I could not grasp grace. At all.
The past couple weeks I have been trying to understand why God would ever love me.
I grew up an extreme perfectionist, claiming my value from service projects, being the nice Christian girl, and never making mistakes.
I made God into a formula, I constructed my identity from the “good” things I did.
I wholeheartedly believed that God loved me because of the things I did, rather than just me. And I eventually abandoned God because the way I was living was suffocating.
It can be really easy to take Christianity and warp it — make it about the rules. To take someone as gracious and beautiful as Jesus and change what He did into what we do.
I never really understood grace until I left my faith and made mistakes and eventually ran home into the arms of a God who I thought would hate me.
The first time I really felt how far I had strayed from Him was after I went too far with my ex.
I was so lost, so alone, and so longing to be loved.
My head knew Jesus was the answer, but my heart couldn’t believe.
In my bible study, we were talking about how seeing a red-hot glowing stove at a young age meant so desperately wanting to touch it. We went around talking about times that we trusted God and didn’t reach for the stove.
I sat there and couldn’t lie.
“I haven’t trusted God. I have touched the stove. I have been places I wanted to go, so God let me get burned.”
He let me choose, and I chose wrongly. But He was there the whole time. He was waiting with open arms to welcome me back. He let me choose, He let me learn — that is one of the most beautiful things about our God.
He gives us a choice, and no matter how many times we choose wrongly, He will take us anytime, anywhere, after anything, after any sin.
I have this idea in my head that I need to be perfect for God to love me. But the truth is, we are going to make mistakes. We are going to cross boundaries, going to judge other people, going to make poor decisions, going to fall.
But I am learning that it is not about the way we fall but the way we get up.
In my selfish sin, I am starting to turn to grace almost immediately. The power of knowing that God wants to walk with me in my shame rather than judge me is the most freeing truth.
When I sit and saturate in my shame, I am letting darkness win. I am letting the past steal my present joy.
Brene Brown writes about shame and says, “when perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun, and fear is that annoying backseat driver.”
If we let go of our identity in the good things we do, if we release the power of shame that holds us back, we can be fully free to accept God’s love as it is.
With no conditions, no pre-requisites required.
Whatever it is you struggle with, whatever the thing is that you always run back to, there is always grace. God takes our most ugly mistakes and somehow uses them to teach us about Him, to remind us how good He is, and to pull us closer to Him.
-Madi Wiese // @madiwiese