This is more of a journal entry than anything. Welcome to my mind. Or my soul or my spirit or whatever this part of me is that feels deeply.
I went into work today at 5:30 am. My building normally has a small amount of traffic even that early, but it didn’t today. I hadn’t even remembered that it was Saturday until I got there and noticed the emptiness—the days run together when you work weekends. As I began to ascend the stairs to the top floor, I realized that I hadn’t seen a single other person on my way in. I do most of my thinking on those stairs, because the stairwell is usually the only place I’m left alone during the day. The stairs are actually faster than the elevators—several times I’ve arrived on the top floor sooner than my colleagues who were waiting for a ride from the bottom (and who likely stopped at most floors on the way up). Even though elevators might give me more time to think, my thoughts would be interrupted by polite greetings, small-talk, and well-wishes for the day as colleagues enter, ride to their floors, and exit. The stairs are my hiding place.
As soon as my subconscious mind recognized the privacy of the stairs (which were far more private today than they are Monday through Friday), my thoughts came quickly and with greater intensity than they do on days when occasional distant footsteps might echo through the stairwell along with mine. What was the content of my thoughts? I’m not even sure I can explain it. It was sort of an odd self-assessment. It was not invited, and it was painful—but I’m glad it happened.
I’m not who I want to be.
An army of tears infiltrated my eyes and threatened to overcome the surface tension that held them in. I’m not who I want to be. Although this realization was unpleasant, the fact that I had insight at all gave me hope for change. I’m not who I want to be, and I’m not who I used to be. So who am I?
Above all, I am prideful. I put my desires above those of others, and it comes so naturally to me that I don’t even have to consciously decide to do it. I have been silent when I should have spoken up. I have been loud and opinionated when I should have been silent. I have fought too hard when I should have surrendered. I have given up when I should have kept fighting. I have burned bridges that I should have reinforced. I have allowed doors to be placed where I should have built fortresses. I have been sarcastic when I should have been sensitive. I have been too sensitive when I should have let go. I have been rebellious when I should have followed. I have followed when I should have turned back. I’m not who I want to be. I’m not who I used to be.
But I’m not who I’m going to be. I think I grew up as I climbed the stairs today. You probably wouldn’t notice, and I still have a long way to go—hopefully five or more decades of wisdom to acquire. But the weight of my childishness pressed down on me as I ascended, and it kind of broke me. As I climbed higher, I didn’t get any closer to an understanding of who God is. I didn’t hear his voice; I didn’t sense his presence. But my heart did become soft enough, malleable enough to bend at the neck and look at itself. And it broke when it realized what it had become without Jesus.
I’m not trying to use my apostatical decline in character as evidence that God exists—it is insufficient for that purpose. What I think it does reveal is that my belief in God was very real to me and changed the way that I lived for the better. I want to live that way again—to reshape my heart into something recognizable at least, if not beautiful. The task seems almost impossible. I’m a mess. My heart is grotesque, even chimeric. But it has to happen. I can’t keep using bitterness about lost faith as an excuse to be a selfish child. I can’t keep letting anger toward a silent God overwhelm the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. It’s time to grow up, regardless of what I believe. It’s far past time.
By the time I reached the top floor, my body had little left to offer, and my heart had nothing—so much had changed in two or three minutes of intense introspection on the stairs. And when I consider the recent condition of my heart, I think this is the best place to start. If there is no God, I still have to grow up—I still have to be broken down. And if he really is there—the greatest story ever told starts with him creating a miracle out of nothing.
God, I bring you nothing—because it’s everything I have. Please, please do something with it.