By Kaitlyn Dagen.
The church sings David Crowder's hymn "Come As You Are” together in worship and I am suddenly overcome with the profound weight of grace in this statement. For me, it’s easy to quickly pawn off these sentiments onto other people: Come as you are, it doesn't matter where you're at, you won't be judged here. I accept you, you are forgiven, you are loved. But this time, as I learn to live amongst the push and pull of both worldly and self-induced double standards, I let this sense of acceptance wash over my own guilt, my own confusion, hurt, pride, fear, and shortcomings.
Today, I am the one in desperate need of this reminder.
Today, the voices of Fear and Disappointment take my hand and pull me to the left, saying, "Kaitlyn, come this way. It’s safe over here. Your dreams will never come to fruition. You will never be able to make them happen. You have failed. It’s not in you.”
I look to the right as my other hand is pulled in the opposite direction, the voices of Pain and Confusion saying, "Yes, Kaitlyn, come this way. You deserved all that has unfolded. Everything you had is now gone — the people, the opportunities, the experiences. You care so much, but for what? Put your guard back up and you won’t get hurt again.”
I wrestle as my arms are pulled in both directions. I am bound and unmoving. It can be easy to give in and justify the voices on both sides of this internal argument; to allow them to become a truth about me. Sometimes they mean well. My arms get tired. I long so badly to be free of them. If I'm feeling strong, I might try to stay and fight them off for a while. Yet the more I try to fight them off, the more I have to struggle.
But what would happen if I stopped paying attention to these adversaries? That's all they want — attention. If only I would stop struggling, stop giving life to the voices that pull me in multiple directions.
I squint my eyes as they catch something straight ahead in the distance. It has been there the whole time, but I have been too distracted to notice. This voice is not a forceful thing; it quietly and patiently beckons us. It’s softer, sweeter. It weeps as it watches the inner struggle against the deceptions that seek to entwine us.
Why do I so quickly forget that the real Voice, the real Truth, is straight ahead of me? As I center my gaze upon it, it gently says, "Come as you are, it doesn't matter where you're at, you won't be judged here. I accept you, you are forgiven, you are loved."
The grip on my wrists loosen.
Even if our arms are being pulled to the right and to the left, may we continue to walk forward with our eyes, ears, and hearts fixed straight ahead, like the gaze of a Son who looked to his Father as his arms were pulled to the right and to the left, hands nailed down to a tree, three days away from liberation.
Kaitlyn is learning to embrace the community that surrounds her home in Lancaster City, Pennsylvania. While her home base is in Pennsylvania, at heart she is a creative nomad always looking for the next big adventure. She has a B.A. in Anthropology from Eastern University, and will forever be pondering the beauty of culture and the meaning of our humanity. She works with adults with disabilities, and enjoys serving among local refugees in Lancaster City. She founded and curates The Mustard Seed Conspiracy, a fledgling project that seeks to unite spiritual and creative reflectives. You can follow her on Instagram @themustardseedconspiracy.