Lately, I’ve really been struggling with understanding what it means to be holy, what it means to let the image of God within me be renewed to its original form. The challenge I believe lies within my persistent inability to allow myself to be loved by God, to be healed and made whole. I’ve grown so accustomed to feeling broken and incomplete that the idea of being anything else is uncomfortable beyond belief.

One of the courses I’m taking this semester is on John Wesley and early Methodist history. In it, one of the authors defines Wesley’s idea of scriptural holiness as love of God, love of neighbor, acts of piety, and acts of mercy. Herein rests my hardship: I think that, for us to be able to love God and neighbor, we need to at least partially understand the manner in which we are loved by God and, from there, learn to love ourselves in that same manner and from that same starting point. People often say we can’t love others unless we love ourselves. I’m finding this to be more true than I previously believed.

At a point when John Wesley struggled with his own faith, a colleague told him to preach until he had it and, from there, because he had it, he would preach it. I have to wonder if the same is possible for love. Are we able to preach love until we have it, and then preach it because we have it? I don’t have an answer. That more than anything is making life difficult for me, mostly because, in realizing how little love I have for myself, how little worth and value I place on my own life, I’m left wondering how sincere and authentic my love for everyone else around me is.

Personally, I think I’m more prone toward self-sabotage than anyone I know. If I have something good going for me, I’m often quite capable of catalyzing its disintegration. This is applicable to relationships, education, careers, personal health, and almost anything else one could imagine. Presently, I see so many blessings in my life and so, immediately, I’m put on guard by my own self-knowledge, wondering if, when, and how I might bring it all crumbling down. I’m questioning my own worthiness for a vocation in ministry, even with the knowledge that God often calls those who have deemed themselves unworthy only to build them up in her image.

Most days, pulling myself out of bed is so arduous a task that everything beyond that is utterly daunting and draining. As someone who’s always valued his friendships, I’m noticing myself investing less and less as time progresses. I know much of this is grief-related, stemming out of how desperately I miss Nanny – her voice, her presence. Nanny was such an image of God for me, a manifestation of the depths to which God’s love for me ran, the lengths to which God would go for me. This is not to say I cannot see God in anyone else, but honestly, her God-mark was so prominent that others seem to pale in comparison. She really was Jesus for me, more than even I realized until quite recently.

So really, in saying I miss Nanny, I suppose I’m missing God. Through Nanny, I felt God’s laughter and joy, her hugs and tears and kisses, her challenges, her affirmation. I really just want to find my way back to her…


~ by Michael O. on October 3, 2011.

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