The Perfect J

About this time of the new year I am remembering again what a louse I am. The New Year’s Resolutions are starting to wane. I said I would run a 1000 miles this year and I haven’t been to the gym in a week. Looks like I’ll be running 40 miles a day in June and July. I said I would lose 10 pounds and last night Doris made strawberry cake. When I walked by the scales this morning they growled, “Don’t even think about it.” And in my annual spiritual commitment to do better, read more, act holy I am just as weak. If performance is power then I’m a flickering 25 watt bulb.

And it is isn’t it? It is all about my performance and how well I do the right thing at the right time in the right way? And usually in front of the right people? Let’s be honest. Most of us seek to find our way to God by our performance.

Richard Rohr said, “Historically, most people naturally presumed that they would come to God by finding unique spiritual locations, precise rituals, special priests or shamans, or unique sacred words. Our correct behavior or morality around these manifestations would bring us to God or God to us. The majority of us began by looking for the right maps or laws, hoping to pass some cosmic test. The assumption was that if you got the right answers, God would like you. God’s love was highly contingent, and the clever were assumed to be the winners.”

Last night we celebrated our daughter-in-law’s birthday, Jennifer. Before she came over Doris had taken the boys, Jon-Mical and Jakson to the store and they picked out their own cards, fat cat eating a cake, ninja turtle blowing kisses. Jakson came into my office to sign his mother’s card. I gave him a pen and hard surface to write on. He leaned against the couch and, with the tip of his tongue showing his deep concentration, he signed the back of the card (not the inside of the last page—the back, where the shoebox logo is and the price is scratched out), just the way he has learned in kindergarten. J-A-K-S-O-N. And yes, there is no “c” in his name. Then he looked at me with a glow on his face. I think, “He is really loving his mommy,” or “He is so eager for her to have a great birthday.” He looks at me and back at the back of the card and says, “PoppyC, that is a PERFECT J.”

I worship like that. I come into the presence of the Almighty God, the Creator of All Things, the one who loves me and died for me and I say, “Man, I sang that song well,” or “Nailed that prayer,” or “10 days in a row on this 50 day thing, I got this.” I am far more enamored with my performance than His presence. When all He really wants is MY presence before Him.

I love this quote from Richard Rohr in Falling Upward, “If there’s such a thing as human perfection it is found precisely in how we handle imperfection, especially our own. What a clever place for God to hide holiness!” Isn’t that good. It’s not about performance. Never has been. Not about being in the right place, doing it the right way, dressing in the right garb and saying the right words. It is just about showing up. Just about being.

The 2nd Step of the 12 Steps says, “We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity if we asked Him to.” Most old time 12 Steppers will break that down to say, “We came to believe.” “We came to.” And “We came.” Just showing up is the key.

So today the lesson is there is great power in your presence, in the fact that you just give it a shot. You might be 12 chapters behind and can’t remember the Lord’s Prayer. Doesn’t matter. All God wants is your presence. Your willingness to just be. And you can do that. I can.
Now excuse me while I go practice my J’s!

Love you guys,

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