When We Feel Unlovable

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As I write this prayer tip, I have to be really honest and share that I feel frustrated. Why, you may ask? Because I make mistakes—I am not perfect. Some days the Apostle Paul’s statement: “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19) really resonates with me. I have a vision of God’s best for me, yet somehow, when the rubber hits the road, I often miss the mark. As a perfectionist, this just drives me crazy! This week, as we study loving others, I can’t help but think that one of the people I fail to treat with love and compassion is often myself. Can any of you relate to this? I have such high expectations for myself; I am so unwilling to receive God’s grace and forgiveness when I fall short. When others come to me asking if they are loved and forgiven, I have a very clear sense of God’s compassionate love for them. But I struggle to make sense of the fact that I am deserving of that love. I share this, because I think that when we don’t feel we deserve God’s love, it can be painfully difficult for us to be filled with love and the Spirit to share with those around us. So what can we do about this? I think we have to be honest with ourselves about how often we consider ourselves unlovable. Second, I think it’s important that we find a person to share honestly about the mistakes we have made that leave us feeling ashamed and unlovable. Please know we Congregational Care Pastors are always here to think with you about these moments. You deserve to be freed from the sense that you are unworthy of love. I love Christ’s words in Matthew 11:28-29:  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” I sense such compassion in Jesus’ voice. This is the sort of compassion I want to learn to extend to myself. So for this week’s Prayer Tip, I challenge you to reflect at the end of each day on the moments you missed the mark. After you confess each of these moments, read Matthew 11:28-29 and remember that our God of compassion loves you. Tune out the messages of inadequacy, and open your heart to God’s great love. Amen.
-Rev. Katherine Ebling-Frazier, Congregational Care and Pastor of Prayer

Calling

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This week in the GPS, we will turn our attention to God’s call on all of our lives to be faithful disciples. When I think about discipleship, I tend to hear the resounding sound of Jesus’ voice as he gave the disciples the ultimate “pep talk”—the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).

Now, I don’t know about you, but to me this commission is inspiring and compelling. Before I am even done reading these words, I want to get up and do something, anything. Having grown up at the Church of the Resurrection, I know that I am not alone in my fiery desire to get out there and serve—to make a difference in the world. I have no doubt that this passion delights God; the world truly is aching to know the good news of God’s love.

•    Pausing here for a moment, I would challenge you to practice the spiritual discipline of imagination. Lately, I have been challenged to think about the way engaging our imaginations can be a form of prayer. If we are to have any hope of being faithful disciples, sharing God’s love with a world longing for it, I believe it is essential that we become dreamers. Ask yourself: What dreams has God given me for God’s people? How can I participate in God’s kingdom being established on earth?

Without undercutting the importance of the call on our lives to be co-laborers with God in God’s great work, at some point in my pursuit of faithful discipleship, I find that I often lose sight of the One who called me. All of a sudden following Jesus becomes about abiding by certain rules, pushing agendas, completing tasks, or even proving my own “faithfulness” to others.

It’s not surprising that many of us may find ourselves feeling this way. Our culture is centered on achievement, success and that which is bigger and better. In my own life, I am often tempted to translate my perfectionist tendencies into my life of discipleship. When I do this, I find myself exhausted, anxious, discontent, angst-y and competitive— after only a few days of trying to change the world.

The question becomes how are we to live a passionate life of discipleship without growing cynical? I think this is a question that we must wrestle with. I have found a suggestion, though, from theologian and activist Clarence Jordan. He writes: “The revolution begins with a call to be a certain kind of person.” As a dreamer, an idealist and a Christian disciple, this quote challenges me. We are called to engage in the work of changing the world, but God’s good work emerges out of us when we live into our calls to become the people God calls us to be. It may seem counterintuitive that investing our lives in prayer somehow results in action, but I believe this to be true.

•    So, at this point I invite you to practice the discipline of slowing. Remember that you are loved no matter what you do or leave undone. Take a moment to remember the One who has called you. Then ask yourself: Who is God calling you to be in this season of life? Are you called to focus on becoming more graceful, patient, gentle, peaceful, bold, hopeful? Thank God for being a God who transforms our hearts.

Ultimately, I am thankful that we follow a God who gives us a high calling. I am thankful for the mysterious way that through attending to becoming the people God has called us to be, the Spirit makes us people who are equipped to take part in transforming the world.

–Rev. Katherine Ebling
Pastor of Prayer


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