One of my most profound “God-moments” came at a time when I wasn’t in the habit of noticing God’s voice. I was in church. Uncomfortable in my huge questions. A stress-ball. Feeling lost and inadequate.
All of a sudden, the words of Ani DiFranco’s song “As Is” came singing through my mind.
And I’ve got
No illusions about you
And guess what?
I never did
And when I said
When I said I’ll take it
I meant as is
I started to cry. As is?
Can God’s voice really sound like Ani’s?
As is, as is, as is, as is, as is rang through my heart and mind.
Whatever it was, I was experiencing Grace. A first step toward something different.
Thinking about logs and specks[i] the other day got me thinking some more.
I started thinking about As Is. I’ve had a hard time believing it. I find myself thinking: I’ve got to be something; I’ve got to be perfect. Here, let me work on these logs in my eyes before I come to you God. Let me get my stuff all worked out before I show up, world.
Most often, when I’ve heard the story about the logs and specks I focus inward: “What logs are in my eyes?” “What needs to go?” What do I need to change?” “How am I messed up and wrong?” Maybe some of these questions are necessary at some time, but I wonder if I’m missing the point of the story. Before Jesus spoke of the specks and the logs, he began with “Do not judge.”
What if I need to start with myself? Offering grace, rather than my critical spotlight. I like to think that I am gentler with others than I am with myself. But is that really, deep-down possible?
When I realize that As Is, is all I can do,
and As Is, is all that you can do,
and that really is enough for now,
Maybe it starts with my heart.
Maybe your heart will feel it too.
Freedom from expecting myself to be perfect.
Allowing you freedom to be imperfect.
Realizing that the work of the soul and transformation is mystery and cannot be rushed.
It is happening. We can let it happen. I don’t know that we can make it happen. But we can show up.
I extend you grace, as you figure out how to make your way in this world.
Maybe, you can extend me grace, as I figure out how to make my way in this world.
And I think I am going to begin by offering grace to myself as well. Isn’t that what God does?
“Like any true mirror, the gaze of God receives us exactly as we are, without judgment or distortion, subtraction or addition. Such perfect receiving is what transforms us. Being totally received as we truly are is what we wait and long for all our lives. All we can do is receive and return the loving gaze of God every day, and afterwards we will be internally free and deeply happy at the same time. The One who knows all has no trouble including, accepting, and forgiving all. Soon we who are gazed upon so perfectly can pass on the same accepting gaze to all others who need it. There is no longer any question “Does he or she deserve it?” What we received was totally undeserved itself.”[ii]
[i] See Matthew 7:1-6. This is where Jesus asks why we notice the speck in someone else’s eye while ignoring the planks or logs in our own eyes.
[ii]Richard Rohr, Falling Upward, p. 159-60.
If you feel like listening to Ani sing you can find As Is on youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYe2NhwXhqk