"spiritually bankrupt condition".
- Motion of Mercy, by Francesca Batistelli.
When we make a mistake, and that mistake has so many knock on effects, its hard to see how God's love helps us, where do we go from there?
Yeah sure God, I know you still love me, but what if everyone else can never put up with me again? What do I do then?
The thing is I start thinking completely irrationally...although I always believe it to be rational at the time. The amazing thing about God's love is that it's not just in me, others are filled with His love too, to the point that they have the grace and the forgiveness to be able to see the mess that is me at its rawest, and love it anyway.
I don't have a clue where I would be this moment if others were not willing to say, 'Yeah you did wrong, and that's really bad, and you need to learn from that, but I'm still standing next to you, I'm not against you.' And THAT sort of love is a God-sort of love: when love goes beyond all expectations and it starts reaching heavenly realms.
Right so other people might be okay with letting go, with forgiving me, with refusing to abandon me, but how do I live with myself? If this is what I do to my friends, what am I going to do to my enemies? What if I don't want to be in this skin?
After seeking forgiveness from God, and then others, we need to also seek to forgive ourselves.
Its all well and good putting ourselves on the line, putting ourselves forward, volunteering, trying to love, trying to be the friend, to be a Kingdom-builder, but when what we say, and the things we do start costing other people their jobs, and opportunities, and livelihoods, how do we trust ourselves to go out each day and do these things? How do we trust ourselves to get up out of bed each day, get dressed, and walk out the front door to live?
And if I can't trust me, God, how can I even begin to ask other people to trust me? How can I put myself forward? How can I say 'I'm a Christian' when I could put your image in danger?
God is bigger that even our worst mistakes, even the worst things we do. And its really scary when we can lose people we love, because we say or do the wrong thing, but let's not fall away from God because of the things we do wrong. That's what the devil wants, are we going to give him the time of day?
No. We are not.
Maybe your image isn't your greatest concern, maybe you're bigger than what others may think of you. Maybe your love really does conquer all. When am I going to stop doubting?
God says that He loves me anyway, and here's the thing: when I start putting myself down, when I tell myself that I am not worthy, I'm not worth loving, that I am not a good person to have on your team, I am putting God's creation down.
I am tearing to pieces, and destroying something that God has worked long and hard over. How is that Kingdom-building?
Okay, so I am beginning to understand this thing. When others tell me that I am still not perfect, that I still muck up, when I know that in my head, it is actually true. I can see that now, but that is why you chose to die for me. And getting hung up on my sin is not helping anyone, especially not myself, it is not Kingdom-building, it is not your will, it is not what I am called to do. So seeking forgiveness, and then accepting forgiveness, letting myself be cleansed and refreshed... that is how to move forward.
For me, the hardest thing about forgiveness is accepting it. Is saying, 'Okay I did all that rubbish, and I am sorry, and because I'm sorry I am forgiven and I can move on'. My human brain is telling me that that isn't a fair transaction. Maybe it isn't, but God says I am worth it, and He tells me to trust Him, so maybe I should start listening.
We can't just say sorry, we need to be sorry right to our core. Sometimes that is really easy: when we hurt someone we love, a friend, a brother, a sister, every ounce of us IS sorry, because not one part of us wants to hurt someone we love. But what about when we feel justified in wrongdoing, when we feel like they deserve it?
I believe we need to turn to God and ask Him to heal us, to learn to love that person so that we can forgive them, sometimes that is a quick process, sometimes it takes years, but with God's help it WILL come.
God, You see my heart. You know what is tearing me apart, You know when I am truly sorry, You know the best way to make me whole again. You love me anyway, and that is remarkable. I want to learn to love like You, I want to be able to accept forgiveness, and I want to be able to forgive like You. Please churn me up inside, please make me feel sick when I'm doing it wrong, make me want to turn in the other direction. Make me passionate for what is right, and good, and pure, and holy, and of You. Let me recognise my mistakes, and want to reconcile with people who I have turned against me. But most of all never let me stop wanting to reconcile with You, never let me forget that You will always love me anyway and despite, and that You are all I need.
This week has been a struggle, but it has also taught me a lot, it has given me the shake up I needed to face the pile of mess I have been allowing to build up right around me. It is time I stopped running away and hiding: I need to face up to my life. To the decisions I have made, and the consequences of them, to where I have been placed.
After a considerable amount of tears and hurt, and sitting and thinking, I am still clinging to the hope that is in God, the hope of grace.
Grace saved by grace. A miracle: completely.
Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 4:3-4