special moments with friends and loved ones, majestic sunsets, breathtaking rainbows, and, most of all, a magnificent life full of richness and purpose.  All planned out for us by a God who doesn’t do ordinary and never did.

Afraid of intimacy

Do you ever think about why we stay stuck there?  I believe we are afraid of intimacy.  Deny it, poo-poo it, thumb your nose at it, but think about it.  Keeping ourselves at arm’s length from a relationship with God and others requires nothing from us.  Intimacy is too scary.  But surprisingly, it too makes no demands.  By its nature, it cannot demand.

Intimacy is the love relationship modeled for us by the Father and his beloved Son through the work of the Spirit.  It is self-emptying and gratuitous.  It seeks the best for others over our own wants and needs.  It is life-giving, and it is what God longs for with every one of us.  He beacons us into a relationship with him, and he will court, swoon, and get all mushy over us until we let go of our fears.  

Afraid of vulnerability

But intimacy requires trust and vulnerability; we’re terrified of being vulnerable and exposing our weaknesses.  Yeah, I tried that once.  No thanks.  

If we could realize that vulnerability is not a character flaw to be conquered.  It is integral to our relationship with God and is meant to be transforming.  It means accepting and loving who we truly are, sins and all.  It is birthed in the grace of God, not shame.

We continually believe that we’re not good enough, not perfect enough, not “holy” enough. Who told us that? I can think of several people, beginning with my parents, especially my mother. Unfortunately, countless more people have been eager to reinforce that lie over the years. When you think about it, it’s amazing that we allow other broken people to define us and determine our worth. Then point to them when we try to prove to God that we are not worthy of love.

Truth be told, it’s the ego that holds us back, which is a paradox, actually. The ego is our sacred cow. And yet, we live this meager, paltry, desolate life tethered to our fears while pumping up our false selves for display to anyone who threatens our fragile sense of self.  

I wasted so many years trying to defend myself against the lies and blamed God for all my misery. In my lowest moments, I accused Him of not caring, “If you loved me, where were you when I needed you?! What was I supposed to think when You were silent while my mother abused me?”  More silence. “Yeah, I thought so.” Then, proving my point, I could go off and do what I pleased. You’re on your own, Linda.  

I’m pretty sure God was silent in those moments because he knew I was a hot mess, that my heart was too closed off to hear him. I wasn’t interested in healing. I just wanted him to bring down fire and brimstone on everyone else.

Fear denies us a loving, generous, merciful, forgiving, extraordinary relationship with God, and in turn, with others. Instead, we settle for crumbs. We live in defiance of our truth because it seems impossible to believe God would really “desire” our broken, self-centered, imperfect selves. What Glennon Doyle calls “this crappy version of ourselves”. Instead of embracing it, we give up trying because it’s just too hard to be the flawless human we’ve been led to believe God requires. We’re certain that we are a disappointment to him. That he’s tallying up all our transgressions. It’s really annoying.

Fear has a source that God continually warns us about. I love this quote from John Eldridge:

Our capacity to love is innate

When we don’t believe in our blessedness, we begin to doubt and fear.  So, how do we get beyond that?  How do we learn to embrace; to love what God sees in us?  Perhaps we should start with this truth: Even if your parents failed to love you well, it’s okay.  You are okay because you already possessed an innate capacity to love and be loved before God formed you in your mother’s womb.  

Our mothers, no matter if they love us well or totally suck at nurturing, are not the creators of our essence.  That distinction is God’s alone.  Got that?  Let that soak in.

And the journey begins

I was able to begin my long road to change when I came face-to-face with this God who seems to forget our offenses even when we can’t.  Not a change that signifies accomplishment but change that begins with me embracing my messiness, brokenness, and imperfections.

One of my most powerful moments of growth came when I realized that my mother, my mean, abusive mother, was loved by God.  But, sadly, she was never able to grasp her truth.  When I was younger, I hated her and told her so.  I believe she lived and died, never knowing the person God longed for her to accept and embrace as his beloved daughter.  

What I wouldn’t give to have her back.  What I wouldn’t give to offer her the forgiveness and love that I now know.  But when she was alive, I was too lost and broken myself.  God knows that, and he has been relentlessly pursuingmy heart so that I could forgive myself and offer his love to others.  

I honestly feel that the moment I could forgive my mom, even though it was long after she died, that our spirits connected, and that mysterious, mystical love of God transcended all our barriers and healed our hearts.  I could deeply sense it even though I couldn’t explain it.  But, of course, as soon as you try to “explain” mystery, it is no longer mystery.

