It’s really interesting to me that when I think of resting, it isn’t the idea of resting from being Judge of the World. I think about resting from the demands of lots of relationships (I am basically an introvert) or resting from physical labor, but not from the hard work of doing God’s job-a job I was never designed to do. I spent such a large part of my life thinking that it WAS my job to evaluate everyone around me, to decide where they stood on any number of things, and then to set them straight. And I worked very hard at it. It was SUCH a hard job. It made me feel isolated, like a weirdo, like I always had to somehow hold myself apart from people. It is very difficult to describe just how bad it felt. It was like being outside a house filled with light, people, laughter, and fun, looking in the window, freezing in the cold. Like the Little Match Girl. Just slowly freezing to death, encased in my harsh opinions of others, cut off from them by not being able to just be one of them.
Somehow, part of getting older for me has been to let go of that role. I realize now that it really isn’t my job. I can evaluate my own actions and attitudes and pray that God will make me a nicer person, a better person, but it never really worked to try to impose my judgment on others. All it did was separate me from them when what God wanted was for me to love them. Because that is my job. It is pretty much my only job. It is pretty clear in the commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.
So it turns out that just loving people is really pretty fun. It isn’t always, of course, and some people are REALLY hard to love, but the ones right in front of you aren’t that hard if you take your job seriously. Well, except the ones in traffic. Obviously the Bible wasn’t written when there were cars and interstates. And it is just such a relief to not have to DECIDE about everybody. To just see them as frail and broken and needing love, just like me. To feel empathy and admiration for who they are and how hard they are fighting their own particular battles.
Life is gift, not a job. It is something to be received, noticed, accepted, reverenced, protected, and even enjoyed. It goes so fast. Why waste it hating people? Why not just accept the possibility that other people may just be as good, as nice, as well-intentioned as you think YOU are, even if they express it differently? There aren’t many people out there who aren’t trying pretty hard to do the right thing. Why not just give them the benefit of the doubt? Isn’t that what we all want? Whether we like it or not, God loves us all, the jihadists, the child abusers, the elitists, the proud, the greedy, the judgmental, the weak, the losers and the winners, and believe it or not, the Democrats AND the Republicans. And most surprising of all, he loves me. This, I think, is what should always surprise us the most, because no one knows better than oneself how awful we really can be inside.
So rest, beloved. Just rest. There is safety, always safety, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Bon Iver Ever since I heard the howlin’ wind
I didn’t need to go where a bible went
But then you know your gifts seemed heaven sent
Just lead me to a choler, dad, that’s the thing
I don’t know how you house the sin
But you’re free now
I was never sure how much of you I could let in
And I’m free now
Won’t you settle down baby here your love has been
It’s definitely lava
Why you don’t carry other names?
Heard about a day where it dropped the know
To go another day as we learn to close ‘Cause I’m a known coward in a coward wind
But you’re free now
You turn around now and you count to 10
To see you go now
Well I know now honey that I can’t pretend
Is whose brought to his autumn
And love is left in end
I just been up here for god damn years
Can you see now?
Filling up hulls with god damn fears
I am free now
I know about it darlin’, I’ve been standin’ here
Is all that he offers
A safety in the end
Songwriters: Justin Vernon
Heavenly Father lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.
P.S. Look this song up on YouTube and pick the a cappella version. It will blow your mind.