Did you know, every time I post anything to this blog, I have a few moments of panic and negative thoughts about what I’m writing?
Here is my internal monologue: “You are such a fake. Nothing you say can be taken with any credibility because of who you are and how flawed you are. You’re pretending to be an authority on matters of the soul, but what do you know? You’re so full of sh*t. People would be smarter to unfollow you and listen to someone who knows something about being a decent human being.” I’m really hard on myself. I even have nicknames for myself that I won’t share here but they’d probably make you laugh because of how awful they are.
I’m really nervous today because I want to talk about something that talks a lot about faith. But the take-away is for anyone to hear whether you’re faith-filled, Christian or not. And I’m nervous because of the Christian followers I have reading who might not feel I’m doing this thing justice. But I am inspired to write it, so here it is. And to be honest, if it doesn’t speak to you, I’m ok with the idea that maybe it isn’t meant for you this week; I still love you!
So, today Scott and I went to church and the sermon was about St. Paul who used to be one of the Pharisees, named Saul at that time, who persecuted, imprisoned, and was responsible for deaths of Jesus’ early followers. He was doing it because he believed in Jewish law. He didn’t understand who Jesus was yet, or what he stood for. He had a dramatic conversion one day when Jesus came to him (from heaven) on the road to Damascus and asked Saul why he was persecuting him. Saul quickly came to believe in Jesus after that encounter and changed his whole life around (and his name to Paul) to proclaim the good news of Jesus.
I never knew how much I loved Paul until the last few weeks. According to our pastor today, Paul cried a lot (Acts 20:17-38). Like every time he went into a city to share the story of Jesus, he was so overwhelmed with emotion and love for God that he wept. Paul cried about everything because he was so humbled by God’s grace, that God would choose someone as lowly and broken as him to proclaim the good news. God’s love filled him to the brim. Crying at that time (and even now) was considered weakness. But Paul couldn’t help it. That’s kind of what grace does…As our pastor pointed out, grace shows you the worst things about yourself. It humbles you and you realize just how broken and screwed up you are. But if we understand the meaning of grace in our lives, we see that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is what God did for us so that all of our sins would be forgiven. What other faith is there on earth where God manifested in human form and died just to show us how much he loves us? His last words were, “Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.”
The only thing God asks of us in that moment, and every moment since, is for us to accept the sacrifice of his son and by extension, his forgiveness and grace of our sin. That’s all he wants us to do to make up for our faults! He wants that sacrifice to count for something. But we still find ourselves sinning over and over. We think somehow our way is going to work out better.
We’re kind of slow about it, aren’t we? I used to think I was a smart person. Now I understand how much I still am learning. Sometimes, I just don’t have it. I have to throw my hands up and say, “I don’t got this. I need help. Please come into my heart and show me what to do next.”
Here’s the best analogy I can think of at the moment. I like to crochet. I have made a few really big afghans for the boys. I’m about to start Grace’s soon. Sometimes the spool of yarn gets a huge knot in it and I’m stuck. I try to undo the knot and I actually make it worse. Then Scott comes into the room and hears me swearing and somehow he always gets the knot out because he’s magic like that. God’s grace is like Scott’s magic yarn untangling abilities. We have to ask for help when we hit a knot. We have to allow grace into our lives to help us keep moving on.
I do feel I can write this blog with authority because I have been there. And I don’t only mean snags while crocheting. I mean hard, horrible, life situations that I actually brought on myself many times. And I have to stop trying to control and start trusting, kind of like Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel” song.
I have also heard God’s voice in my heart asking me to help others who are struggling with things by using my failures to lead the way. I don’t encourage you to become better because I think I am better than you. The only way I could ever be genuine in my message to anyone reading this is by humbling myself and telling you how broken I am. I am truly screwed up. The only thing that makes me worthy of sharing this message with you is grace.
I feel inspired when I’m in the car or at the grocery store all the time. This voice in my heart is constantly telling me to take the things that happen to me and write them down to help others see that it’s not our flaws that define us. It’s the way we love, the way we forgive each other and ourselves. It’s the way we pick up ourselves off the floor and try over and over to be better than we were yesterday.
No one gets out of life alive. And no one gets out of it without messing up. But we have to keep going until it’s time for us to leave this world. There have been days I hoped I wouldn’t see the sun rise. I thought those knots in my life were so bad that I didn’t want to keep going. But time keeps going, dragging us along with it. So I think we have an obligation to make it count for something.
I know I got a little preachy this week, especially for any non-Christian followers. And if you’re still reading, I thank you for hanging in there.
This week’s Summer Beautification Assignment is to take a hard look at your life. Focus on something that is really troubling you and call a close friend or family member, someone you really trust and tell them, “I am struggling/hurting/ confused/angry/ sad/__(insert emotion here)__ and I need you to listen to me. I need to talk to you, and I need you to just be here with me for a minute.”
It’s an assignment of humility. It’s humbling ourselves to someone we love and allowing grace into your heart to begin healing. I promise you, if you are opening yourself up, healing will start to come to you. We don’t always have it on our own. And it’s okay to admit that. You are not weak. You are not wrong for asking for help. You’re human. You’re not perfect. But you don’t have to be stuck in a knot either.