God’s love resides in the depth of our hearts

When we allow ourselves to open our hearts to God, the magic begins.  Suddenly, our worldly longings don’t seem so significant.  We stop demanding anything from anyone, ourselves included.  If we can get just a tiny taste of the peace and indescribable joy God will bring to our lives when just sitting in his presence becomes everything, it is equivalent to heaven because it is heaven.

Jesus said to all with ears to hear, which has never been many, “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (my emphasis).  Luke 17:21.  You don’t have to strive for it or wait until you “get to heaven, to experience it

Wake up!

Saint Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive”.  Conversely, the joy of Satan is man sound asleep.  Are we even aware that there is a battle raging in our hearts that is continuous and unrelenting?  Jesus warned about it, but we’re not listening because we don’t think it applies to us.  

How much of Scripture do you believe is meant for us today; is intended to be a guidepost for how we should live and move and have our being?  And how much do we toss away as irrelevant?  That, my friends, is Satan at his most cunning.  Like that pesky snake in the garden, “Oh, come on, you don’t really believe all that stuff do you?!  God wants you to have a fun-filled life with no worries! Party on, munchkins”.

Jesus warned his followers then and warns us now, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they (you and me included) may have life and have it to the full”.  John 10:10. Do you feel like you’re living your fullest life possible?  Or does it feel like one hurdle after another to overcome so many barriers, heartaches, and detours that wear you down?

God’s Challenge

“Try me out for thirty days.  When you arise in the morning, come talk to me first.  Read some Scripture, tell me what’s on your mind, what breaks your heart.  You may already be doing that, but I would ask you to go deeper because this is where it gets real.  Give me ten or fifteen quiet minutes without expecting anything.  Then, if you don’t feel something stirring within you (by the way, that would be me), I will give you your miserable life back!  What do you say?” – God

I see you there, thinking, “Yeah, been there, done that, and got lost in a maze of “rules and regulations” along the way.  But I’m busy, and this is complicated.  Can you just give me the bullet points?”

I think we have the notion that God doesn’t understand our obsession with bullet points in our hurried life.  Look how we are drawn to articles that provide 5 Easy Steps to _________ (fill in the blank).  Four would be even better.  Just get to the point!  

Actually, he did.  Perhaps he made it too easy, and we can’t wrap our minds around something so simple.  Ready?

1 Easy Step to permanent peace and joy:

  • “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 – Any questions?

Do You Want to be Made Well – or What?

(Originally posted 5/8/2012)

John (5:-5-6) is such a challenging question, “Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’”

(Artist: Marten de Vos)

REALLY!? Come on. Why would he ask that? Jesus could end thirty-eight years of misery for this guy in a heartbeat! Is there any possibility that he would say “no”? Well, yes, there is. I know that for a fact because I have said “no” to God longer than that! I turned my back on him and suffered a life of emptiness for years. Truth be told, I still suffer the consequences whenever I close my heart to God and choose to go my own way.

I was angry and self-indulgent (I often still am). My faith was shallow and lifeless (it, maybe not so often, still is). I continually picked at the scabs of the wounds inflicted by others, refusing to forgive and, at the same time, denying my own sinfulness (yeah, you guessed it – still doing that).

As I listened to God’s word and began to meet some faithful Christians, I became aware of an unexplainable longing in my heart. That was God, though I didn’t realize it at the time. I found myself getting bolder at reaching out to trust him. Though I still considered myself unworthy of anyone’s love, especially God’s.

I was also learning to become a better parent. I believe God intended for the parenting skills he taught to be passed down from generation to generation, but some of us have to look elsewhere for guidance. As much as I resented my mother for abusing me, and as determined as I was not to be like her…I was. Her way was the only way I knew. But then God gave me lessons in “Parenting 101” through others in my life.

However, as I poured more of myself into my children, a new reality was setting in. My husband and I were headed for disaster. I begged him to look honestly at our relationship while refusing to do it myself. I prayed we could work harder to mend our hurts and strengthen our marriage. But my pleading fell on deaf ears, and my fears were becoming a reality.

One by one, our kids were leaving home, and my husband and I became lost in the deafening silence of our empty nest. So after much thought, counseling, and prayer, I made the heart-wrenching decision to leave. It was probably the most challenging decision of my life! I had no idea what the outcome would be. I will say this in hindsight; I know I did not sense God was approving my decision or telling me to leave. But I am sure he intended to use this new reality “for his good”. (Genesis 50:20)

So, off I went. I decided to go to Kentucky to volunteer for an organization that worked with the poor in Appalachia. Before I left home, I prayed a prayer that I had never prayed before, that God would change me, not every other person in my life, but ME! God was just giddy with excitement! And, oh, the lessons I was about to learn!

