1:54 AM. You’re lying in bed. The ceiling has been your view for the past 2 hours and your blankets are starting to feel like your skin.
You’ve run the course with God. You’ve been here, dozens of times. This very spot: nearly 2 AM, your eyes and heart equally heavy but your brain refusing to quit. All your tabs are open. All your wishes, dreams, desires, prayers, longings, frustrations, sorrows, joys, questions, and inquiries out on the table.
These walls are confining, the walls that hold you in. There’s a series of walls we’ve got to break through in our stretch of life, and the very first one starts in our bedroom. We grow up in the sweet safety of these walls, returning home each night to sleep in the walls that keep you. Whatever troubles occurred in that day are too silly to really ponder on prior to falling asleep. A very small portion of your mind space is spent considering the actuality of your hearts’ deepest desires coming true when you still live in the safe walls of your bedroom.
Then you move away from home. Whatever this looks like for you, your mind separated your “home” from a specific place to more of an idea as you aged. It’s unfortunate but it’s inevitable, and when it does happen, returning to our childhood walls that we previously graduated from makes us revert to our childhood ways, somehow.
This short conversion is quickly met with a realization of the conversion, which is met with horror, and soon after, a propelling of thought begins. This is where the dangerous, 1:54 AM, ceiling staring contest begins. It’s where two worlds collide and we begin to really unravel inside.
When two sets of walls mean so much to you, how can you make them simultaneously important in your heart when you can’t be physically in both?
When you mature past your childhood, how can you retain some of the innocence from when you were young?
Will I ever reach the aspirations that my childhood self dreamt up in this very same room?
It’s a time of relaxation filled with pressure.
Pressure to make realistic goals and stick to them. Pressure to meet your parents’ expectations as well as your own. Pressure to not set your own standards too high prior to entering a new season– because you’ve learned, when you do this, you only end up disappointed.
It’s this gap between two semesters where your heart is most churned. You find yourself deeply pondering on the person who you were in high school, and wondering, are you different now? Because you feel like you are. You notice the subtleties in your heart, emotions and twinges that weren’t there before. You feel more grace-filled, softer around the edges, not as squirrelly. Kinder.
Or maybe you’ve found yourself hardening. You’re growing bitter at the things you haven’t gotten to be apart of. You’re spent with emotion and a continuous feeling of trying in futility. You want so much more than what you have, but it’s not even like you can place your finger on how, exactly, to get there. There’s no step-by-step guide, there’s no rulebook, there’s no place to put your concerns in the suggestion box as a way for your heartaches to be redeemed.
Or. Maybe you’re a little bit of both. Maybe you’re filled with this genuine, deep understanding at God’s timing, yet frustrated when it’s taking too long. Maybe you’re a little more sad than happy. Maybe you’re a little more happy than sad, but you still feel the sadness there and you wish it wouldn’t linger.
To the one who feels like they have to be perfect: you don’t. From head to toe, you’re really doing just fine.
Even when you study so hard for this test and end up getting a D, you’re really doing just fine.
Even when you don’t know how to start or even carry on a conversation with a person who you really want to be friends with, you’re really doing just fine.
Even when you accidentally slip and say, “You too!” to the guy behind the counter at the movie theater who says “Enjoy the movie!” and it seems like you’ll never recover, you’re really doing just fine.
Who came up with these earthly standards to measure ourselves up to? When was it decided that we would most likely spend a great deal of our lives in insecurity because we can never achieve a level of perfection that we so desire?
Friends, there is no such image that should drive us other than the image to mirror God’s love. It says it right there: in 1 Peter 4:8. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
For emphasis, it says it again in John 13:34-35. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
This "command" was new because it set a new standard for the disciples: love as I have loved you. To quote author John H. Sailhamer in his NIV Bible Commentary: "This is the one rule of faith that defined the disciples as a believing community. This love is the fruit of the Spirit that dwells within their souls."
Remember this: the final, redeeming, and sole standard Jesus set for His people amidst the Last Supper was this: to love. Be love for others and embody the Spirit. He doesn't ask us to reach a manmade level of perfection. He doesn't ask us to have an Instagram feed that rivals your best friends'. He doesn't ask us to be the most intelligent, the most beautiful, the most anything other than the most likely to show love in a room full of crowded people.
Immerse yourself in this truth. Know that this truth alone is what drives your faith, and don't be threatened or disheartened by the ways of the world because those ways are impure. They don't carry love--which is the only thing we need to carry into eternity.