Be Kind to Yourself

Humanity, individually and collectively, has countless sorrows in this life. A few particular griefs that stand out for me are the waste of loss, the weight of loneliness, and the intensity of pain. These things live side by side with our joy, love, and connectedness. Do you feel the tension? Our hope peers down into our cavernous longings and shudders. Our love does not know how to live with loss. We are in the midst of a lifelong tug-of-war between joy and despair. If either dropped their end of the rope, we would be living a lie.

To fight against being overcome with despair, we shout into the ravenous discourse of social media to feel some kind of connection. We fall into the arms of friends to feel known. We look for affection and romantic love-even sacrificial love-to throw themselves into our voids. We sedate ourselves binge-watching sitcoms or scrolling through pornography. We bury ourselves in work to feel some semblance of purpose. We starve ourselves to feel beautiful and drown ourselves in alcohol to escape the hurt. We look for sub-par saviors to supplement the Savior of our souls.

This is not a guilt trip.

This is an acknowledgment: life is hard.

I want you to know, because I am right in the thick of it myself: your own unique, personal methods of self-medicating deserve compassion. Your deepest desires for love, connection, intimacy, peace, affirmation, etc. echo of heavenly realities and a fulfillment yet to come. You’re not alone. You are loved. Don’t give up.

Stare into your sorrow for a while and you’ll find the terrified shell of a human being that is you at your most vulnerable, your most honest state. Eight months ago in coming face-to-face with the most hidden parts of me, this is the journey I began . . . it was the worst and best decision of my life so far.

We must learn to be kind to the parts of ourselves we do not like. It is time to take our darkness gently by the hand and walk with it into the light. I’ve seen glimpses of the goodness to be found. Will you press on with me, in courage and kindness?


Credit Limit on Grace

There are four things that make me angry in a scary, bloodthirsty way:

1. Injustice
2. Senseless Suffering
3. Apathy
4. Incompetence

Perhaps the first three merit some level of indignation, but the last?

For the past several weeks, my patience has been tried by incompetent people. Who knew that opening an account at a new bank could be such a fiasco? Answer: probably everyone but me.

Yesterday, I ranted to both my sister and my dad about the stupidity of this new bank, and how I was certainly going to close the account. Here are some direct quotes from yours truly:

“I don’t care if from now on they do everything perfectly. I’m done!”
“How stupid can you be? Really.”
“I’m going to write the worst review I have ever written about these people!”
“I’m going to tell them that their management better get their act together, because this is ridiculous.”

This pixelated text cannot possibly convey the bitterness and crazed laughter in my tone when I said these words (very loudly in public areas.) Seriously, I could feel my blood pressure rising. My heart threw a temper tantrum of hard, fast beats.

The gist of the problem is that they have sent me a credit card 3 times each with my name spelled wrong (Lidnesy Synder,) my debit card is not working, I am unable to re-set my online banking username and password, and my account is on hold because…well, I don’t even know, and I’m going to have to wait until Monday to figure that one out.

So. I imagine you understand my frustration.

After trying to pay with my debit card and seeing the “declined” message at my favorite Nashville coffeehouse, I just about blew my top right there at the friendly, considerate cashier. When I got back to my office, I called my personal banker, ready to tell him that I was D-O-N-E. I felt something inside me say “wait a while until you call. Don’t call when you’re angry.” I knew I was thinking irrationally at this point but I didn’t freaking care. I was gonna let him know that I didn’t think it was his fault, but I still wanted to make this guy feel BAD. Well, thankfully, he didn’t pick up.

And then, I started to simmer down. A few hours later, I caught myself thinking about grace, of all things.

Oh great, I thought to myself, disgruntled, knowing what was coming next.

I do believe that I am caught up in the middle of a hands-on learning experience of grace. And you know what? I’m thankful that all these little frustrating things are happening, because now I realize what a low grace credit limit I truly have. I trumpet my desires of loving people well wherever I go, then forget that the greatest way Jesus showed His love was through His grace towards me.

Free, unmerited favor proved in His word, through His life and death, through my own life experiences.

What if God said my direct quotes about the bank (see above)…to me?

Ouch. Honestly, I would have no reason to live. Gratefully, God does not see my failures. He sees the victories, Jesus Christ’s victories, and attributes them to me as righteousness.

Romans 3:27-28 says,

27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

As a pastor at a church I visited said just last week, it’s like a parent cheering their daughter on as she learns to walk. Parents don’t get angry at their child for falling after a wobbly step, saying “You’re so unbelievably stupid. This is easy!” like I want to say to the bank. Parents get excited about that one wobbly step she made, pick her up, and cheer her on!

God has entrusted you and me with representing His perfect Son. Often, I am fairly sure I am the worst representation of the love of Jesus. Paul was also fairly certain of this fact.

But grace. But grace, but grace, but grace!

So with this bank fiasco, because of Jesus, I can show unmerited favor in this small thing. In connection with my previous post, this is perhaps an example of a tiny way that Christians can be seen differently. Most people may have closed the account at this point. Honestly, it still doesn’t even make much sense to me to stay with them. But it doesn’t make much sense for God to stick with me either. So, call me crazy, but I am going to try to be bold and tell my personal banker my story, much abbreviated, and say that it is because of the grace Jesus has showed me that I will show them grace too. Because it’s true. In all likelihood, he will smile and nod, and in his head be like, what the bleep? but hey, I gotta practice what I write every once in a while. That is, if I’m not too chicken. And I don’t say this to try and receive your applause either. The point is, I am not full of grace, God is.

I need to share this grace. It’s only one of the major reasons why I am alive.

So I’m going to give the bank another chance. And, if I have to, another. And another. I know where I stand now.

Because grace.