I am reminded today, of how very human I am. Ugh.
But it’s good to be reminded of that, from time to time.
Often times, I view myself as not-human. I’m not talking about having delusions of being an alien lifeform. No. I forget sometimes that the very things I despise so much about me, are some of the very things that make me human. Trapped in this world, far from getting to go home.
In fact, it was a day of human-ness. After a night of little sleep, I found myself annoyed at inconsequential things at work. Things that don’t really matter. I failed at my diet because I couldn’t resist the lemon cake that was in the office today. I was a slug, just barely dragging myself through my school work for the day. And most surprising of all, I found myself hurt by a friend, when I usually have the skin of a turtle shell.
But what has this done? It has shown me once again how very human I am, how my natural fault line is to fail. And to fail big.
Why am I like that? Why do I stumble and bumble around this world, so prone to failure? Why did God create us as such imperfect creatures, bent on doing the things we don’t want to do, yet not doing the things that we should and want to do? (Romans 7: 14-20)
I’ve thought quite a bit on this today, after finishing the book “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. A short, yet significant tome. It’s not easy to explain the premise of the book, except to say that Brother Lawrence seems to have truly experienced, encountered; yes, even enjoyed God thoroughly throughout each day, by training his mind about God–an awareness of God–throughout his days. Around the clock. Non-stop. How does one do that? I get so distracted, my mind wanders, my soul tends to argue, and doubt feeds my mind.
I loved this quote from the book:
“We must always work at it, because to not persevere in the spiritual life is to go back. But those who have the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep. If the vessel of our soul is still tossed with winds and storms, let us awake the Lord who reposes in it. He will quickly calm the sea”
We must always work at it. To not persevere is to go back. Some go forward even in sleep. Even in sleep. Let us awake the Lord who reposes in it, He will quickly calm the sea.
Is my Jesus sleeping, that he does not see or know my soul as it is tossed with winds and storms? No, I don’t think so. But when I have days like this, when my human-ness threatens to trample my soul in discouragement, I need to figure out how to awaken the Lord and ask Him to quickly calm this sea in me and surrounding me.
My guess is that Brother Lawrence also experienced times of human-ness; weariness, stress, frustration. Yet his soul and mind were continually being transformed in his state of practicing the presence of God.
Practicing. What a fantastic word for this subject. Of course, used in this context it means “actively following a specific way of life”. But I think the other definition for practicing works well here too:
to exercise oneself by repeated performance in order to acquire skill
I must both practice the presence of God, and I also must “practice” the presence of God.
I’ll end with another, very short quote from Brother Lawrence that I think aptly applies:
“Let us make way for grace.”