When I was young, I plastered my walls with Bible Verses. It made sense to me, and as I was learning what it meant to be a Christian in a Southern, Bible-belt town, I thought that's what we were supposed to do: to have a plethora of Bible verses at the ready, for any given circumstance. The verses I seemed to gravitate toward and hold on to were the ones that said "Do not worry" or "Do not be anxious" or "Do not fear." As a person who very much likes to be in control and who very much dislikes being surprised, these were the reminders I needed.
I'm great at sharing these verses with anxious people I encounter. I'm fabulous at reminding people that fear and anxiety is our human condition-- if there weren't a need, then the scriptures wouldn't have repeated the same reassurances over and over. Of course there is a need. We're always franctic about something. Yet, even as I'm so great at saying these powerful words, I have to acknowledge that I'm not so great at hearing them. Or maybe I hear them, and I just forget that they are meant for me too.
So I sit. Or more exactly, I flounder and writhe in my own anxiety and need to have things play out exactly as I imagined them. And when something is bigger than I am, I'm a mess. I had that happen this week. I was beyond anxious about an event. I called several people to ask them to pray. I couldn't eat. Every time I thought about it, my heart started to race. It felt like a disaster waiting to happen. If I were being honest, I'd have to say that I felt pretty alone.
But then things played out in a way that was thousands of times better than what I could've ever imagined. And I know. Those powerful words are for me too. Because it is always the case, whether I can see it or articulate it, that I too am remembered. My needs and worries and frustrations do not go unnoticed. I do not go it alone.
So maybe the words I hang on to now are different. Maybe I'll still tell myself not to worry and fret. But maybe I'll more helpfully remind myself that I am remembered. And it is enough.
"Graceland" is the name of my favorite song and album. It's by Paul Simon, but more importantly, it's what "home" sounds and feels like to me. We always listened to this album as we traveled from my home in Tennessee to my parents' childhood homes in Florida. But today, it's also a pretty good snapshot of my theology. Somewhere I really believe that the Christian journey is all about a wild trip to Grace-land. As I see it, Grace-land is the place where God is waiting to meet even us–with all the baggage and brokeness that we tote with us. Grace-land is the place where we will be received with open arms, even though our attempts at “getting it right” have been miserable failures at best. But, I think, every step we take is a step on the journey to Graceland.