I've heard many Christian speakers or pastors talk about how Jesus loves us despite our past. The point is always that no matter what we've done, no matter what screwed up things haunt our short history, God is always ready with open arms whenever we are ready for Him- that Jesus' sacrifice is great enough to cover over even the lowest of our lows. This is a true and necessary message and I believe it resonates with multitudes of broken and flawed people- people who have felt for some time that their past somehow made them ineligible for eternal love or hope.
But somehow I tend to equate my "past" with mistakes that I've made and make no more- or at least areas of my life where I've been worse and am quickly improving. My past is exactly that in my mind- something I struggled with, something I tried and failed, something stupid and selfish I did that is now done. over. no longer relevant since God forgives the past. What is much harder for me to accept is that God loves me in my CURRENT state. Because there is always something I AM struggling with, but there is this sort of assumption that there are certain things Christians should NOT struggle with; that God loves those who are "lost" no matter what, but boy once you commit to God He has no patience or room for broken, stubborn, selfish people. Oh, like me for instance.
You know- there are times I follow God and I feel this passion- this nearness to Him that is unlike anything else. But it's just not always like that. Lately I've had one bumpy patch after another- sometimes feeling selfishly driven to just live for me- to only care about enjoyment here and now. And today, days in a row- so many strings of days that I guess you could call it a habit- I struggle not to overreact when my expectations of people fall short- I struggle to want what is best for many when all I can see is my hurt, insecurity, or pride. And I desperately want godly relationships- godly community- a godly life- but in frustration, fear, and inflexibility I feel that lately I have refused to even trust God with the outcome of my situations- with my friendships, children, husband, life. It's like a little part of me wants things to work out on my terms, and I don't really want to see what God's alternative is.
I suppose I know that God is still standing there waiting for me- and I'm trying to find that relationship with Him that I love so much. But how do I go back to God and expect mercy when I'm still in process? How do I expect Him to forgive me when I know deep down there is still more of me that I'm holding onto- that there is still more of me that is fighting for my will?
Every few months I go to my endocrinologist for diabetes check-ups, and she takes blood for my A1C test. This actually shows my average blood sugar levels for the last three months as a percentage that correlates to my daily finger checks. A normal person's A1C should be 5% or less- an average reading of 76-120. Last time my result was closer to 7%- between 123-185 daily. I'm technically still doing OK for a diabetic, but this was the highest number I'd ever had, and I was frustrated with myself. I felt that I had been a bad patient because I knew I was snacking too much at night and not exercising enough. I knew I couldn't look my doctor in the eye and expect her to give me sympathy because I was daily doing things that weren't good for me. I walked away from the office vowing to do better- to change. But if I went to my doctor today, I could tell her that I HAVE been trying to eat better- that I've been exercising more- so then even if my test result was worse than I expected, I would know that it was from past mistakes, and that I'm slowly improving. I would not feel ashamed to talk to my doctor- I wouldn't have to make excuses and I wouldn't have to feel nervous.
When I know that I'm not really giving God my all- I don't feel like I can face him till I've straightened up. I tell myself if I could just get it together a little bit- or if I could just take care of this one thing on my own then God could have the rest. The worst part about ongoing, intentional selfishness of any kind is that it wears down my relationship with God. It makes talking to Jesus feel like a strain- a chore- less than authentic. I pray short random prayers for help- for comfort- for others- but when I try to just be with God and listen for His voice, I get irritated and distracted, or I feel fake- like I'm telling God I'm sorry for something that even I know I'm not ready to give up- so why would God listen? But I'm finding that the prayer does matter- because if nothing else it reveals my inconsistencies and forces me to choose. to change. God graciously uses even my half-hearted prayers to remind me what He wants for me.
Because the Bible is full of broken people that wanted to follow God but screwed up. And God used them and changed them in spite of that. Maybe crossing that line from holding too tight to letting go can only happen if I trust that God really loves me now. Broken and frail and small. Because we all are. And that, miraculously, is exactly the kind of person God wants to be with.