How can I describe to you the soul-cleansing I experienced during that time, what those eight months were like for me? Every single day seemed to bring to light another of Linda’s issues to deal with. I didn’t enjoy confronting my pride, anger, and resentfulness. As a matter of fact, it was, in essence, like being in hard labor – for eight months. Non-stop. With no anesthetic!

“Come on, breathe for me,” says the doctor. “Breathe for me? I’ll give you breathe for me! How about if you try to breathe for me while my hands are around your neck, choking you? How about that?” (Oh, sorry, I must have been having a flashback.)

Anyway, for the first time in my life, my longings, my brokenness, and my hope that maybe I was worthy of love were laid bare. God was beginning to change my heart, though I hardly knew all the implications of that at the time. It was a beautiful example of how he can work in our lives when we “allow” him to do what only he can. All of my past attempts to change failed because I tried to do things my own faulty way, refusing to yield my will to his.

Sheer desperation began leading me to accept whatever God deemed necessary to change my life. No strings attached, that would allow me to yank control back if things became too hard or too painful. I would resist the impulse to switch to an easier route, though that’s how I reacted in the past when I was afraid. And what did I receive in return? Oh, not much…just a new relationship with God, my family, my husband of forty-three years, a purpose that fulfills me, and the joyful hope that endures, even during the most challenging times. In short – an abundant life I could never have imagined on that fateful day I left home.

John 10:10 says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.”

The fulfillment we seek can seem elusive. It can be confused with something as insignificant as a new outfit or something as unattainable as somebody else’s life. When we’re removed from our groundings and feel overpowered by our struggles, God reminds us that we’re right where he wants us. In our brokenness is where we’ll learn to be most like him. That’s where we discover that our joy cannot be stolen unless we allow people or circumstances, rather than God, to define us. Coming to grips with that truth will open us to the fullness of life.

In his most beautiful book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen enfleshes all that I have experienced, all that I have been so afraid to admit or even look at honestly. His vulnerability and openness about his own struggles give others the courage to trust that when Jesus comes to us and asks, “Do you want to be made well”? Our “yes” can be the beginning of more than we could ever imagine or hope for. (Ephesians 3:20)

Nouwen talks about his “coming home”; about being in his Father’s embrace, “I so much want to be, but am so fearful of being…It is the place where I have to let go of all I most want to hold on to….It is the place that confronts me with the fact that truly accepting love, forgiveness, and healing is often much harder than giving it. It is the place of surrender and complete trust.” I believe Henri Nouwen would agree that it is where God’s call and our self-emptying “yes” meet in the fullness of his grace.

All these years later, I’m still being challenged daily, and I don’t always respond as I should. My sinfulness is constantly a force to be reckoned with. After all, I’m still a messy human being. But I know God longs for us to claim the gift of his extravagant love amid all our messiness. If we only look within ourselves, we can see what is already there. We can become who we already are. God offers that joy to all of us. All we have to do is claim it. When Jesus asks, “Do you want to be made well”? – and your answer is finally “yes”, strap yourself in for the ride of your life!

Believe You Are Enough

Here’s a challenge: How about some honest soul-searching? Come on – stay with me – it’ll be fun! Okay, it probably won’t be fun if we are actually honest. But let’s give it a go.

I’ll start.

For most of my life, I have not allowed myself to admit I screw-up. Doing things like making instant judgments about other people or becoming a modern-day Job when God seems to be pushing my buttons or ignoring my demands. I decide daily how things should be and then set out to make myself, you, and God conform. It’s a full-time job, and it’s exhausting. Oh, wait! Maybe I don’t have to tell you. Perhaps you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I should, you should, we should, they should, trees should, rocks should, animals should, the weather should, God should. My boss should be nicer, my kids should be more respectful, my husband should do the laundry, I should let go of that hurt – NAH.

Have I left anything out? We are obsessed with shoulds and calculate daily, almost moment-by-moment, what should be. Then we adjust our lives accordingly.

What if we were given the power to enact all the most significant shoulds we have ever envisioned? What would they be? This is pretty broad, so let’s make three categories:

  • My shoulds.
  • Everyone else’s shoulds.
  • God’s shoulds

Let’s begin with these:

My shoulds:

  • I should be thinner, smarter, prettier, and healthier; exercise more and eat less.
  • I should be more forgiving and less judgmental.
  • I should spend less time on the internet and more time with God.
  • I should quit counting offenses against me and begin counting my blessings.
  • I should be perfect by now.
  • Chocolate should not be fattening (it’s my list!)

Everyone else’s shoulds:

  • People should be more generous and less self-serving.
  • Wicked people should be blown up. (Oops, too extreme?)
  • Wicked people should be allergic to chocolate. (Better?)
  • People should love and accept each other.
  • People should mind their own business.
  • People should be more like me. Then we’ll all be fine!

