Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
There’s nothing like starting the week with a confession.
When I see you in the airport, toddler bumping around your ankles, I don’t stop and help you. You are looking for a bag, maybe a carseat. Justin has our kids looking for our bags off the luggage carousel, too, and I am stationed to watch our stuff.
What you grab from the luggage is big, wrapped in thick blue plastic, and you are a bit frantic, anxious. I remember that stage–when I had three little ones under four years old pushing up against my legs, making it impossible to walk in a straight line. I know it is hard. But I don’t help you all the same.
Maybe you don’t need help. Maybe you are fine. Maybe you have your act together and are adept at juggling your little guy and your luggage all on your own. Or maybe you aren’t.
This is what we both know: I don’t ask you if you need help. And when you bump into me from behind with the big blue bag that you realize isn’t yours and you are putting back onto the bag carousel and you say “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry,” I don’t say a thing. I only think about how being hit with a big bag is annoying. I don’t think about how you are struggling. I don’t think about how I have a choice, then, to love you or not, think about you more than myself, or not.
I confess: I don’t even consider loving you. I just think about me.
I could have helped. I could have smiled. I could have looked you in the eyes. I could have said I understand; it’s no big deal; how can I help you? But I don’t. I don’t try to love you at all. I am irritated.
And then Justin gets the bags all lined up, and I join my family and walk away.
I walk away. And I could have loved you, instead.
That was Tuesday.
On Thursday, I am in a pottery shop with the kids. There are painting mugs to be glazed, the four of us at a table crowded with paint containers and brushes bouqueted in ceramic jars. You are a high schooler, with two friends next to you who brush pale blue circles onto deep, round bowls. You see your bowl differently, and you keep the background white, a backdrop to a garden of wildflowers on the bottom edge. It is beautiful, and I wonder if you will put it on your desk, where you can see it when you do homework. Or if you will use it for soup, or for ice cream, and if it will make you smile when you remember how you sat here, one day, with your friends, during ski week, and you painted beauty onto bright white sky.
I notice how you take such care to let the paint dry between coats, letting each green stem not blend with the pale yellow of the petals. I want to paint like that.
We are there–you, with your friends, and me, with my kids–in the ceramics shop, for almost two hours. Painting pottery can take a while. But I don’t see you when you come behind me and go to the paint shelf to grab another color. I am helping Abby decide which stencil to use, and when the paint bottle flies out of your hand when you are trying to shake it and it hits me in the neck, I see the look of surprise and horror in your eyes. You are mortified.
You flush bright red, and say “I’m so sorry” and scurry back over to your friends, head bent low. I know you want to hide. And here I am, the mom at the table right next to you, with her three kids, whom you accidentally hit in the back of the head with a plastic bottle of paint. So embarrassing.
It was okay.
But I don’t tell you it was. I don’t reassure you. I don’t go over to you and say it is no big deal.
I don’t smile at you; I don’t tell you I understand; I get it; I drop things all the time. I just let you go back to your chair and keep painting and whisper to your friends how you can’t believe what you just did.
I know. I am embarrassed, now, too, but for another reason.
I confess: I am far from the person I want to be.
My first reaction when I am wounded? Me. My first thoughts when I get up in the morning? Me. What I need to get done. What I want to achieve. How I feel. How much sleep I’ve had and if I feel rested. My first thoughts when I am injured? How did this happen? Who can I blame?
I confess there is less love in me than I want to admit. I confess there is more selfishness in me than I want to see.
But I want to keep seeing. I want to see all the things in me that are different than Jesus. I don’t want to be blind to how I am hurting people when my first reaction is me rather than love.
This life is too short, too amazing, too precious, too miraculous, to keep my eyes on me. I want to love with Jesus’ love. I want to practice how he looked at people, how He saw them, how He spoke with kindness and acted with compassion and reacted to all situations with a soft heart–the heart of the Father in Him.
Holy Spirit, come. I give to you these mistakes. Father, I give to you my selfish heart. Jesus, I give to you my heart of stone. Yes, come. God, give me a new heart of flesh.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).
I confess here, with you, my friends, because I want this to be a place where we can be real with one another. With God at the center of where we gather together, we are safe–for He is safe. I am so thankful for His love, for His love for me despite how I mess up, again and again.
How are you beginning your week? What, here, might God be inviting you, in community, to confess?
This post appeared originally at GatherMinistries.com