Behold who you are,
Become what you receive.
The words of St. Augustine help me understand the Eucharist more than ever. That the point of the Eucharist is a double mirror. When we look at ourselves, it is so easy to see our messy lives. And in the next breath, we are asking a broken and spilled out Jesus to change us by his grace, fill us with his goodness, and make us a mirrored reflection of the Divine.
Make us the body of Christ. May our feet bring the Good News to those who have been crushed under the weight of religion.
Make us the blood of Jesus. May our lives and love be spilled out as a balm for those who are hurting all around us.
The body and blood of Jesus is the goal, it seems.
Behold who you are.
Depressed, discouraged, and defeated. According to my diagnosis, I’m no more fit to encourage others than the man in the moon. I don’t walk around in Ann Voskamp’s constant gratefulness. I don’t have the wisdom of Corrie ten Boom or the grace of Brennan Manning. Most of the time, everything I write or speak is preaching to myself. Writing is my therapy before it’s ever my ministry.
Abused, abandoned, and addicted. I was broken one day as a preschooler and ever since, the memory of that day has haunted me. Nine years after the abuse, I became addicted to pornography. Even as a pastor. Eventually the abuse and the addiction caught up with me and in the whirlwind of recovery from a suicide attempt, I was abandoned by the church and I began to question the faith of my childhood.
A lying, lacking, legalist. I used the excuse of “keeping up appearances,” but the truth is, my life was a lie. I covered my pain because I believed I couldn’t face the deep wounds that were bubbling beneath the surface. I had a dysfunctional relationship with my own dad, and as a result, couldn’t grasp the image of a truly good Father. And since I didn’t know how to have a genuine relationship, embracing the rules of religion was the easiest way to be accepted in the church.
Become what you receive.
Each time I hold the tiny plastic cup of grape juice in front of my face, it’s not the death of Christ I imagine, but the life that has been made available to me as a result. The Truth in that cup says that I can face hard days. I can look failure in the eye and move forward. To think that One person could love me enough to die is hard to fathom. But faith calls me to embrace Christ’s sacrifice for me.
The love and grace of Jesus pummels the lies I’ve believed for so long. I am no longer defined by my hurts, or by my weaknesses. I am no longer limited by my sins, or remembered for my failures. Instead, I am embraced every time I boldly come to the altar.
In every area of weakness, and in every fleeting moment of human success, I am nothing without Christ. But He is more than enough in me.
Behold who you are, then become what you receive.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
It’s Time for the Church to Confront Mental Health (via USA Today)
Suicide: Let’s Talk about It (podcast)
Pastors and Suicide: How Do We Keep this From Happening Again?
Suicide Survivors: 7 Things to do the Day After You Leave the Psych Ward
GUEST POST: The Velveteen Rabbit, Impossible Magic, and Finding Authentic Faith
Guest Blog – Worthy and Unashamed: Facing Mental Health Stigma in the Church Head-On
Guest blog: It’s Depression, Not Demon Possession