The other week at church, before we took the Eucharist, our priest Danny made a small comment about how before Saint Augustine served people communion, he would look at the person he was serving and say to them, "receive who you are." And so Danny passed that along to us, hundreds of years later, an honest-to-goodness blessing as we knelt at the altar. Receive who you are, he charged us, who you already were before you even had the consciousness to consider otherwise.
That sounds exactly like grace to me.
It is contrary to the evidence we see around in our daily lives, and sometimes in the church. I'm guilty of a lot of empty striving coming at the expense of rest, Sabbath, true presence before him. I see us throwing ourselves into more and more activity, resisting any chance to be still enough to hear him speak. I see myself adding to my own personal internal resume in the hopes that it will make me feel better about myself as I drift off to sleep.
Hear me: it is a good thing to get involved on the behalf of justice and mercy. If god so stirs your heart to throw yourself into serving his people in a particular way, I will not be the one to stop you. I could not stand to watch this world feel the lack of passionate, strong women hungry for God's kingdom to come on this earth. By all means, sister, be the strand God made you to be in the fabric of humanity. We cannot do it without you.
But should these efforts ever stem solely from the desire to prove, to strive for something that has already been given to us, I hope we have the courage to halt before it gets out of hand. I hope we can look any lie straight in the face and believe with confidence that who we are to God is not up for negotiation.
Receive who you are because that was enough to begin with and anyone who told you otherwise is operating under the rules of a game that does not actually exist. Receive who you are because there is simply no such thing as earning belovedness. Receive who you are because the scale broke a long time ago under the weight of His compassion and it doesn't look like He's in any hurry to try and fix it.