Well, it’s the season of my number-changing day, as my little granddaughter calls it.
This time of life has potential to be depressing for some of us. The question that crops up in this decade is, “What have I done with my life?”
This blog is about change, and I often write about leaving the past behind and pressing on to become who we are meant to be. In spite of many deeply regrettable choices I have made in the past, I am learning to say, “It’s grace that has brought me safe thus far.”
Sometimes it’s easier to forgive others than it is to forgive ourselves, but moving forward also means letting go of the debt accrued against ourselves by ourselves. In the same way that forgiving others means letting go of the expectation that they will somehow, someday, make up for things they stole or failed to provide, forgiving ourselves means letting go of the expectation that our past selves can ever make up for offenses against our future selves. I’m not talking about not taking responsibility; I’m talking about recognizing the futility of the task of trying recoup lost years by striving, and instead emptying our hands of false coping skills, so that God can provide the love and acceptance we still so desperately need.
I thought about Paul, the writer of so many letters to young, struggling believers. I wonder how he lived with the fact that he hated followers of Jesus so much that he had them dragged out of their homes, imprisoned, and even, in the case of Stephen, executed. He called himself “the chief of sinners” for what he had done. And yet, with the weight of that knowledge, he was also able to grasp the reality of God’s forgiveness. He knew he was loved, not just for the person he was going to become, but for the person he was at that very moment -for the person who had not yet “attained.” He could say, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”
I asked the Lord for a word from Him that would show me where I am and give me a sense of direction. I feel like I’m so far behind where I should be. I lost so many years to sympathy-addiction and depression that I have felt a kind of desperate need to make a difference in the world while I still have a bit of time left. I want to get busy and do something important for God.
The word I feel he is giving me for this year is “simplify.” The words of this song describe my feelings:
What can I do for You?
What can I bring to You?
What kind of song would you like me to sing?
‘Cause I’ll dance a dance for You
Pour out my love to You
What can I do for You beautiful king?
‘Cause I… can’t thank You enough.
All of the words that I find… and I can’t thank You enough.
No matter how I try… I can’t thank You enough.
Then I hear You sing to me: “You… don’t have to do a thing
Just simply be with me and let those things go
‘Cause they can wait another minute
Wait… this moment is too sweet
Would you please stay here with Me
And love on Me a little longer
I’d love to be with you a little longer
‘Cause I’m in love with you
(from “A Little Longer” by Jenn Johnson)
I’ve spent a lot of years wading through good and bad doctrine and theology, healthy and unhealthy forms of church structure and methodology, and proper and improper ways to express worship. If I were to classify my relationship with churchianity on Facebook it would be “complicated.” Today, if you were to ask me for my personal statement of faith, it might simply be:
Jesus Christ, Son of God, crucified, buried, raised from the dead and coming again. And this Jesus, who showed us who God really is, loves me. Holy Spirit tells me so. In the cross of Christ, offensive to the self-made, and foolish to the logical, is all my expectation.
By the grace of God, I am what I am. Present tense.
If that’s good enough for the Creator of the Universe, it’s good enough for me.