St. Patrick’s Breastplate – a powerful prayer – begins in this way:
I arise today
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.
I arise today through a mighty strength…Oh, wouldn’t that be nice?
I want that to be true of me but what is true of me, on most mornings, is I arise today through a fog of despair. I have to claw my way out of cloying depths back into the dawning light of truth and breath.
This morning, I arise today through a veil of guilt and accusation.
Different mornings provide alternative options of shame. Frequent thoughts that take my heart hostage are:
You are a terrible friend.
You are a failure as a mother.
You are not invested in people’s lives.
You do not love well.
You are alone.
You are on the outside.
You are a selfish person.
Today’s litany is a shorter version. The accuser is battering my heart with “Terrible friend. Terrible friend. Terrible friend. Not even a friend.”
The crushing weight of the burden of shame is reinforced by memories (and cruel, twisted, but seemingly real interpretations) of my not being a good friend parading across my mind.
Why get out of bed?
The prayer continues.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
Wow. Well, okay then. I don’t arise today through my strength to figure it out or to pull it off or to change or to become an amazing woman who loves everyone at all times perfectly. I certainly don’t arise today by arguing with myself and the oppressor of my soul out of accusation.
I arise today by turning my gaze onto Jesus and what He has accomplished for me – because I needed Him to accomplish it.
I don’t arise today by my strength but by His.
I simply don’t have the capacity to get out of bed this morning buried under the landslide of accusation and shame that has a list of proof ready to convict me and send me into a prison of self-loathing.
Still feeling the weight of failure, I turn my gaze onto my Jesus and His finished work on my behalf.
I need a Savior. I have one.
I begin to ask Jesus for the truth and tell it to myself. I am not a perfect friend but I am a good one. I fail as a mother but I am not a failure. But best yet – I take my gaze off of me and my performance and turn it onto the King and His character: His faithfulness. His goodness. His mercy. His strength. His might.
I arise today,
through God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and near.
And I hide myself in Him. And in Him I find my strength to rise. For He does not accuse me. He blesses me. He invites me further up and further in to be changed into His likeness and to not gaze at myself – but to gaze at Him. Perfection. Might. My Victor. My Savior.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
So good morning. Honestly. Because of Jesus, it is a GOOD morning!
I am arising.