Every Sunday I get home from Chapelwood and immediately go upstairs and put on something more comfortable. The clothes I wear to church on Sunday - my 'Sunday Best', represent a little of the ideal me that I want to present to the world. The stretched stained tee shirt and pajama flannel shorts that I wear around the house seem inappropriate in the house of God.
As Jerry said last week, along with dressing up our outsides, we feel the pressure to dress up our insides. We hide the stains and tears that mar our souls and try and make ourselves as spiritually presentable as possible. It is as if our wounds, jealousies, hurts and fears are as inappropriate in church as tee shirt and shorts.
There is the Ideal Me - the me of the Sunday Best, the me I aspire to be, and then their is the Real Me. On any given Sunday I am at various places on the continuum. The gift of Contemplative Worship has been allowing me to bring whatever me I am currently experiencing into the presence of God.
The very songs we sing reflect this tension, some of our songs express an ideal - All To Jesus I Surrender, All to Him I freely Give. That lyric expresses an attitude of surrender that I may never attain in this lifetime. Other songs express the reality of our comfortable clothes Take, O Take me as I am, summon out what I shall be.'
Over 15 years ago I wrote the song My Life Is No Longer Mine:
My life is no longer mine, to do with as I will
I gave all my rights away
When I gave myself to You
Surrender all I am, giving all I have to give
I'm trusting in You alone
To give all I need to live
When You gave Yourself for me
You gave all You had to give
When I give myself to You
I can give no less
Take my life now, take it all
Do with me as You desire
I surrender to Your love
I can do no less
Take my life, take my all
(To listen to it, click here)
It's proved to be one of my most popular praise and worship songs........and it bites me in the butt regularly.
It expresses a 'Sunday Best' ideal that at times I aspire to, but at other times I wish I hadn't written - if the composer cannot live up to his words and sing them honestly how can anyone else?
Gave all my rights away....Surrendering all I am....Trusting in You alone....When I give myself to you I can give no less
Well actually I can and frequently do give less than my all.
Do with me as You desire....
Err...not so much.
Sometimes this song expresses who I want to be, other times it feels that every line is an excuse to beat myself up for not being the kind of Christian I think I should be. My inner critic loves to berate me for not measuring up to some impossible christian ideal, and this song lyric becomes another yard stick that I can measure myself by and find myself wanting.
I would much rather sit with the lyrics to another song of mine.
Love, like a waterfall, falling on us
Flooding our hearts with grace and peace.
Healing waters flow, flowing on us,
Flooding our hearts with love.
Every moment of every day God is loving us,
Showers of mercy and waves of forgiveness are covering us
Love, like a waterfall.....
(For an explanation of how that song came to be written click here)
Some days I respond to the bold spiritual challenge, other days I feel so fragile that all I want is for God to hug me in silence....and I'm grateful that whether I'm reaching for ideals or wearing my wounds like an armor, I have a place I can just 'be' who I am in the presence of God.
What does your 'Ideal Me' look like? When do you feel at your most comfortable?