This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'"
~ Matthew 6:9 - 13
It's hard to think that we would do something that we regret, then ask for forgiveness, and then find that we are back doing the same thing again, but we do. In the prayer Jesus taught those around him are the words "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." They are the reminder that we simply need help. I have never lost my way on a trip, nor had to stop and ask someone for directions (yeah, this is complete fiction at this point), but if I had (which I have), then I begin to own something about myself.
Owning our journey, or the things that we have done, simply means that we are finding ways to own ourselves. When we own ourselves we are letting others know that we recognize when we need forgiveness, but also, when we are speaking our truth to one another.
Years ago I remember meeting with a family after the death of a family member. As the man's ex-wife and children began to share, suddenly there was this outpouring of all the terrible things this man had done to them during his life time. It was painful to hear of his abuse, and I suddenly realized that this man's death was liberating them from their "secrets." I knew that they were owning their pain, and breaking the silence that they had kept for decades. I quickly realized that the funeral was not going to be a place where glowing remarks were made of a man, but instead, would be focused on the importance of seasons ending, and the need for new ones beginning, filled with love, sacred places where their lives could be lived in truth, and their ability to own their own story without fear.
Owning ourselves means that we love ourselves enough to know who we are, and that when we struggle, we know that the love of God will never lead us to a place where we fail to belong.
When we are able to listen to others share of themselves, without fear of shame or guilt, then we learn more about ourselves as well. "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil," was not just for those living two millennium ago. It is the reminder for us today to own ourselves and our journey. That we are to focus on who we are, while knowing that there will always be those things that may, and will, get in the way of being who God wants us to be. When we fail, we don't waste our days filled with "if I had only done," or "I should have," statements. Own yourself and your journey, will always be sacred work.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.