Yeesh-- what a season of life this time is shaping out to be. I don’t think there will be a true end to this season but rather a permanent course change has occurred. My guess is you can sympathize with how different your life looks today than you expected in January.
I didn’t expect to watch my heart be confronted and subsequently convicted in realizing that being kind to everyone is not enough. It never was and will never be. It was not until an incredibly dear friend, who is also Black, wept on FaceTime did I say, Oh no, not in my house. I hate that it took a personal experience and my friend's grief to bring out a response on my end.
I didn’t expect to be challenged in my definition of grace and how I receive it. I didn’t expect to see that I am borderline unable to receive His daily gift of forgiveness and grace and mercy. This is, at times, heartbreaking. I sometimes watch my heart from afar reject gifts of grace because of a pride that says, I have to make this right on my own.
If you’re sitting close to me these days, you have watched me spiral almost weekly through a memory in which I fell short. I contemplate reaching out to the person I hurt/offended and find myself quite consumed in anxiety that can come with accountability. It’s hard to say sorry sometimes, especially for behavior that makes me feel sick to my stomach these days. I am quite the self-critic.
It wasn’t until recently did I see that I am struggling to accept His grace. I struggle to see the past and say, All things made new. I become legalistic and prideful enough to think that anything I do to rectify a situation would bring about the healing necessary to fully redeem it.
I’m seeing that I am constantly in this battle of feeling like I need to be worthy of the healing. I need to fix my wrongs so that I can feel free from them or so that my slate actually feels clean. I need to forgive myself.*
Over the last couple of months, I have spent specific time getting to know the heart of Christ-- a worthy pursuit, I tell ya. And at first glance, I could say my latest struggle is a sign that I need to get to know Christ. I can hear the choir telling me to study how He navigates conversations, who He sought out to heal, who He restores dignity to. I’ll be charged with the task simply accept it. Just trust Him at His word.
But what if I’m closer to Him than I’ve ever been?
What if that’s why I’m struggling with accepting the inevitable grace that is present in His character?
And maybe I’ve never been more aware of my need for it? Maybe I've never let myself be aware?
I’ve spent weeks beating myself up over this need to right my wrongs. I've disregarded the very heart of Christ. I disregarded His natural disposition and the very reasons He came to the earth. I wonder if you can relate? Do you have this silent belief that you must make things right before God?
We are a works-based society, so it makes sense. It makes sense to know we are in a constant battle of believing not only “getting what you work for” but also “getting what you deserve.” (I’m not even sure I can unpack all the layers that come in the latter of the two.) We exist in this environment that declares people “unworthy” or “lucky” if they get an opportunity we feel they don’t deserve. I’ve done it. I'll probably still do it if we're honest.
I’m not sure what Heaven is like and I’m not sure what my brain will know when I get there. I do know everyone will be celebrated in a way that glorifies God and what He accomplished through our yielded lives. I know that’s a lot and something I can’t comfortably say most days. Today, it feels like a gift that it’s His purposes flowing through my life.
It is His story that He’s telling through my story. And is my story really my own? I'm not sold. It’s His glory that [hopefully] shines when I share of the work He’s done on my heart and priorities.
So, maybe you can relate to feeling the pressure of doing everything right. Maybe it’s not even for God and maybe it's for the validation from man (been there and sometimes go back). Maybe you’re making super conscious efforts to do it right and starting to wonder about your motives? Being a good person is wonderful, and as I am evaluating my motives, I’m starting to Yikes, Hannah... myself.
What’s the good news here? The good news is that there’s space and patience on His end to talk us through our revelations. God the Father pulls out two coffee cups, pours yours first, and says, I can work with this.
* I am currently facilitating a book study on Charles Martin's What If It's True? which is an incredible book and if you read alongside some friends, gives you many opportunities for really good conversation. One chapter talks about forgiveness and I was coasting until he gave a sample list of people we might need forgive and when I read "yourself," I felt an immediate lump in my throat. I've linked the book here if you're interested.