On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
I recently went through a “dry season”. I have to say, I used to feel mystified by this church language, but through the process, I've come to realize that it's an important part of the faith journey, and one that still has God's call to come deeper. Nevertheless, I didn’t expect it, and I didn’t realize where I was going until I was already there. For me, this season felt shameful and worrisome as I wrestled with an already challenging question: why should I (continue to) follow Jesus?
How did I end up in this place? Let me backtrack a bit. During our fast in January, God called me to surrender a long term--perhaps even a lifelong--addiction. I had known for a long time that it wasn’t anything to be proud of, but the addiction was my safe place, a way to cope with trauma, and, to a large extent, my identity. In my brokenness, God’s conviction felt condemning and overwhelming. As I struggled to keep the fast going for the sake of fasting, I eventually came to a crossroads where my love for God and my other love were in direct conflict.
But I still felt reluctant and apprehensive. How do I let go of something that feels like a friend or even my own body? I didn’t know how, I didn’t fully understand the reason, and I obviously didn’t really want to. I felt truly stuck. And the more I thought about all of this, the more I felt defensive about meeting my needs that were being displaced. And then I started to feel that Christians only cared about their righteousness and not about me or my suffering. Soon enough, I was full on angry, and I remember thinking, ‘God’s standards are impossibly high, and the call to follow Jesus is too much for me. I don’t want to do this anymore’.
It’s difficult to recount the details of this journey, especially through my introverted and introspective lens. It certainly took another one of God’s miracles (and grace) for me to uncover that God is--as I have once believed and known--good, and that He has been good all along. There was plenty of turmoil, frustration, and anger throughout the process, but in the end, through my very own brokenness, God was able to bring about a greater healing and redemption in my life than I had ever experienced before.
I want to share some of my key learnings. Number one is that I was holding onto lies about God. The usual suspect, right? But understanding how and why the lies took hold in the first place helped me to see my journey not through shame but through the grace and compassion that God extends to all of us. Evidently, I had picked up a lot of guilt and negative self-worth throughout my life, and it was making me view my relationships through a lens of oppression and rejection. And, even more importantly, I realized that I had built up a pattern of withdrawal and escape, even towards God.
Next is that there is a faith aspect to all of this. At the “turning point”, I had made a conscious decision to trust God; to believe that He is good and that He is for me, even if my shame, hurt, and anger didn’t feel that way. One of the biggest things that helped me was hearing what Jesus had to say about how it’s the sick who needs the doctor. This made sense (logically), and so I was able to recognize that I shouldn't have to feel shameful about getting help. And if what Jesus said on His Sermon on the Mount (ex. Matthew 5:4) were true, there seemed to be a place in His Kingdom for me.
I want to acknowledge that God’s Kingdom doesn’t always seem welcoming without His grace. And perhaps it never does. With my partner's encouragement, attending church even when it was filled with upsetting triggers gave me the opportunity to be reminded that God gives freely to everyone. I may have been too hurt and/or too prideful to have asked for forgiveness, but Jesus has already paid the price and He just wants me to come and receive Him. This part defies the logic of justice, but here we all are having received God's grace when we were still His enemies. Once I started to understand and process the forgiveness that Jesus offered, I started seeing God differently. From this place, I was able to ask for His forgiveness and ask for help, which is something that I am continuing to press into.
In my field (special education), educators take on somewhat of a detective role. We look at behaviour fundamentally as a form of communication, and when we see a student struggle--or completely fail--we take responsibility to identify any barriers that may be in their way. I see now that my barrier was (and still is) shame. But I wonder what other barriers stand in the way of us coming closer to Jesus--just as we are, sick and broken. If you are questioning, my heart feels for you. If you’re questioning, I see that you’re seeking and fighting.
I have come to realize that God is always and actively calling us into a deeper relationship with Him. Every Christian, no matter how ‘spiritual’, is in the process of overcoming something through God’s help. After all, this is the very nature of what it means to be a Christian and a follower of Jesus.
In this season of Lent, we are told to come. What does this look like for you? I think we all have different postures for coming to King Jesus. In my experience, Jesus sometimes simply said, “Look at me”. Sometimes it meant singing a bit more with my heart. And sometimes, it meant going up to the prayer ministry and asking for help, allowing God to work through the members of our community. And I think, more often than not, the picture isn’t so much as us coming to God, but rather us coming to answer the door.
In all the times that my brokenness and sin--which I think are often the two sides to the same coin--were revealed, it has been both a time of blessing and a time of feeling shame, inadequacy, and helplessness. I'll say it right here: being truly vulnerable is hard and the healing process can be painful. But through my dry season, I was able to affirm God’s character: God is encouraging and God wants to help us become whole; shame and guilt do not come from Him. Knowing this, I find the strength again to come back to His presence and worship Him with others. And so my journey with Jesus continues. I’m not sure where your journey begins, but may the hope and peace of Christ Jesus help you to come find the healing you need.
Simon is getting married soon. He is working as an EA in the school board now. He enjoys music, writing, and watching TV. He still loves getting brunch after church.