Music playing: Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson
“The life of faith begins with a confession of bankruptcy. In order to accept our Savior,we must accept our need. We cannot have His righteousness without denying our own;we cannot have His holiness without confessing our sin;and we cannot receive His redemption without owning up to our bondage. We are bankrupt before Him and fools if we don’t know it. The beauty of the cross is its UGLINESS. God left us no aesthetic religion to idolize,no self effort to perfect,no Law to fulfill. He completely undid us by doing it all Himself. The way to become godly is to declare our ungodliness and cast it on Another. The way to become pure is to declare our impurity and ask for the heart and mind of Another. The way to live is not to seek life;it is to DIE and let Another live in our place. We thought the wisdom of God makes us better people-through works, service, intellect, philosophies, religion. But in His wisdom, Jesus did NOT come to make us better. He came to do away with the old ENTIRELY and to birth something NEW. We take hold of that by embracing the ugly, ignoble Cross. Only then can newness come. Never despise the humble appearance of God’s plan. Make no mistake–the Cross was not at first gilded with gold to adorn our necklines. It was a place of disgrace,a symbol of death. It was brutal and ugly; shameful. But it was God’s way. From the foundation of the world He ordained His priceless treasure in very plain clothes. If you’re ever tempted to avoid the unattractive path God has planned, turn to Jesus on the Cross. See him as a reminder that priceless treasures come in BROKEN vessels.” – Chris Tiegreen, Walk With God
It’s the Holy Week. And aside from the beautiful 4-day weekend (Hurrah!), people are going to different places to reflect. Well, I’m happily stuck at home and for the most part I have been lounging around, eating, watching my much missed television, and sleeping. Last night though I had a difficult time sleeping (too much milk tea) and I actually got around to doing some reflection.
It’s been nine years. Nine. It’s been almost a decade since I met Him. And I know that most of the people in my life know the story. How my heart got broken for the first time and I was at a loss… how that shook my world and turned it upside down. And how I truly met Him. Or He found me.
But it is really more than being heartbroken in the way that beautiful tragic love stories are written. Definitely more than the magazine story of boy meets girl and did not work out. See, when He found me, I was barely breathing and I didn’t even know it.
On the outside, it would seem as if I was one of those well put together people. Good grades, pretty good number of extracurricular activities, a bunch of friends with different personalities and from all over, and a complete family. Little did I know that inside, I was anything but put together. I was too focused, too busy keeping up this facade that I really did not pay attention to what was going on within.
That is why the breakup is one of the best things that ever happened to me. I could not see it then (AT ALL!) — too blinded by pain, confusion and regret. But it is. It is. When my heart got broken, I noticed just how much messed up I was. That I was not put together and that I did not know the first thing to fixing myself.
Before that fateful day on the steps, I thought that there was always something to prove and earn. That life should be measured in the you-did-this-you-deserve-this-system. That if you did not prove your worth or did not earn your place, life was just bad for you. That is why I worked SO hard. For the grades, for the achievements, for money, for love. When the breakup happened, I could not point the finger at anyone but myself. Maybe I did not try hard enough, I was not good enough, I should have given more, been more of who I was. I kept kicking myself for so long until I got completely exhausted.
Honestly, when that happened, I did not know what to do. What now? If this person I invested so much of my life and of myself to left, how could I trust that other people won’t do the same? What is there left of me to give? Do I really still have it in me to trust and move forward? If I am not good enough, then what is the point of even trying? If I try again, to what heights and depths should I extend myself to? Why did I even allow myself to be in that relationship?
I felt cheated, and defeated. Deep down I was torn between protesting that I gave it my best and giving up because my best was not good enough. It never will be. Both ideas were pretty difficult to swallow (hello, proud self). So I just chose to be numb.
But He found me. No, He chased after me. He pursued me – up to that very dark, empty corner where no one would even bother to go. He did. He found me. And with a firm yet gentle pull, I came back alive… and breathing.
And when I was just about to ask why He would go to such lengths to find me… He spoke. “I want you back. He may not want you back, but I do.”
That is when I allowed myself to collapse completely. And He caught me in His loving embrace. It was so relieving, and peaceful. I just sobbed my heart out. The truth was overwhelmingly beautiful.
Here He was, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, and He took me in. And He was letting me cry. He was embracing me even if I was broken. He did not even tell me to shush. He stayed.
He could have left me for other things that more, on the worldly scale. He could have just given me something — anything, to shut me up and wallow in. But He didn’t. He took the time. Oh, He really takes time with me. In my heart I was wildly refusing the embrace because I could not believe that I did not have to earn this. What is it going to cost? What can I do to ever give back that will measure to His standards? But the steadiness, the power, and the grace just quieted my refusal. I do matter. I do. He is here now, and that is what matters.
On that fateful day, nine years ago, I met the only and true savior of my soul. And He told me this piercing truth that set me free. “I do not need your religion–your rituals, your traditions, your sentimentality. I do not need you to stand before monuments making a showcase of yourself muttering empty words. I am not in those monuments. I am alive and I am everywhere. I am with you. I do not need your empty words repeated over and over again. I know what your heart is saying. I want you. I want you to trust me. I want you in my life, even if I have no need of you. I choose to want you. The more you try to outlove me, to outgive me… the more you push me away. I know who you are, every side of you, down to your very core. And I still want you. There is nothing to hide. So stop trying to. I see you. I see all of you. And because I chose that road to Calvary thousands of years ago, I see you and still, I chose to save you. It is done. It is DONE.”
For the longest time up until that day nine years ago, I allowed so many other things to define who I was without even knowing it. The achievements, the gadgets, the clothes, the praise, the seemingly good deeds, the relationships. But those things don’t last, do they? Those things fade. Those things leave. And even if they stayed, they don’t remain the same. Everything changes. Besides, I have no control whatsoever of those things. No matter how much I try, no matter how much I give, no matter how careful or intelligent I am, I have NO CONTROL over any of those things.
All I have is my heart. And it’s messed up, selfish and confused most of the time.
Oh, but Him. Jesus. He changed everything. And when I met Him that day, I knew where my identity and worth should be based on. I still don’t have it down… it will take my whole lifetime I know to even come close to who He is… but I would not trade Him. And thing is, even if I did, He would never let go of me. He loves fiercely like that. Thank you, Jesus.
And thank you for reading this far.
Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you are going through, or whatever you have done… Jesus wants you back, too. I know He does.
Thank you to all the people who have been a continuous part of my journey, especially the past nine years I hope you know who you are.
A special shout out to my dear girls, especially Sam, Ross, and Junnel — may you allow your beautiful selves to be found, all over again.