You are ready to impart to others.
I have been wrestling with this idea since I encountered it in a devotional last December. As an Enneagram 1, I demand perfection out of myself and often out of those around me. (The Enneagram has been an incredibly useful tool to help me discern when I am listening to my ego voice as the voice of God. I am learning how to release the need for perfection in others, yet I still have a long way to go in the amount of grace I give myself. I encourage you to check out the Enneagram for yourself if you are not already familiar with it.)
Being a health coach with enduring health issues of my own has always made me feel like a bit of a fraud. I will talk more about this in future blog posts coming soon. Am I really ready to impart to others when I have struggles of my own? Don't I have to have it all figured out first? I used to tell myself that I had to have life and health perfectly together and under control or my counsel to others would be meaningless. When something was out of place or a struggle, I felt like a failure in everything. Over the last six months of the most significant trials of my life, I am beginning to see just how damaging expecting perfection out of myself is to my mental, physical and spiritual health as well as to the people in my life.
I have gone underground the last 6 months as my flawed way of living in this world has been laid bare. My attempts to protect myself and my world have been proven inadequate and destructive to myself and those around me. I have been exposed, felt naked, ashamed, scared, broken, and torn apart. These six months have required me to lean not on my own understanding but to draw from patient study of God's word and my crying out to God for answers, direction and protection.
As I have learned and come to know God personally, I see Him as all powerful, yes, but in a new way that perhaps is the most transformative of all — as all vulnerable. Only when I stood exposed, naked, and broken could I comprehend Jesus' work on the cross for the first time in my life. Not a mere means to salvation alone, a one and done transaction, but a redemption of all of the facets of being human, even and especially the ugly and broken parts of life! We have a God who suffers not just for us, but with us! If Jesus, the incarnate Christ, was willing to suffer and die on the cross in accordance with God's will, how much more (if I can borrow the apostle John's phrasing) should I be willing to confront the suffering my self isolation and preservation have caused in order to die to that way of life? Only then will I be transformed into a daughter of God with a calling of love.
I have seen that I am the one standing in the way of receiving love and thus blocking the flow of love of out me. As I begin to see my thick crust (read ego) crack and feel the flow of love that God intends for every human to participate in, life is becoming so much larger, so much clearer and so much more peaceful. When I lean into the places where my crust is thin and cracking, I feel my ego fade away and God's Indwelling Spirit healing me from within. Health becomes no longer a question of symptom removal but of ego removal, of being able to embrace my life and my struggles so I can embrace the lives and struggles of those in the world with me. We are all in relationship with one another and when I attempt to stand apart - from my own body, from other people and from God, the consequences are devastating. But when I choose love without fear, I am transformed from “a hurt person hurting others to a wounded healer healing others.” (Richard Rohr) I'm not sure what could be more beautiful that sitting with another human and joining them in all the messiness of life while being able to say with full confidence -- your life is so much more than your struggles!
What I have learned is that there will never be a point where life stops being messy and I can stand in front of people and say, "I no longer experience suffering." But Jesus transformed all suffering, including mine and yours, on the cross. I serve a God of resurrection power who takes apparent set backs and endings and turns them into the most beautiful stories, more beautiful than I can even imagine in the midst of the struggles.
Because of Christ's example, I am ready to impart to others. I heard this message six months ago, and I believe this message today. My life is still messy, and I have days, more than I'd like to admit, where I hide behind the thicker parts of my crust to mine and everyone's detriment, but God shows us what we can do when we are vulnerable. We can literally transform and change the world by being His agents of love.
So, dear reader, let me encourage you by saying that your struggles do not disqualify you from being an agent of healing and change in this world. You too are ready to impart to others.