My wife is a therapist. While she never speaks about her clients, I can see how heavy this Covid crisis must be on therapists. People are carrying so much weight. Whatever dysfunction may be in their lives, the crisis accentuates it.
People may sense that, down deep, they are not OK. They may feel like they are rejected. And now, because we are not supposed to hug or even touch, that sense of rejection gets confirmed. It connects to our most deep-seated of wounds, the times in our life when we felt rejected.
Rejection can be overwhelming. I know that from experience. Growing up in high school was hard. I was shy, short, and constantly applying too much Clearasil and cologne in a desperate attempt to prop up my loser self. I was depressed and couldn’t wait to leave home.
How about you – how did it feel growing up? I hope you fared better than me.
The good news is that I’m actually OK now. God took the shambles of my false self and said that he sees me as a winner, so I can just relax. Wow – I can breathe again. This is the good news that the whole world needs! (see Ephesians 2:4-9)
Does it mean that I am a completely different person? No. I was born with hardwiring, and whatever temperament test I take, it shows up (ENTJ, Enneagram 3, a DI on the DISC). Yes, I’m different in some ways and God is working on me in others.
What it does mean is that the stakes are completely different. I don’t have to work at being OK.
And neither do you. We are already loved exactly for who we are. You can see that message all over the Bible.
If God didn’t love me, it could really wreck my day and tap into the pain of my high school years. But I’ve already got the scars from that battle – it’s over, I don’t need to re-fight it.
You’ll never be perfect and that’s OK. Religious rules may show us our sin, but they don’t get us to grace. Recognizing that we are not rejected, but loved is what gets us there.
So many of us already feel like failures. We know only too well the times we’ve blown it. We look in the mirror and see our flaws and want to fix them. In Korea, young people want to fix their eyes. Millions are getting eyelid surgery.
It’s no way to live. We have to find a way to leave the land of “I’m not OK.”
In a place of rejection, we may find ourselves seeking not love, but justice. Better to abandon your quest for interpersonal justice and focus on what you can control – your forgiveness of others (more on that here).
Children are born with a sense of wonder. They must be introduced to a sense of rejection. Jesus wants to kiss those wounds and make them better. He will fight us for the privilege.
We too often see what God is doing to pry our hands off the wheel of control of our lives as a source of more wounding. We recoil saying, “that hurts – leave me alone.” This Covid crisis is showing us all the ways that the life we were living didn’t work for us.
How should we respond? Society may say “you’re a victim, so numb the pain.” Jesus confronted pain. He created pain to teach us – to point us to the reality that he loves us.
There’s a better way to live – listen to your pain. What does it want to teach you?