Friday, May 29, 2015

I Don’t Condemn You

I Don't Condemn You

I’m thrust before you, caught in the very act,

Surrounded by dark shadows and choking dust.

I’m afraid.

Afraid that you’ll see through the coverings I’ve made for myself from the leaves of office plants and dental floss,

Paired with a sharp wit and a charming smile.

I’m afraid you’ll sense the dark, stinging liquid coursing through my veins,

Smell the rancid smoke that fills my lungs,

And see the sick desires of my heart.

I’m expecting fire to fall from the sky and render your judgment upon me.

Instead you drop to your knees and use your finger to draw in the dirt,

Silently and intently.

You draw for a long time.

The silence persists as the dust settles and the shadows leave.

The last vapor of darkness disappears from before my eyes and your gaze shifts from the art at Your feet to my face.

Your lips begin to move and I cringe,

Expecting a clap of thunder, the crackle of a blaze, and the smell of charred flesh.

Instead I hear a caring, gentle whisper asking me,

“Where are those that condemn you?”

I look around, they’ve disappeared.

But, I’m convinced that they’ll be back,

Returning in the dead stillness of the night like they always do

Starting as a whisper that steadily crescendos into a deafening chorus that sounds like my own voice.

You see, my greatest accuser, Satan, is a sick ventriloquist.

He warps and throws his own lies to make them sound as though they are coming from the top of my own throat.

I’ve heard these shameful melodies so often that I know all the words

And all too often I’ve added my own baritone drawl to the choir.

Even now I begin to hum one of those all-too-familiar choruses

But You stop me.

“It’s only you and me here,” You whisper “and I don’t condemn you.”

Your words sound too good to be true

So I begin to sing and sing loudly, louder than when I’m alone in my car and a Taylor Swift song comes on the radio

I’m hoping to drown out your gentle words and erase them from my memory.

You simply repeat what You’ve said, “I DON’T CONDEMN YOU”

At Your words the shameful choir falls silent,

The sky opens up and glorious light pours through accompanied with angelic harmonies

I finally hear Your promise

And I believe it.

I look down, the dental floss and plastic leaves are gone.

They’ve been replaced by a brilliant white robe and a glorious crown.

You help me to my feet, put Your hands on my shoulders, look into my eyes and state,

“I don’t condemn you. Go, sin no more. Be free.”

Monday, May 11, 2015

Selah: My First Lesson From 13.1

Selah. It’s a Hebrew word that shows up 73 times in the Psalms. It strikes me as odd most of the time when I come across it while reading. What’s an untranslated Hebrew word doing in my English (or Spanish) Bible? I did a little searching online, the simplest (and best) definition I found is “A call to pause and reflect”.

I need to answer the call of Selah in my life. A week ago I completed my first half marathon and one thing it made blatantly obvious is that I struggle with both parts of Selah.


It has been a legitimate struggle for me over the past week to pause and take a break from running (and serious exercise for that matter). I simply don’t feel at ease while taking a break: for instance while I’m at work I don’t take a lunch break, I simply eat my food while completing a task or in between customers at the cash register.  I don’t know when I learned to equate staying busy with self-worth but it must have been early in my life because it runs deep. Unfortunately, all it really does it leave me feeling tired and overwhelmed by all the tasks I’ve tried to cram into one 24-hour period with the hope that I’ll stay busy enough to feel valuable.

The biggest thing for me is realizing that there is a difference between pausing and quitting. Pausing implies a temporary break with the intention of continuing, while quitting is permanent. I’ve noticed that when I’m watching a movie I will hit pause to go grab snacks or use the bathroom if I’m engaged in the plot development, but if I have something playing just to “fill the void” I’ll leave the room and miss good chunks of the movie without much care. We pause when things are important. I want to continue running and biking long distances, and in order to do that I need to pause and take time to rest and recover.


Mirrors allow us to see ourselves, take stock of how we look, and make any modifications we deem necessary. I would say that I’m not overly concerned with my physical appearance but I can’t imagine even going even a day without seeing my reflection. I certainly don’t spend anywhere near the same amount of time reflecting upon my thoughts and actions as I do looking at my physical appearance in the mirror. This is probably why I don’t allow myself to rest: I don’t take time to acknowledge my own accomplishments and give myself credit where credit is due.

Over the past week I’ve struggled a lot with feeling shame about not lifting weights at the gym, going for runs, or logging training miles on my bike. I’ve needed to shout to myself “YOU JUST RAN 13.1 MILES! ALLOW YOURSELF TO REST.” A half marathon is no small feat; I forget that. I also forget that when I started running in October I would have been happy to be running 5k’s by now. On top of all that I also forget that I finished more than 2 minutes under my goal of 2.5 hours, which was a pace that I thought would push me beyond my limits even under the best circumstances.

I’ve always been terrible at rest and it has been to my detriment as an athlete and a person. The simple solution is to incorporate “Selah” into my life, set up markers within my routine that beckon me to take pause, reflect on what I’ve accomplished, and give myself permission to rest and recover in order to continue doing the things that are important to me.