If God grades on a guilt system, then I want to be upfront with you, my house in heaven is going to be sick. I don’t know if we’re still judging things by their proximity to “the hook,” but if we are, you should consider my heaven house to be “off.” There’s going to be waterslides, everywhere. Not just in the pool, but between rooms. You want to get a Capri Sun from the kitchen? Hop on a waterslide. You want to go watch CS Lewis arm wrestle Aragorn from Lord of the Rings in the Ruckus Room? Hop on a waterslide.
That last thought didn’t even make sense. What’s a fictional character doing in heaven? Am I really going to call my living room the “Ruckus Room” because that’s where the Ruckus happens and the floor is made of trampoline and the walls are made of blue cotton candy and to get in you have to open presents and watch old episodes of So You Think You Can Dance? Yes, that is exactly what I am going to do, especially if the amount of shame we inflict on ourselves has anything to do with how big our mansion is in heaven.
If self-induced shame is calculated at all into the blueprints of the beyond, my house is going to be a lot bigger than yours, because I am amazing at guilt.
Even as I write this, I’m feeling guilty. It’s like an out of body guilt experience. I’m feeling guilty about something as I write about guilt. Just phenomenal.
My greatest source of shame, the record I like to spin the most is called, “The Ways Jon Lets God Down.” Have you ever heard that one? It’s got some jams on it, including:
1. Jon should know better by now but still makes the same mistakes.
2. Jon gets arrogant when something good happens and only comes to God when life is raining.
3. Jon wrestles with the simplest elements of faith and will never be a good enough Christian.
I could go on and on, it’s an album I’m really familiar with, but lately, it’s getting harder to play it. Lately, as I’ve started to explore my shame with God, I’ve started to think that maybe God sees my shame and desire to beat myself into submission with guilt differently than I do. Maybe if I asked Him, what He thought, He’d say:
“What if you struck yourself in the head with a chain every time you felt guilty or ashamed for letting me down? What if, you physically punished yourself every time you were not perfect? What if the self abuse was physical and external, instead of mental and internal? Would the scars cry for help? Would the pain you were causing yourself seem cruel and unnecessary? Would your heart break if you watched that person? This is what I see when I watch you Jon.
My son, my son, who told you that the crucifixion was not over?
Who told you that is what I require? That is not me. My blood debt was paid long ago. And yet, you bleed. With the knife of good intentions you cut and try to edit out the parts of yourself you imagine I’ll not like. You slice and cut and bleed and fall and hurt.
I see it all. And I grieve. I grieve the joy you’re missing. I grieve the lies you’re believing. I grieve. I grieve. Stop, please stop.”
I didn’t really want to write that today. It’s been sitting in my five star notebook since December 10. And saying the word “blood” is one of those Christian words that kind of make you look like a snake handler. You’ll never hear a rapper at the Grammy’s or an athlete throwing out a verbal high five to God say, “Big shout out to God. Thank you for the blood of Christ.”
I probably look like a complete Christian freak right now. But I never realized that by beating myself up, I was putting on a parade of pain before the Lord as a way to enter His presence. And I never really thought about that hurting Him. Not because He’s disappointed, but because He loves me. Madly, passionately, unabashedly, He loves us.
So let’s put down the chains. Your house in heaven is going to be big enough and you’re more than welcome to use my Ruckus Room. I promise.