We were created to be relational beings. But then the Fall came and with it sin and broken relationships. In the first few chapters of Genesis, there’s guilt, shame, blameshifting, and even fratricide. From there, things get a whole lot worse until God sends Jesus, his beloved Son, to die for a world embroiled in pride and self-absorption. Entering into this world, Jesus subjected himself to the excruciating, humiliating pain of the cross, a cruel form of Roman punishment reserved for thieves and murderers. Now he has arisen, proving his deity, and we Christians are called to follow in his steps. But relationships are still messy. And that unbridled openness that Adam and Eve had with God, prior to the Fall, will never be the same again in this life.
Opening up is not easy. “What would people think if I really said what was on my heart?” I’ve thought. “Will I be mocked, rejected, or belittled? It’s just not worth the risk.” Some of my students say that every coin has two sides, that is, each position has its benefits and risks. Well, I’ve realized that the benefits of opening up greatly outweigh the seeming benefits of holding it in. Although there may seem to be safety and security in holding back your fears, it truly is liberating to share your worries with someone who cares for you. I’ve certainly failed to open up more than I would like to admit, but when I have, it has proven to be a blessing for me, and I hope for others too.
Sadly I know I will regress. Sometimes I wish life were more like a sprint than a marathon. You struggle and strain for about 10 seconds or so and then the pain translates into elation at the finish line. And you’re done. Instead, you’re in a marathon where there’s always another hill to ascend or another mile to complete, where your lungs are screaming for air and your mind is convincing you of your insanity (at least that’s how I envision myself in a marathon). There is an end, but you don’t even know whether you’ll reach the finish line.
Life may be tough, regression may be inevitable, but at least I can fight back, with God’s help of course. While the image of a knight encased in his armor has its merits, there seems to be a dearth of knights in China and America too. Instead I think of Rocky, the gritty, raw boxer, who often faced stronger, more experienced opponents that should have trounced him, yet he stubbornly prevailed. By the Spirit’s power, we Christians can fight too. We can fight against our selfish natures. We can fight against our stubborn pride. We can fight against hopelessness and despair in our lives. Until we die, we can and we must fight. Although we may lose some battles against our relentless Enemy, we know who has won the war for us. So let’s not give up hope in this arduous journey, because we know that in the end, God wins.