God’s shoulds:

  • God should not allow suffering – especially for Christians.
  • God should punish all evil, sinful people – except me.
  • God should make people behave.
  • There should be some reward for those who are good…like…hum…I know! Chocolate would not be fattening for us – no one else – just us!

God created everything, and when he was finished, he said, “I’m pretty awesome – even if I do say so myself”. “Well, okay, I could have tweaked that goofy Linda a bit (I won’t be making another one of those any time soon).” Think about it. As soon as God created everything on the earth, he declared it “good”. He doesn’t wait until we prove ourselves for him to admire his work.

And there it is, people! Even though God was perfectly happy about his creation, he was also well aware of the likely outcome of giving us mortals a free will. “I made everything perfect, then you guys screwed it up just as I thought you would. So I made love and forgiveness my signature MO. Try not to abuse it, ok?”

No one is without fault. Romans 3:10-12 tells us, “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who does good, no, not one.” Not one stinkin’ one of us.


Why is that so hard for us to accept? I believe I know. It’s probably because we are unwilling to be vulnerable or dare to be imperfect. I know. I have lived most of my life refusing to believe the simple truth that I AM ENOUGH, which, in turn, does not allow me to accept you as enough.

God tells us that we should have the faith of a child. Unfortunately, as a child, I was made to believe, by those who were supposed to take care of my tender heart, that I was not good enough, not worthy of love. I eventually stopped allowing myself to be vulnerable and tried desperately to hide as much of my imperfections as possible. I still do at times.

I could not accept my own brokenness or the brokenness of others. I viewed everyone and everything through that lens, even God. Everyone was suspect. This is the false self Richard Rohr speaks of often, “The false self is your psychological creation of yourself in space and time. It comes from your early conditioning, family, roles, education, mind, culture, and religion. The false self is who you think you are! But thinking doesn’t make it so. The false self dies and passes away. Yet it is the raw material through which you discover your True Self in God.”

As I began to sit in prayer with God, I gradually grew to realize that he could be trusted with my fragile heart – and it began to change. I grew to recognize that he not only admonished me for my sinfulness but loved me in spite of it. I began to love and accept myself and others in a way I had never experienced before. As I let go of the hurt and pain of my past, others began to lose their stronghold on me.

Now, Saint Mother Theresa, I am not. DUH! I still do, and am sure I always will screw up.

The Spirit of God lives and works and has its being within us 24/7. Not just when it’s convenient for us. Of course, we would prefer God be “on-call” because the idea of him“hanging out” there conjures up all kinds of frightful thoughts. Being “busted” comes to mind for me.


Here’s what happens when you arrive at the place where you can hear God’s still small voice through the thunder of your own wretchedness. Often, I will become defensive with someone and strike out at them to preserve my fragile ego. Usually, it looks like this, “You idiot! You ________(fill in the blank)”. There, I got it out. I’m feeling better already. Never mind how it made you feel!

Then it comes, almost immediately, “So, Linda…yeah…what he/she did was pretty stupid (my ego still intact at this point. A bit of gloating showing through.)”. But…

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

“But, Linda. Remember, just last week when you did the exact same thing?” Shoot! Busted! “Lord, why couldn’t you be somewhere else right now instead of all up in my business?” And off I go to apologize. But it’s okay. I can now laugh at myself and carry on. We have to laugh at ourselves, or this whole business of acceptance fails to work because we become too overwhelmed with our failures.

Let’s call it getting back to basics. God calls us to the childlike innocence, love, and joy he originally created. Children are full of contagious laughter, silliness, trusting innocence, vulnerability, and curiosity.

If you have expectations for yourself and others that are beyond human capacity, you will always be disappointed. We are all broken and incapable of being the perfect parent or child or friend or neighbor. God calls us in our suffering to lean in on him and draw life and fullness from him. Understanding that helped me to forgive my mother long ago. As a child, I hated her; as I grew older, being honest, I realized she did the best she could. She was simply incapable of being the mother I needed her to be.

So, cut yourself and others some slack. Like Father Rohr says, “Once we have learned to discern the real and disguised nature of both good and evil, we recognize that everything is broken and fallen, weak and poor—while still being the dwelling place of God….That is not a put-down of anybody or anything, but actually creates the freedom to love imperfect things! As Jesus told the rich young man, “God alone is good!” (Mark 10:18)

So, come on, let’s begin with a simple step: laugh at yourself at least once today and then sit down for a while, be quiet, and contemplate the experience in the context of the imperfection of all things. Let me know how that turns out.