let it happen: the fruit of a new look at your sin

It can start with a simple yes. A willingness. A bend of the head. Or knee. It definitely starts with a melting. A softening. It starts with loosening the grip. A slow fall. A slipping into waves. A recognition that the depths are near but not discovered. An allowance of yes and yes and yes. Let it all happen. Let what needs to fold out–out of you–as you are folded open, be wide wide wide.

I am not superstitious. But careful. When there is a journey. A message to read. A relaxing into water crashing, crashing me under. Where I need to be. Where I belong. (I want to belong.)

And I look at my sin. Feel it and not feel it. Observe it from afar, like a scientist, an observer. And then move around in it, let it sit on top of me, smother me for a bit, and then feel my lungs expand as it is lifted and I breathe again. I didn’t know I was holding my breath–that under its weight I could never breathe.

Let it happen. Let it happen. Let the sin cover you and feel it released. Look at it, its insides and outsides, its toxicity and vomiting of noise and torture. It wants to hold you, wrap you up and strangle you, press you from the inside out so you are disorientated, unwired. Make you lose what was yours in the beginning. Before you were born. Before it slunk in, wrapped itself around the inside part of you and squeezed, squeezed, squeezed.

And you can stand. In the looking and the feeling. You can withstand the pain because it isn’t you anymore. You can feel, the weight of it, if you want to. It is good to feel it sometimes. To remember what you are capable of. Always. Right now. 

And you notice that the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair came behind him, not before. She was behind, behind, behind. Because she saw herself and knew who she was. She broke. Wide open. Tears spilling. It is good to know who you are, with, and without God.

I have spent this last week looking, again, at my sin. For me, the theme of almost all of my sin is deceit. I have covered and hid and disguised and run away and ignored and pretended. I have not wanted to look at it. I have wanted to believe I am enough without God.

Rather than being defined by our sin and our shame, we can look at it separate from ourselves. Jesus sees the sin. And yet He loves us. The Pharisees saw sin and judged people as unfit to be loved. It is good to feel the weight of our sin, to feel its consequences, to feel this sting, this pain, and not run away. But we can only do this–have the fortitude and strength to stand before it–if we let ourselves be loved. I have stood in front of my sin (I have asked God to show the specific occasions of sin to me, though I know there is more for me to see), and I have let myself feel the separation from God because of it. It is a wild experience–and not easy, not fun. But beautiful. Because it is only through the recognition of my sin that I can begin to grasp, a little more deeply, the vast love of God.

For the Loop Poetry Project this week, will you join me in choosing a very specific moment you sinned–or maybe an ongoing sinful situation you participated in–and documenting it through a poem? I believe there is fruit for us in looking at the sin objectively, as well as emotionally. Describe the situation through image and detail. Delve into the emotions you are feeling–either at the time or even now, as you write. Take any vantage point you want, including writing in the third-person if you want; it might help you write if you feel a bit removed from the scene. Or you can write from the first-person point of view and let yourself go back to that moment, feeling and remembering and accessing the deeper places in your heart.

I am praying for you now as you write, as you trust, as you surrender, as you ask for His help. Jesus will navigate you. Trust that He has good for you now. And healing. And new life. And hope.

With much love and gratitude,

Jennifer


Hot Tamales

The wood slats of the chair push into the small of my back. I creep my fingers between the top of my desk in the back of the room, my fingertips memorizing a small box’s smoothness. It’s full of hot tamales I begged my mom to buy for me yesterday when we went to the store. The classroom has a hot-kid smell that fills the still air. The kids around me are bent over their desks, their pencils copying down spelling words on beige brown paper, not the good kind with clear blue lines and crisp whiteness, the kind with holes for binder rings, but the kind that is cheap and thin and tears easily with the rub of an eraser after you’ve made a mistake. You have to be careful. I watch Mrs. Lasley at her desk, cat-eye glasses pointed down as she grades papers, stapling a sticker in the top left corner for assignments deserving praise. We put them in our sticker boxes inside our desks. Scratch-n-sniff. Puffy. Fuzzy. Smooth. Shiny-metallic with glitter. I like them all. With both hands hidden, I punch a hole in the box with a pencil—it isn’t easy—and I wrap one finger and one thumb around one of the candies, caressing a single red pill before I bend my head and open my mouth and quickly pop it inside. It is chewy, stickier than I was prepared for. I can’t swallow it quickly. I must chew it, the stickiness gluing to my molars and the cinnamon burning my tongue. I imagine I am a dragon breathing fire from my nose. I am not relaxed. And then Mrs. Lasley, from her desk, speaks my name. She calls it out in the middle of the quiet and everyone looks up, curious and searching. Are you eating? Her eyes are on me. She is kind, the teacher I love. I tell her no. My face burning now. And she doesn’t press me. But her eyes penetrate me, seeing through me, seeing who I am. She believes I tell the truth or wants me to think I think she does. And I die a bit right then. Even now the effort to not lie to you is exhausting.

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com