Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
– from the hymn, “Just As I Am,” lyrics by Charlotte Elliott
“Just as I am” is an everyday thing. It is not just a salvation invitation song; it’s the way we live. It’s about coming to life with an honest estimation about who you are, what you have, and what you need. It’s about facing life with our doubts, our conflicts and our fears and trusting in the Lord to get us through. The other option is to live in the past. If we don’t live “Just as I am,” we will most likely be caught in the “Just as I was.”
You’ve heard of the woulda, coulda, shouldas. These are the traps “Just as I was” people fall into, and I am very familiar with all of these. In fact, I’ve come up with another version of the Care Bears to explain this. It’s the I Don’t Care Bears. Meet Woulda, Coulda, and Shoulda Bear. I’ve turned them into teddy bears because that’s really what happens when we cling to these excuses. We isolate ourselves by running off like children into a corner hugging our Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda Bears so we don’t have to face into anything.
First, meet Woulda Bear. I would have done this, or I would have done that. If only I had enough money, or that guy wasn’t in my way, or so-and-so had called me in time. Woulda Bears are all about blaming and excusing. It’s always someone else’s fault. This one is as old as Adam when he blamed “the woman you gave me.” Notice he’s blaming God. That’s ultimately what we do when we blame — we blame God — because the buck always stops there. Ask me anything you want to know about this one, because I’ve worn my Woulda Bear thin over the last forty years. It’s lost all of its buttons and some of its stuffing. If I blame the woman God gave me, then I don’t have to be responsible for change. I’m going to go off in a corner and hug my Woulda Bear some more.
Then there is the Coulda Bear. I could have done the right thing. I could have saved some money for times like this. I could have been a better father. I’ve been hugging my Coulda Bear quite a bit lately related to how I could have made Chandler’s life better. The Coulda Bear is all about regret. It is about constantly rehashing what could have happened if I’d known better, or if I’d done it differently. As long as you hug your Coulda Bear, you will never get to where you are, only where you were.
And finally, there’s the ever-popular Shoulda Bear. This is where we crawl off and wallow in guilt with our Shoulda Bear. I should have called. I should have brought flowers. I should have been thinking of someone other than myself. As with all of these excuses, you can stay here forever and never have to face into the present. It’s a convenient form of isolation. Hug my Shoulda Bear and render myself completely useless.
“Just as I am” means facing into my blame, shame, guilt and regret. This is one time it’s okay to be mean to a teddy bear. Get rid of those I Don’t Care Bears. Beat them up if you have to, or just trash them, and come just as you are to the Lord, out into the open, in front of those you have left in your isolation, and be vulnerable to them and the Holy Spirit. What will happen? I really can’t tell you because I haven’t been there enough. That’s for you and me to find out.
Stop that now! I know you’re wanting to dig through the trash for that Woulda Bear. Don’t even think about it!