When you have a job interview, you have to sell yourself. You need to convince the person hiring that you are the best candidate to do the job. You need the qualifications and experience that they’re looking for. When you’re dating, you need to show your partner that you’re the right one for them. You have to make certain sacrifices you don’t really want to make, but are choosing to because they’re worth it and you want to be worth it. Even for something as simple as a potluck, you are required to bring something to the table. We live in a society where we cannot come empty handed. As my dad repeatedly told me growing up, “there is no free lunch.” You can’t expect an outcome without working for it; there is always a need to be more, to be better, to exceed expectations. This kind of mindset and lifestyle inevitably seeps into so many aspects of my life, and, in most cases, it’s helped me stay motivated and driven, but I’ve found it most crippling in my spiritual walk.
I am a Christian. I have been since I was in 8th grade. I know who I believe in and that will never change, but I have this tendency to chase after a level of perfection, something that has made me falter in my walk, and a level that is absolutely unattainable. I have a potty mouth, I have moments where I’m very selfish, I have an insane amount of pride, I act more confident than I actually am, I drink more hard liquor than my little self should, I’m a control freak, I’m complacent, sometimes I am vulgar and too harsh with my words, and the list goes on. These flaws that many people often say are “not Christian” and hypocritical, I have a lot of them. These are things about myself I often try to hide. I cover up the ugly and only present the best aspects of myself. That’s what we all do because that’s what society has made acceptable. I’ve become so accustomed to this that it’s how I act when it comes to my faith and my relationship with God. I try to put up a front and act like I have it all together. I try to run away when I feel ashamed of my behavior. I catch myself thinking I’ll come back to You when I’m better, when I am more righteous, when I’m more favorable in Your eyes. But that’s where I’m really doing myself a disservice.
The sinfulness of my nature and the negative qualities in myself I continue to nurture are not excusable, but they are not unforgivable. When my life is in shambles or when I know I shouldn’t do something, but do it anyway, I want to stay right where I am, turn away from God and let the momentary pleasures of the world fulfill me. But that’s not what being a follower of Christ is about. I’m not only supposed to come to God when things are good or when I feel like I’m in a good place in my life. This isn’t a job interview, this isn’t a relationship with just anyone, I don’t need to prove anything. Fact of the matter is, I’ll never be qualified enough, or “good enough” to receive the kind of love and forgiveness God gives freely.
When we are wronged by someone, we don’t automatically think to embrace that person with love. We’re angered and often times vengeful. When we do something terrible, we’re ashamed and afraid because we don’t want to be ridiculed or face the consequences. But God’s grace covers all of that. He still loves us when we wrong Him. He forgives us when we shouldn’t be forgiven. This is the scandal of His grace, something that I’ll never fully be able to understand. Being a Christian is not always easy. There are times where I am disciplined, there are many times I need to be obedient when I don’t want to be, and there are many times I fail. But I find comfort and gratitude in that even when I fail, even when I screw up, it’s not the end of His love and grace. His love is unconditional, it is eternal, it is what allows me to wake up every morning and live the life I lead, and I don’t want to live apart from it.
God says come to me exactly as you are. Even if you feel tainted by poor judgment, addiction, adultery, prostitution, jealousy, greed, whatever it is, there is nothing that He cannot forgive. There is nothing I have that He doesn’t have. There is nothing that I can do that He cannot do better. I don’t need to hide and I don’t need to feel ashamed when it comes to God because doing that is putting a limit on what He can to do in my life. I can’t be perfect and I can’t be free of sin, but I can go on this journey with Him. I can ask for forgiveness, I can give gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice He made so I could have life, and I can trust and believe that whatever circumstance I am in, big or small, He is greater and He remains faithful. Every scar is a story, every mistake is a learning experience, every hurt will result in an even greater joy. When you feel broken, when you feel empty handed, when you feel like you have nothing to offer, bring your nothing because He can and will use you for something incredible.