This Friday my students and I got to talking, and at one point I said something about how I like working with high school kids and how I really liked working at this school. Instantly the entire class was repulsed. “Why us?”
“Wouldn’t you rather work with little kids?”
“You have a biology degree, and you use it to be with us?”
I replied “Yes I genuinely love you guys, and I like being your teacher”
Another kid replies “But we ain’t good kids”
Others added on saying “Yeah we fight, we don’t do our work, and we ain’t smart”
Then I told them that I saw their goodness, and yeah you all are not perfect, but that does not change the fact that I still want what’s best for you and for you to succeed.
As I reflected on this it was another one of those moments where my students have taught me about the immense love of the Father. I look at these students, some who refuse to do their work, and the rest have to fight tooth and nail to convince them to do their assignment. Yet I love them. I love them a lot. I find myself tearing up over the things that they have going on in their lives, excited to see them again, and sad to have to leave them at the end of the semester. Even the ones who have basically told me to screw off, I still find myself fighting for their good.
Does Christ not do the same for me? No matter how bad I am, He looks at me and sees what is good. Even when I hurt him and betray him, He still wants me. He still loves me. Yet just like those kids I find myself saying, but why me? Especially in those moments where I let pride tell me I’m past falling into the same sins. I find myself believing the lies of a toxic conversion culture that says “You found Jesus, you’re a leader, you’re not allowed to make those mistakes anymore”
And I know I’m not the only one who falls for this. I’m not the only one who struggles to be patient with myself. I’m not the only one striving, but expecting perfection. I’m not the only one who battles in their head with the thoughts of well if I just did this or wasn’t so this then I wouldn’t do that. The problem with this mindset is it focuses on you being the solution and not Christ. It builds up this toxic attitude that I have to carry my cross on my own, I have to do everything on my own. Jesus is to busy, or would be too burdened to hear that I have fallen again.
This my friends is the voice of pride. The voice that sounds like it’s building you up, when really it’s tearing you down. And it leaves you feeling stupid and inadequate. Like you’re not enough, that you are not worth loving. Yet somehow it let’s us believe that we are so close to Christ, so close that we would literally follow him unto death. When in reality it pushes us away from Christ. Our pride prevents us from even giving Him even a fragment of our cross. He can hold and cherish every other part of us, but not our cross.
It reminds me of St. Peter. He loved Jesus, and Jesus loved Him. Peter was given the keys to heaven, and he is considered the first pope. He lead men back to Christ, and now he is a Saint in heaven where his love is united to our Lord’s forever. Yet let me remind you that Peter biggest fall happened after his conversion. After he left his livelihood behind, after he saw Christ transfigured before him, and over and over said “Truly you are the Messiah.” The fall happened after, and not once, but three times. And Jesus even knew He was going to do it. He told Peter that before the cock crows you will deny me three times. Imagine Jesus looking at you right now, and saying hey I know you love me, but you will deny me three times. Not just once, but three times. In your heart you think no I won’t. I’m strong and I love you. But yet just like Peter who stood there warming himself over the fire while Christ took a beating, we deny him. We jump into these small pools of self pleasure and we deny Him. As wrong as it is to deny Christ, it’s worse to continue to deny Him by not accepting his love and mercy. When Peter denied Jesus, Jesus continued His journey to calvary. He didn’t quit because one of His best friends denied Him. No he fought for him and died for him, along with each and everyone of us. Why?
Because even though, we think we are bad, and don’t do the work we should. He still loves us and that will never change. Forgive yourself and turn to Him with arms open wide.
(If this is something you really struggle with I strongly recommend mediating on John 21:7-25)