If I'm honest, this past year, I've really struggled in my faith.
I've felt dry. I've been mad. And I've been believing a lot of lies about the character of God. I was watching him provide and give clarity to situations I've been praying about for years and years, but I couldn't quite make the connection. It was almost as if I was watching my life happen, but it wasn't really my life and it wasn't really orchestrated by God. Basically, I had lost "all the feels" for God.
There was a time in my life when I would feel tender towards Jesus. That being in His Word, learning about Him, communing with people who also loved Him felt intimate, sacred and lovely. I could feel the sweetness of who He was, soaked up His mercy and saw grace displayed over and over in my life and the lives of others. I felt His love.
But somewhere along the way, I lost it. It's taken me a long time to realize it, but over the past couple of weeks it dawned on me:
I was so busy doing Christian, that I forgot to love God.
I didn't feel free.
I didn't want to seek Him.
I would've rather just stopped reading the Bible because it all. felt. so. burdensome.
And I was tired of feeling like I was never going to get it right.
I had gotten so consumed with the idea of being a good Christian that my faith had become a chore rather than a lifeline. To give more clarity, the woman who is leading my bible study put words to the mess in my brain: I was viewing God as a principal who is out to get me.
What?! That's insane. How did I fall so far from receiving the tenderness of Jesus to anticipating judgment, chastisement and a slap on the wrist?
Well for one, I'm an overachiever, sometimes to a fault. You give me something to work towards, I'm going to do everything in my power to get there. So when people say "We should become more like Jesus", my default is to try and BE Jesus. To get that checklist in order, making sure I'm doing everything I need to do to be a good Christian. Quiet times in the morning? Check. Avoiding "BIG" sins? Check. Having a community that holds me accountable? Check. The problem is, in all of this, I started to try and earn salvation. Like if I didn't do all these things, I wasn't actually a good Christian and maybe my salvation was in question. (Yes, I actually started to believe that.) But last time I checked, you can't earn it. It's freely given. Gosh, don't we all need to be reminded of that?
Here are some of things I'm preaching to myself that maybe you need to hear too:
Maybe you need to hear today you can stop striving and straining.
Maybe you need to hear today that your faith shouldn't be a burden.
Maybe you need to check in with yourself and see if you're being too legalistic.
Maybe you need to actually sit down and really delve into God's character.
Maybe you need to see if you're actually creating expectations for yourself and others that are unrealistic, not actually in Scripture and pressured by outside influences.
Maybe you need to hear that God is the God of second chances - and 17th chances and 5,465th chances. You're going to screw up - welcome to being human.
And maybe, just maybe, you just need reminded that you don't have to earn salvation. That you can't earn it. And that God is not a principal out to get you, but rather pursuing you even when you're ready to walk away.