“I saw that you were perfect, and so I loved you. Then I saw that you were not perfect and I loved you even more”. ~ Angelita Lim
Someone close to me recently said that they don’t believe in the Christian God. Almost every Christian they knew was struggling with something, had ‘hang-ups’ and gave the impression of being unhappy and miserable a lot of the time.
Grief, shame and guilt enveloped me when I heard these words, because I am one of those Christian’s in that person’s life.
So many Christians, myself included, suffer from addictions: alcohol, working, shopping, the internet,drugs, gambling, food, cutting, pornography…
So many Christians, myself included, suffer from deep character defects: intense worrying, anger, impatience, thoughtlessness, selfishness, pride, judge-mentalism, lack of self-control…
So many Christians, myself included, suffer from hurts, abuse, neglect, being unwanted, unloved, uncared for from their childhood, teenage years, mid-twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties.
And yet, there are so many Christians who reflect God’s amazing love, joy, kindness and grace to a hurting world. I know quite a few of those Christians. I am growing, albeit extremely slowly – in stops and starts – to be one. I am learning about grace.
Some Christians are extremely religious, following a set of ‘rules and regulations’, judging all those who don’t fit their religious criteria, going to church every Sunday because it is their duty.
Other Christians, like me, have a relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We get angry with Him,feel hurt, abandoned and disappointed by Him: we are safe in the knowledge that we can be honest with Him in all things because He loves us and wants a relationship with us.
We love going to church because it is there that we have found a family, where we can worship God and learn more about Him.
Some Christians, like me, have developed wrong thinking patterns, we have cultivated wrong behavioural patterns because of fear, out of hurt, out of ignorance, out of deep wounds that have been inflicted on our lives.
Some Christians, like me, have a part that is ‘dead’ – the part that should embrace life.
We have built walls around ourselves for fear of pain and hurt and those walls have become our prisons.
We are trapped and it has taken years of chipping away at those walls to reach where we are now.
JM Green said: “One by one she slew her fears, and then planted a flower garden over their graves”
We are slowly slewing our fears, our regrets, our guilts, our shame and are learning to plant flowers over their graves.
Some of us are managing to do so quickly and steadily and some of us are doing so slowly and haltingly, but we are doing it.
A friend of mine recently answered a question that I had asked her and her reply captured the very essence of what I feel but have not been able to find words for:
“God’s incarnation is wide, high, deep. God’s resurrection through our Lord Jesus Christ is for all. There are some in other faiths living out Christ’s incarnational way. There are some Christians judging others, but doing little for the kingdom. Wherever Christ’s ways are lived out amongst the people, there goes our God. Christ’s care can reach into every heart.
All I know is that Christ’s grace is not in any other religion, so I remain strongly Christian. Life is not only about law. It is balanced with grace. I love living in Christ’s grace. Seeing many everyday Christians practicing grace. I love it.” ~ Pat Baxter
“Grace means undeserved kindness. It is the gift of God to man the moment he sees he is unworthy of God’s favor.” – Dwight L. Moody