and ... breathe

Monday, 29 April 2013

I've realised recently how much I strive.

When I first became a Christian, I heard a lot of messages along the lines of 'don't strive. Don't try to be good for the sake of looking good. Don't be religious for the sake of being religious.' and I remember, in those new-found-joy days, thinking 'I'll never be like that. I'll always see how much God loves me. I'll always remember Jesus' sacrifice for me. I'll always know that I'm forgiven. I'll never think I can buy God's love with deeds. Maybe this message is for some other person. Not for me.'


How long has this guilt been building up in me? How long has this sense of shame been pervading me? How long have I been striving, desperately clawing, to get back on track?

Because the old me - the newly-in-love-with-God me - never forgot how much He loves me. Never felt that God's love depended on how hard I work or how much I do. And I never, on the flip side, felt that God disapproved of me because I wasn't doing enough, or because I had done wrong.

I was secure. Secure in God's adoring love for me. It made me stand up straighter. Walk a bit taller. That feeling, every day, of being a girl adored by her Father made me feel inspired to be better. To do better. And so all of those things that I associate with being a 'good' Christian - acts of charity, kindness, Bible study, discipline, prayer - they flowed naturally. They were an outpouring, an expression of love and joy, of thankfulness. Sure, some days I really, really didn't want to open my Bible and read. Sure, some days I didn't want to pray. I had better days than others. But overall, I never doubted God's love for me. If I slipped or did something wrong, I dusted myself off and prayed about it and I tried to move on. I knew that God was changing me and it would take time. I knew that He loved me.

He loves me.

How can that knowledge fade away? How have I let go of that anchor that kept me straight and steady?

I've listened to a lot of teaching about God's love. I've listened to a lot of teaching about God's correction, about His righteousness, His justice. But I don't believe you can have one without the other. To allow the first part - the part where I realise that God loves me, like a daughter - to fade but let the second one stand doesn't add up.

And so I enter this pattern. I fall down. I do things wrong. I feel terrible. I run away. I keep running. Then I go back. I apologise. I make promises. I sit down and read my Bible every day for a week and I pray and sing songs all day long. Then I slip. I fall. I run away ...

There's something missing in my pattern. Some gap that needs to be filled. 

I think that something is acceptance.

I need to just accept that God loves me. I need to soak in it. To bathe in His love. To just sit there and - remember. Breathe it in. Accept it. Let go.

Let go of the lists of things to do in my head. Let go of the pressure that I'm not doing enough, that I am not enough.

Because it's not really about me or whether I deserve it. It's about Him. His unfailing love. His amazing grace.

That is what I want to steep in. To mull over. To ponder. To accept.

I can tell other people about it. I will happily point people to my loving God. Read them scriptures, wax lyrical about how much He loves us. But underneath it all, whether knowingly or not, my heart has murmured Yes, but that's not for me. I'm not allowed it. I'm not worthy of it. 

He loves me! He died for me. I don't deserve Him. But I've got Him.

It's that simple.

Why has it seemed so hard? How have I got myself so tangled in complicated moral issues and theology whilst forgetting - neglecting - the point of it all?

He loves me.

Oh Lord, don't let me forget.

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