Osteoporosis of the soul

Dear Elle,

There is a man in my neighborhood who is so bent with osteoporosis that he walks with his head permanently fixed at a right angle to his body, his face continually downcast. I’m sure this was not always his posture; his curved spine has robbed him of the ability he once had to lift his head and look straight ahead. Age, illness and poor habits conspired to bend him into this permanent disfigurement and disability.

As it is with his body, so it is with your soul. God’s love created you to stand upright with your countenance looking ever upward and forward. But sins done by you and done to you have bent you into a shape that you were never intended to experience. You may look at your life and see a sin-bent figure of bad habits, poor attitudes, and out of balance emotional reactions, but God sees through the bent-ness to the flawless and perfect child he chose as his own. He has not forgotten who you are!

You are a dusty and grime coated painting found in the family attic and discovered to be priceless when examined by the experts on “Antiques Roadshow!” You are a bedraggled and threadbare stuffed bear, whose true value is recognized only by the child who cherishes it! You are a ticket on the 50 yard line of the Superbowl, prized by only a true fan who would tolerate the subzero weather for the love of the game! You are God’s beloved and battered child!

It’s not that God isn’t aware of the ways sin has bent you, God’s love is not blind. It’s just that his vision of you knows the whys and the causes of your bent-ness and remembers who you were created to be. You were created to be loved perfectly. And even though your parents loved you the best they could, they fell short of perfection. Each of these violations of love harmed you, bent you. Some violations were minor and relatively reparable by forgiveness and good intentions. Some were tragic and caused extended harm and a disfigurement of some fashion, forcing a compromised physical or emotional posture.

These violations of love set you up to live defensively, either trusting no one or excessively trusting everyone. Such an out of balance, self-oriented lifestyle can only lead you to choices that in turn cause you to violate love. The sin done to you caused you to sin against others. That’s our reality.

Praise God though, that is not the end of the story. Remember, God knows the pain of having to walk bent over (imagine how his back ached while carrying that heavy cross.) We’ll talk more about this in my next letter.

With you in the journey,

Debby

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4 thoughts on “Osteoporosis of the soul

  1. P.S.

    It seems to me that there is a parallel here to humility. Isn’t being bent a sign of worship?

    Two different (opposite?) kinds of “bent-ness.” One is the free expression of worship out of gratitude and the other is the sign of returning to “the dust” from which I came, weighed down with the destructive burden of self-worship — idolatry …

    • Good question (earlier) and good thought in the PS. Perhaps straightening first requires an admission of bentness. Looking in the mirror and realizing the extent and the damage done by sin. And then looking through the mirror to the Lord of reality that exists and is seen only when we shift the focus of our gaze from our own reflection to the face of love – the lived life, the suffered cross and the victorious Jesus. When we see him, we worship, even in our bent condition. We are moved to gratitude and humility. That’s the beginning. Then I think it requires the continual practice of following the ways of love we are given in the word of Scripture. Much like a person returning to health after an injury by “enduring” the pain of physical therapy, our souls return to their original shape and function by remembering our goal (health and life), committing to the practices and then remaining humbly obedient to the process, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith.

  2. Pingback: The (de)formed self | The Mentored Life

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