Joe Siccardi, our friend and constant encourager, passed away earlier this week. Joe was unfailingly kind to me, always reminding me that God loves me and gave me the passions, quirks, and talents that I have for a reason, and that I am meant to use them. Sometimes Joe did this through direct comments. Most often, however, Joe encouraged me through his example of kindness and faithfulness in his own ministry and writing. There’s something about a person living contentedly in the midst of God’s will that makes you want that for yourself.
Thank you, Joe. I’m glad our paths crossed for the short time they did.
Kate says: conclude.
I am tired.
That is, of course, an understatement. There is no word strong enough.
I think it’s hard for people in helping professions – teaching, ministry, medicine, psychiatry – to admit when we’re tired. In the past I’ve heard this difficulty framed in terms of pride. Oh, you think you can go forever and do all the things. Don’t you just have a martyr complex? And sure, yeah, sometimes, because every human deals with that. But most of the time, it’s not pride. Most of the time it’s the terrible wondering that, if you rest, if you turn off your phone or don’t answer the email, maybe you aren’t doing the job right. Maybe God is mad at you.
At least, that’s my struggle.
I told my therapist in our last session that I’m frustrated with myself, because I just assumed that I’d conquer anxiety at some point. Like, maybe I’d never be cured, exactly, always needing to take a pill, but that I wouldn’t be back in her (virtual) office, talking – again – about nightmares and panic attacks. She chuckled, and cut right to the heart of the matter: Do you think God is mad at you, Marie? Because you are weak and need help?
My chin dropped to my chest and I sighed heavily. I’ve got an undergrad in theology. I’m in seminary. I’ve read the Bible. I’ve led small groups. I’ve written Bible studies. I’ve preached.
I know the answer.
I forget the answer.
Tonight, I think I conclude that we all forget the answer. We forget that there is no beginning and no end to God’s love. We forget that love is part of God’s very essence, being, nature. We forget that love is the driving force in God’s every action, even the ones that don’t seem loving from our limited perspective. We forget that there are no conditions attached to God’s love. Yes, that’s right. God loves even those who don’t love God, in exactly the same way that God loves those who do love God. This is the starting point, the foundation.
I conclude that we all need to be reminded, and reminded frequently. Because whether or not you have to take a pill to soothe the racing in your mind or not, I think every last one of us fears that God doesn’t really love us. Embrace us. That we have to strive and to earn and to prove ourselves.
We can take a deep breath, knowing that we are inhaling the deep, abiding affection of our true, loving, forever God.