May 19, 2021
I’m nursing a sore finger today. I was trying to put our sliding screen door back onto its rails and I pinched my finger in the process. My first thought (other than “ouch”) was, “Oh no, how am I going to hold my guitar pick?” A man has to have his priorities! It’s strange how such an innocuous and small thing can become a constant irritant and inconvenience. The blister is on the pad of my dominant hand index finger. That means I am constantly using it, and bumping it, and wincing. Right now I’m trying to type and the band-aid is very annoying. I’m slower and making many more typos. I just can’t feel the keys in the usual way and it’s throwing me off.
It’s a good reminder of how little things can so thoroughly irritate us, and how little it takes to throw us off our preferred course. We all set goals, and expectations, and limits – we set priorities, and commitments, and desired ways of being – and then we tend to find ourselves not living up to those high-minded aspirations and intentions. Well, at least I do. Perhaps you’re better at it than I. And I’m always amazed, and chagrined, at how little (upon reflection – I can’t seem to see it while I’m in the midst of drifting) it takes for me to get complacent and take my eye off the ball. Sometimes it’s outward things that get in our way – things like pinching your finger. But I suspect that more often than not it’s our inner stuff that derails us.
So, what to do? First, be gentle with yourself. The grand total of perfect people is zero. Well, maybe one, if you count Jesus! But I seem to recall even he tossed a couple of tables in anger and disrespected a ‘foreigner’ who was simply begging for a crumb. So be gentle with yourself. You’re a good person. You may have stumbled, or wobbled, or messed up, but that is your exception, not your rule. The bad news is you’ll mess up again (and again). The good news is that you can always be gentle with yourself when you do.
The second thing I’d offer is to take a deep breath, remember who and whose you are, remind yourself that you are not alone, that surely God is in that place with you (no matter what), that you are loved, and then to recommit yourself to love, love, love. Over and over again. No matter how many times you need to repeat the cycle. (For me it’s close to daily!) You probably noticed that my second suggestion is nothing more than recalling our basic, foundational teaching and understanding of Jesus’ Way. Yup. That’s kind of the point.
There are two great truths here. One is that humans mess up, and when we do we need to be gentle with ourselves. The second is that God loves us no matter what, and a deep breath and a prayerful noticing reconnects us to that from which we temporarily felt detached. That’s the best wisdom I have for today. Whether you should listen to a guy too foolish to get his finger out of the way is up to you.