“[I] promise to hold you close and pray,
watching the fantasies decay,
nothing will ever stay the same.
All of the love we threw away…
making the same mistakes again
making the same mistakes again
I can feel my world crumbling
I can feel my life crumbling… and falling away,
falling away with you.” – Muse ‘Falling Away With You’
Any Muse fans out there? Muse is one of my top 10 all-time favorite bands, and for those of you who know how obsessed I am with music know that must be saying something. While I love Muse for all of their musical creativity, it is not often that I find a song that reminds me of the Passion.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
This blog really begins about 9 days ago when I was complaining to a dear friend about how I was dropping the ball on my Lenten resolutions. I was so frustrated with myself because I had set these realistic (or so I thought) goals for Lent, and about halfway through, I realized I had broken all of them. All of them! I had given up. And so, my lunch break conversation with my friend looked like this:
Me, “I totally screwed up Lent this year. I broke all of my resolutions, and I don’t think I can go back. I just want to give up and wait for Easter.”
My friend, “Hmm. Have you thought about meditating on Stations of the Cross, especially when Jesus falls?”
Me, “… No.”
My friend, “Well, maybe you should.”
I internally heaved a melodramatic sigh, thinking that if I couldn’t even stick to Lenten promises I had made, why would I add something else spiritual to my plate, only to mess that up, too? But I shook off that emo thought, and decided to give it a try. And you know what? A beautiful thing happened. While mediating on the station of Jesus falling, I realized something I had been missing all along:
I am human.
Yeah, okay. You’re probably thinking, “Um, hello? Totes obvious bro.” But here’s the thing: while I may know that I’m human, I don’t own it. I set myself up thinking that I should do things perfectly the first time. I shouldn’t make mistakes. I shouldn’t be weak. I shouldn’t be vulnerable or need help. I should be able to do this whole life thing unaided, and with as few mistakes as possible.
It sounds ridiculous when I actually write it all down, but it’s how I feel underneath. It’s why I get so easily discouraged when I fall, or why it’s so hard for me to admit defeat or accept a hand to pull me up. Most significantly, it separates me from God because I refuse to even accept that I need His help. When He lovingly bends down to scoop me up in his arms, to strengthen me to try again, I hold out my hands and say, “No, no. Get back God, I can do this.” I won’t let Him close enough to help me, and sometimes I even push him away. And if I’m being really honest, sometimes I don’t believe that if I do fall, He will really save me in the end. I don’t have faith in His promise.
That’s kind of a problem, yeah? Cue more meditating…
While meditating on Jesus falling with his cross, I realized that even Jesus, even Jesus fully embraced his humanity. He embraced it to the point that he willfully – WILLFULLY! – chose to allow himself to be physically broken, to have his flesh torn and bruised, to have his blood leave his body, and leave him vulnerable to falling on his knees in weakness. He embraced his weakness to fulfill God’s promise. Jesus embodied humility, true humility, with his entire life. And why? Because he loves us. Out of pure love for us, he chose to be limited in body, to be limited by physical weakness, so as to save us from ourselves.
This is no small matter, and in fact, underlines the very significance of what we celebrate at Easter.
Jesus embraced his humility, he embraced his weakness out of love. Not only does this show us what true love is supposed to be – self-sacrificing for the good of the other – but it also shows us that when we fall, He falls with us. No matter how far we fall, we can only fall as far as the cross. He will always be there waiting to help us back up. He knows we are limited by our human weaknesses, and he came to save us from them. But we have to let him. And part of that entails us embracing our humanity, embracing our weakness, and allowing him to help us.
This is not to say we should just stop trying because we’re bound to fall regardless. Not at all. I think it means that we still strive to live as he taught us, with love and sacrifice, but not to allow failure or weakness to keep us from trying to live out his calling. We try despite our weakness, we persevere despite our flaws and failings, knowing that He will be there to pick us up each time we fall.
“Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell.” – Switchfoot ‘I Dare You to Move’