Abiding in holy discomfort

“Holiness does not consist in never having erred or sinned. Holiness increases the capacity for conversion, for repentance, for willingness to start again and, especially, for reconciliation and forgiveness…. It is not the fact that we have never erred but our capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness which makes us saints.”

Pope Benedict XVI, general audience on January 31, 2007

This quote by Pope Benedict the XVI has been following me around all week. I saw it first on Instagram last Sunday, and then it appeared again during bible study on Wednesday night. The boldness of this statement coupled with the themes I have been praying with the past few weeks could not make it more clear what God is trying to tell me.

And y’all, I’m feeling really uncomfortable.

The Lord is challenging the narrative upon which I have built my entire life. The one that tells me that I can’t rely on others, the one that tells me to push for perfection, the one that tells me performance and self-sufficiency is the only way to be assured of receiving love. I was so sure for so long that I had to take care of myself, that love would never be given freely and that I couldn’t count on it, and suddenly I am being faced with a truth that shatters this worldview and breaks everything I thought I knew into pieces.

And yet, as my worldview falls apart I can start to see the way it has been hurting me and leading me to a place I didn’t want to be. By not counting on others, I have missed out on being loved. By pushing for perfection, I have pressured myself and made my own performance my god. By trying to be self-sufficient, I have pushed away the people who are consistently trying to give me the love I have been trying to get for myself. This vision of my life is not the one I was called to, and it’s not the one I want anymore.

I want to live a life where I am loved. I want to live a life where I am secure. I want to live a life where being loved is not predicated on perfection. What would it mean to allow myself to be the repentant sinner I am and enter into a life of holiness that actually requires the grace of God and the support of others? How would living this life change everything?

I don’t know the answer to that yet. I’m tentatively allowing myself to explore it. To break down my walls a little and ask for love. To let myself be human and let it be okay when I get something wrong. To acknowledge my strengths and limitations and recognize, finally, that I can’t do everything myself. This is rocky ground for me, and I won’t pretend that I’m confident in how this will play out. This path is risky and vulnerable, and when I look over the edge at where I need to go I’ll admit to being a little terrified. But I also know that the path I was taking, wasn’t serving me, and going this new way is the only chance I have of finding the life and the love that I was meant to live, and meant to have.

So I’m going to take a little step forward. One baby step at a time. I’m going to let it be hard. I’m going to let it be uncomfortable. I’m going to let it be all of these things. Because I know on the other side is something that I really need, something that I’ve needed all my life. And that, my friends, is peace.

I mean hey, no one said being cleansed of our idols was going to be easy (Ezekiel 36:25). But I have to believe that it is worth it.

I hope you take some time this week to sit with this quote from Pope Benedict. I pray you let it penetrate your heart and shatter your worldview of who you think you are and are supposed to be. And most of all, I hope it makes you uncomfortable, and gives you the courage to see how this new way of holiness may be exactly what you need.

Friends, will you allow yourself, today, to be a repentant sinner? And will you let that change everything?