How are you today? Have you taken a moment to check in with yourself today? This week? This month? As school begins back, as the summer days come to a close, are you excited or dreadful? As we, as a church, face another transition in staff leadership, do you feel drained and depleted from so much change? As you look at your life and relationships and the world around you, would you consider yourself empty or full?
In my last two reflections, I shared a couple of practices that help keep me full -- gratitude and sabbath. When I look at life with the eyes of gratitude, and when I am rested and renewed, I am a better able to love myself and others. I am a more faithful follower of Jesus Christ.
But I have to confess, sometimes I fall short of being the person I want to --and am called to-- be.
Why, after 30+ years of following Christ, do I still struggle with some of the same things? Shouldn’t I be better at slowing down, stopping all the busyness, and simply “being” a child of God? Will I ever learn that judgement keeps me from experiencing God in someone who isn’t like me?
In Philippians 2:5-11, Paul says Jesus emptied himself and became human. Though he was equal to God, Jesus became one of us: human, like you and like me. The Message reads, “It was an incredibly humbling process.” Humbling and transformational.
Because Jesus became human he understands our plight. Jesus faced temptation. He experienced pain. He knew our struggle. And so he doesn’t look upon us with harsh eyes. He gazes at us with compassion. With love. With grace.
When I begin to look at myself with the eyes of Christ, a different picture emerges. I see a child of God who desires faithfulness, who is willing to confess her sins, and seek the strength of Christ living in her. With confidence in Christ’s compassion, I can extend it to myself. And as it shapes me, it begins to transform the way I see others.
If you ever struggle with looking at yourself or others with the eyes of compassion and grace, I invite you to let this be your prayer.
Prayer: Give me courage, Gracious God, to see myself as you see me, and to extend that grace to all I meet. Amen.
Kristin Clark-Banks is the pastor of Forest Hills UMC.