Some things wear my little introverted self out and I just have to rest. Mostly, those things involve being with people. Don’t get me wrong. I really like being with people. But, introverts like me expend tons of energy when we’re with others.

Besides, I feel and intuit my way around this planet. Despite the time I spend in study and reflection, I don’t come at life from an intellectual distance.

Stick me in a room with a dozen or so people, give me a minute, and I’ll tell you the emotional temperature of the place. I don’t collect data and draw conclusions. I just sense it. It’s like my inner life gets hooked up by invisible cables to the inner life of the people around me.

So it probably makes sense to you when I say that faith, at least for me, is not first and foremost about thinking the right ideas about God. Faith is a sincere and intimate connection with and commitment to a person.

Faith comes down to sharing our life with a friend. In my case, that friend is the risen Christ. As the late Marcus Borg once put it, believing is actually be-loving. And Jesus was pretty clear about how to love him.

Shortly before the Last Supper, some Jews from the Diaspora—from someplace outside Israel—came to see Jesus. When Andrew and Philip came to check if he wanted to meet with some potential followers, Jesus reminded them what loving him was going to look like:

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.” (John 12:24-25)

As Richard Rohr puts it, we love Jesus by living a cruciform life. “Christians are meant to be the visible compassion of God on earth…. They agree to embrace the imperfection and even the injustices of our world, allowing these situations to change themselves from the inside out, which is the only way things are changed anyway.” (The Universal Christ, p. 147)

As is often said, hurt people hurt people. Our common strategy for dealing with our pain is to find somebody to blame for it. We try to fix our own pain by causing pain in someone else. Instead of healing our pain, blame actually multiplies and intensifies it.

Jesus invites us to join him in the only truly effective way to mend our lives. The way of love. We can acknowledge that we are all hurt people.

When we recognize that my pain is our pain, we take the crucial step away from blame to compassion. To use Henri Nouwen’s phrase, we become the wounded healer instead of the wounded victim.

We love Jesus by loving other people. Real people. Without exception. In all the messiness of their lives. And, yes, that means sharing their sorrow and suffering as our own. Elsewhere, Jesus called this loving your neighbor as yourself.

Sometimes, this will just wear us out. At the end of a long day, we may have nothing left to give. Every now and then, we will need a mid-afternoon nap, a long weekend, or a walk in the woods with our dog.

That’s okay by Jesus. He knows that love is hard work. We need a rest. And as it turns out, that’s an act of love as well. Sometimes the hardest one. The act of loving yourself.

25 Comments

  1. Dear Jake, thanks so much!…I like your an introvert, yet love people!
    May the Lord continue to use us in loving others into the kingdom. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Despite the time I spend in study and reflection, I don’t come at life from an intellectual distance.” –love this and I know it’s true because when I pay attention to what you write, good things happen in my spiritual understanding. Not always comfortable things –ha! but eventual progress. Roll on 20 April and the release of your newest book!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I was sitting here considering your comment to Jake, when your response to me came through! Quite strange when there’s such a distance between us. ‘Growing beyond’ are two words that are very special to me, from Jake’s last book 🙂

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  3. I too used to be an introvert. I’ve mentioned my weight issue. I was teased because others did not understand my situation. Now that I am doing something about it people see me in the gym and see that I’m trying. God helped me to be more comfortable with others.

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    1. “I was teased because others did not understand my situation.” A lot I could say in response so good reason to keep this brief! I’ve an entirely physical problem with swallowing food and struggle with eating enough. I know what it is to experience others not understanding (in a myriad different ways). I’m glad you’ve come to terms with difficult things, even though our situations are different. Very happy for you Kathy xx

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      1. Thank you. Praise God. He makes all things possible. We have an 8 year old niece. When she was an infant I promised to be at her wedding someday. My situation could have shortened my life. Now eat healthier and exercise in moderation because of chronic pain from a work injury. It took a few years to lose weight because it’s a slow process. I am so thankful to God for this blessing.

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  4. I have said many times that God has a sense of humor, as evidenced by Her calling my off the scale introverted self to be a social worker and to do a deacon’s work! I am exhausted by Zoom meetings – I don’t even have to be in the room with people to get that connection. Similar to you, I understand the world through my intuition and the ‘feel’ I get from people and places. All created things have a ‘feel’ to them and when I interact from that place of knowing – of loving God’s creation – I am at my truest self – I think that is what people mean when they say ‘most authentic’ – when they come from the place where God’s love for His creation interacts through them with creation. Letting God’s love come forth is hard work and I am glad that the older I get the easier it is for me to love myself and give myself that ‘sabbath’ time. I guess this is a long way round to say “I feel ya!”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It simply seems uncanny, coincidental, a Godincidence, that I read Richard Rohr’s Universal Christ and am challenged and moved by it and then shortly thereafter discover the writings of this guy Jake Owensby on FB only to discover he is an Episcopalian Bishop. This Canadian Anglican does not treat this lightly and is ever so thankful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m grateful for our connection, too. You know, I’ve always wanted to go to Canada and never had the opportunity. It’s really nice to have a connection up north!

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