On Monday I came home from a wonderful weekend at a Christian camp. My little boys and my husband and I got to worship in God’s beautiful creation, spend time in prayer, talk about what Jesus is doing in our midst.
Instead of preaching, we received. Instead of leading, we rested. Instead of being “on,” we were off. Like, totally off. No-cell-reception-off.
It was amazing.
I came home ready to conquer the world. I was going to do ALL the things that were good and holy!
Then I stayed up until midnight watching some stupid television show (I won’t tell you what it is, but it rhymes with Shmachlorette) and woke up like a mama grizzly bear.
“Morning, Mom!” my four-year-old chirped at way-too-early-o’clock.
“GRARR,” I said.
“Do you mind if I head out to exercise this morning?” my husband inquired.
“BRAAAAARRRGH,” I replied.
The baby pointed for his water cup and wailed.
“RRRRRRAAAAAAAWWWWRRRRR,” I said.
From mountaintop spiritual experience to Grumpiest Mom Ever in less than 24 hours. That’s got to be a record.
I confess to being frustrated that God isn’t finished with me yet. I keep waiting to arrive. To become perfectly holy and good and wise and loving and patient and kind and the type of person who never snipes at her kids or her husband no matter how late she stayed up the night before.
I heard someone say this week that God created us to be gardens. A garden is never finished. It always needs pruning and weeding and tending and watering.
Sometimes I wish I were a statue so God could simply carve me and let me be. But statues are dead things. Cold, stony things.
Gardens are filled with life.
The fact that you and I still need to be pruned need not be shameful. It’s hopeful. It’s an act of grace.
Not one of us has arrived yet. Short of eternity, not one of us will.
As the desert monastic Carlo Carretto notes,
In our community the other day there wasn’t much coffee. Coffee does me good down here in the desert. It helps me. I am old.
I was worried about not having any, about spending a few hours feeling dull and weak, and so—without perceiving the evil I was doing—I went into the kitchen before the others and drank up all that was left. Afterwards, having suffered all day and made my confession, I thought in shame of my selfishness, of the ease with which I had excluded my two brothers from these bitter, black remains.
It seems a tiny thing, yet in that cup of coffee, taken and not shared with my brothers, is the root of all the evil which disturbs us, the poison of all the arrogance which selfishness, riches, and power create…
No, it isn’t easy to live with hearts like ours: let us confess it.
A lot of weeds need to be pulled from the gardens of our hearts. Selfishness, anger, hatred, envy, rage, sloth, greed.
A heart full of weeds is a heavy one. When we believe we must be perfect and suffer shame for our sins and faults, we become a tangled mess.
Confession is good for the soul. As Scripture says in James 5:16:
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
We all drink the last of the coffee. You. Me. Monks.
This is why Jesus came.
Confess. Repent. Turn.
And start again.