Fast forward three years and I thought maybe I needed some help to learn to like myself. So, my mom took me to a therapist. I'll never forget that encounter. My family must have thought this was something really serious because everybody seemed to think the price of the session was worth it. When your family is struggling financially, paying for a session of talk therapy is a big deal. Anyway, I walked into the cold room filled with diplomas on the wall that were supposed to reassure me that he was qualified enough to help me. But, it only made me feel more intimidated and inadequate. We couldn't speak the same language. His self-assured, polished voice telling me I felt pity for myself did not connect with my shaky, insecure voice. He simply did not come across as warm or empathetic. I didn't feel he understood me. So I left and never went back. However, to be fair to the man, he did share a story with me that I still remember to this day. He said, “Liciane, you're like a person who's walking down a path, falls into a hole and keeps refusing to use help to get out. You're waiting to figure out a way out on your own but fail to realize that, while you can help many people out of the hole, you cannot help yourself on your own because your hand will not reach far enough without help.” I remember thinking it made a lot of sense. I needed help out of the hole. Just not from him.
When I think back to that time in my life, I remember how much I hated that therapist's attitude. He acted as if he knew everything about me and as if he could fix me. He did not feel sorry for me, which was a good thing, but he did not know how to feel my pain either. From where I stood he was unreachable and he had no vulnerabilities. I despised the idea of opening up to him and trusting him with my most intimate fears and disappointments. However, I must say that the story about the falling into the hole helped. It prompted me to reflect about my attitude, about God, and about my need for Him. And here's some of what I have come to realize.
The more we defend our inefficiencies and fears, the more trapped and paralyzed we feel. But the sooner we admit we are in need of a Savior, or simply that we're in constant need, the sooner we experience the freedom of being rescued and of being who we are in its entirety. We are insufficient on our own. We are always in a state of becoming, but we are also co-heirs with Christ. Romans 8:17 says “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” [NLT] Because faith in Christ requires the recognition that we are not participants in the work of the cross, which is humbling and can be hard to grasp in a world that values performance so much. But it can liberate us from the vain attempt to save ourselves and others. And that is not only freeing but also such a relief. Because, as good as I think I am, I would never want to depend on me to save myself, know any better, or to change my heart. Those are vain attempts I struggle with but not without the clear awareness of the foolishness of it all.
Additionally, when I think about that therapist all those years ago, I think about how incredibly awesome Christ actually is. It's a magnificent realization to know how, in order not to ever allow me to feel alone in my suffering, He stepped down and rid Himself of his glory to share in my pain, so that I'd know that the One who can get me out of the hole knows what it feels like to be down there - abandoned, misunderstood, and judged. I can connect with a Savior who suffered and His suffering is pure grace to the prideful like me, who, even as a child, will refuse to receive help from someone who doesn't ‘get it’ even if they're actually capable of helping. But thank God for the grace of not needing to go through the anxiety of feeling like an alien when talking to Him. He gets it. And it isn't because of a diploma. His credentials are his love. His unshakable, unfailing, and ever-present love. If you think about it, it's not that hard to receive help from a Savior like this. He knows it, He feels it, and He truly cares. And even though we don't get to share in the praises of rescuing ourselves, we get to be loved and rescued regardless of whether we are deserving.
If you missed out on this week's sermon, check it out here .