Lately I have been asking myself this question, over and over: “Margaret, to whom do you belong?” Do you belong to the world? OR Do you belong to God? I get so caught up in “keeping up with the Joneses” or lessening who I am in order to please other people in an impossible attempt to fit an impossible mold in order to justify my existence and my worth. I look to others to justify my worth which only leads to heartbreak and catastrophe when I am inevitably deemed not enough or rejected for who I am (if I get the courage to reveal that woman). I cannot and will not, no matter how much I try to, be enough for a world which demands perfection.
This struggle has led me far from home and has caused me to have an identity crisis. That crisis led me to assess my situation and my heart, ultimately leading me to realize that I have been so desperately trying to belong to this broken and cruel world.
A year ago I felt a call to ministry–and during this last year I have been grappling with that call and working towards being okay with the call God has laid upon my heart. I have yet to fully surrender my life, my control and my fear. On my best days I am willing to believe that God, can, in fact, use me and that I am wired for God; on my okay days I can laugh and admit that I am going to seminary but on my worst days I let fear win and I let myself believe that God’s call is nothing more than a shackle–a burden I am required to bear. A burden that will open me up to even more rejection and ridicule from this world.
And that is where the truth seems to lie, that I would rather choose death than life. I am choosing to belong to the world rather than to belong to God. My actions suggest that I do not want to belong to God–I want to belong to a broken and cruel world. But my heart, oh my heart, it longs to go home–to the One who created it and deemed it good. My heart reminds me, even if only quietly, that I have been deemed good, that I am oh so loved, that I am enough.
Just two weeks ago we celebrated Easter. We celebrated Jesus’ triumph over death and we rejoice in the knowledge that we are saved. But I still don’t believe it, I still struggle to really think that God could ever love me. On Maundy Thursday we ended with Peter’s denial. Ever since Maundy Thursday, I have been clinging to the story of Peter and finding just how much I relate to this disciple. I cling to the fact that Jesus predicted Peter’s denial and yet still promised to show up in Galilee.
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,
‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny my three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples.”
I cling to this story. I cling to the Truth it reveals–that Jesus knows when I will deny him and still promises to meet me in Galilee. God will endure the pain of my denial over and over and over again to only remain faithful to me. Peter’s denial reveals Jesus’ love and faithfulness. God keeps God’s promises. God shows up even when I repeatedly deny God and continue to choose to belong to the world. God is always faithful even when I am not.
In my rereading of The Return of the Prodigal Son, I was struck by what Henri says of Jesus’ two disciples Judas and Peter:
“Judas betrayed Jesus. Peter denied him. Both were lost children. Judas, no longer able to hold onto the truth that he remained God’s child, hung himself. In terms of the prodigal son, he sold the sword of his sonship. Peter, in the midst of his despair, claimed it and returned with many tears. Judas chose death. Peter chose life. I realize that this choice is always before me. Constantly I am tempted to wallow in my own lostness and lose touch with my original goodness, my God-given humanity, my basic blessedness, and thus allow the powers of death to take charge…But when God created man and woman in his own image, he saw that ‘it was very good,’ and, despite the dark voices, no man or woman can ever change that” (Nouwen, TRTPS, pp. 50-51).
I cling to Peter’s story, I cling to the knowledge that Jesus knew he would be betrayed and denied, yet, still promised to meet them in Galilee. When he did meet them, he did not tell them “I told you so,” he greeted them saying “Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36). God still claims us as the Beloved, even when we haven’t been very lovable.
So my dear friends, or rather brothers and sisters, peace be with you all. May you choose life, choose to believe that God will meet you in Galilee–no matter how far from home you have strayed. I know it is nearly impossible to believe in this type of love in this type of grace, but for the sake of our poor hearts why not let us try to trust in it together.
May the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Peace, Joy, Blessings and All My Love,