The question on my mind over the last couple of years has really been all about what do I do with “the rest of my life”?
I have come to realise, however, that the question is the problem. It is feeding “the lie”, the deception, that almost all of humankind falls prey to: that we need to do something to matter, to fit in, to be recognised. I believe that deep down most peoples’ worst fear is that we will live ordinary lives that have no significance.
Or perhaps it is just mine…
The problem is that in no way does this fear and my recent internal struggle reflect the truth that as a believer I am Loved and accepted and that I can do nothing to add value to my life. Instead it perpetuates an evil idea where essentially I become more self-focused, feeding off the tree of knowledge as I try harder to do things that make me ‘acceptable’ in the eyes of God, my family and friends.
Brennan Manning in ‘All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir’ asks the question: “Do you believe that the God of Jesus loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity—that he loves you in the morning sun and in the evening rain—that he loves you when your intellect denies it, your emotions refuse it, your whole being rejects it. Do you believe that God loves without condition or reservation and loves you this moment as you are and not as you should be?”
Said another way it comes down to the question Jesus asks of me:
“Do YOU (Heather) believe that I love you just as you are?”
Intellectually I can answer ‘yes’ but I have realised that my daily actions, thought patterns and concerns mean the answer is a resounding ‘NO’!
I don’t believe I am lovable just as I am.
I am sure there is more I need to do in order to have value and be considered significant in the world, in my community and in my family.
I have fallen prey to the lie Satan threw out at the very beginning: That You, Abba, are not enough and that you are expecting something more from me or with-holding something from me until I live up to a standard, give of myself enough, behave or perform in a certain way.
Perhaps that is why this ‘prayer’ of Robert Farrar Capon’s resounds with me and makes me smile:
“Lord, please restore to us the comfort of merit and demerit. Show us that there is at least something we can do. Tell us that at the end of the day there will at least be one redeeming card of our very own. Lord, if it is not too much to ask, send us to bed with a few shreds of self-respect upon which we can congratulate ourselves. But whatever you do, do not preach grace. Give us something to do, anything; but spare us the indignity of this indiscriminate acceptance.”
Nonetheless, as I approach my 50th birthday I am asking that “as I received Christ, so may I now walk in Him” (My paraphrase – Colossians 2:6). I am asking for His Grace to walk one step at a time in faith – not struggling to have a worth apart from Him or a need to figure out for myself what my future holds but to trust that His all-sufficient grace will lead me forward as the appropriate time. This is the Gospel I need to preach to myself daily as I embrace this time of space and rest is a gift.
“Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery that you really are accepted”