Forgetting How To Be, Reclaiming How To Breathe


I met with my counselor the other day, a semi-famous mega-church pastor here in town, and I had really forgotten what it’s like to be around someone who is so comfortable with himself that it made me comfortable with myself.

My counselor is one of those cool pastors who smokes cigars and uses dirty words and he used to be a rich drug dealer, so he owns this huge house and hosts these extravagant church parties with hundreds of curious people looking for real spirituality. He does this without even really trying to impress anyone, and with sort of a wink. Once I was leaving his office after a meet and he yells down the hallway of his church, “I’ll keep praying about your porn problem.” The very conservative staff glanced at me and I ran and he couldn’t stop laughing.  My counselor reminds me of Jesus.

So I told him everything. How I blew up on someone the other day. How I was juggling multiple ministries plus a growing blog.  How dissatisfied I was with the mainstream church.  How I haven’t talked to my dad in over a year.  How I was fighting anger and unforgiveness and lust. How I always felt like I was pouring out of an empty cup, and that the same grace I preached for others was almost never reserved for myself.

I told him I had this monster inside me, barely underneath the surface just coiled around my guts, and just when I thought I was making “Christian progress” and it was dead, it would lash out and destroy everything I love and then go right back to hiding.  I wanted this thing inside me to really, truly, eternally die.

Then he looks at me and says, “You’re not really walking with God.”
I was almost offended.  But he was right.  He went on.

“You’re doing so much, just do, and you lost who you are.  You find who you are, then you can do again.”

“So what do I do now?”  As soon as I said it, I heard it.  I said “do” again.
He said, “Pray.  I mean we’re both in ministry, you already know that.  But you see how we’re talking?  How you can tell me anything?  How I can just be me around you?  That’s prayer.  Praying is like breathing.  It’s a way of life that can happen all the time.  That’s walking with Him.”

I think I was trying not to weep. I remember when it was like that, when I felt like I was walking with Him all the time. When being with God was like breathing. I did want that again. And it was not a matter of doing, but being.

He said, “It’s okay to pour out when you’re empty. You can’t do that for a long time, but that’s grace. You can preach grace all day and be a legalist to yourself.  Quit listening to yourself and listen to Him. And don’t preach too far ahead of yourself. If it’s been hard, then preach that it’s been hard.”

We hugged for a long time. He told me he loved me. Before we parted, he said, “I wish I could tear that monster out of you.  Let God inside, and He will.”

— J.S.

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18 thoughts on “Forgetting How To Be, Reclaiming How To Breathe

  1. Thanks for sharing this! After coming back from a one week silent retreat, I reflected on the richness I got from that time with the Lord. One of the themes that I got is recapped in To Do VS To Be. The same kind of idea you write about. We need to remember (and I tell myself this too) that the ultimate source to fill our cup is the everlasting love of Jesus. To Be with Jesus and to Psalm 46:10… to be still and KNOW He is God.
    Anyways, who is that counselor? Or were you using an analogy to describe talking with Jesus?… (except Jesus would be able to tear that monster right out!) I found this post refreshing. Thank you for sharing and God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right on. I think I’ve heard so many sermons on “being” versus “doing,” but then I try to “do” those sermons too, hah.
      The counselor shall go unnamed, he is quite the popular pastor here in Florida. 🙂

      Like

  2. This post is beautiful. There is a French expression, jolie laide, which translates to “pretty ugly” or “ugly beautiful.” It usually is used in reference to someone being oddly beautiful because of the crooked line of their nose, or the too-wide eyes. It hints at a complexity within the definition of beauty that is often more conventional than not. In our faith walk, every good “saint” has their monsters. I have read NOTHING by any one of the many Christians I admire. For me, Corie Ten Boom and George Muller rank tops. These are people who lived in a time when it seems like it would have been easier to be “good” than it is today with technologically accessible sin at the click of a mouse. And both of them, when you read their autobiographical accounts, they both speak of their disappointment at their lack of faith, their monsters. I look at them and everything they “did” and I think, “How can they possibly have any monsters? How they think their faith is amiss?”

    People look at you, I’m sure, and they’ll think the same thing. “He does so much, he’s got such faith!” No monsters in sight. Our monsters keep us real, don’t they? Because they point to the ugly that we are. Broken. Sinners. But that ugly is made beautiful by Him. Isn’t it? The ugly that we are – the crooked nose, the wide-set eyes – is made beautiful in Him.

    Thanks for stripping down to ugly so we could see the beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love that French expression you mentioned, absolutely great.

      I do wish some of the more “famous” Christians were more honest about their ugliness inside. Not to enable others or to give permission to pamper, but really just so that grace could be found in such honesty. Otherwise, we’re all just prettying up a mannequin in a sort of manic race for looking real spiritual.

      And you know, when I think of our older Christian heroes, I have to admire them. People like C.S. Lewis and John the Baptist didn’t have air-conditioners. It’s tough to be a saint in a hot room.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Reminds me of the Casting Crowns song
        “Are we happy plastic people?
        Under shiny plastic steeples
        With walls around our weakness
        And smiles to hide our pain”

        Thanks for always being real! Sharing your weakness helps me to find strength!

        Like

  3. Thanks for showing me that it’s okay for life to be hard. Grace for others, the law for me, “do more, try harder;” only works for so long before I will implode. I appreciate your willingness to be real, it gives me courage to do the same. 🙂

    \o/

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post. I haven’t felt the fullness of God…the fullness of anything, really…for a long time. It bothers me to no end and I don’t know what to do about it. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who gets like that sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

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