I’m about to confess to something.
I promised myself that I would always be honest here. Any writer, no matter how ‘professional’ or what-have-you they are, should strive to maintain a constant sense of honesty and integrity. Integrity is a big deal, no matter if you’re running a business or teaching your kids.
So I want to keep that sense of honesty going here on my blog. So here we go…
I’m not good at the Christianity thing.
There. I said it.
Now let me elaborate.
I make a lot of mistakes. A lot. More than I should. I’m sure by now most of you have probably read my testimony, so you know what kind of things I have battled in the past. Alcoholism was a big, huge, major problem in my life when I was 17. So was promiscuity. I knew Jesus, even then, and still made mistakes. Those big, obnoxiously huge, mistakes.
Some things don’t change. Because I still make those same kind of mistakes. Not in the form of alcoholism and promiscuity, but in the sense of the ‘big, obnoxious’ terminology.
I yell at my kids. Both of them. Even the two year old who honestly isn’t really old enough to know when he’s doing something that we, as parents, consider wrong. I show partiality between my children; when one is behaving and the other isn’t, it’s easy and not uncommon for me to think silently that the one who is being good is my favorite child. And it can go either way many, many times per day.
I get mad at my husband over stupid stuff. I find myself falling victim to comparison; especially when it comes to my marriage or my children.
Look what her husband did for her…
Look at how well her children are behaving…
Look, her husband bought her/brought her/gave her [insert materialistic item here]…
I could go on and on and on about the sin and the mistakes that litter my life. I mentioned last week that I battle internally with comparison and envy. It’s a nasty little green eyes monster that threatens to steal my joy.
But more so than even just that, I just simply suck at Christianity…at “religion.”
Religion says that you need to get up early in the morning before your children and your husband and spend time with God…reading your Bible, praying over your family and their activities and their hearts, confessing your transgressions…all of those things you’re supposed to do. I like to sleep until I absolutely have to pull myself out of bed…usually not until the boys reach the point of snatching the blankets off of me and pleading for me to get them some breakfast. I don’t do mornings.
Religion says that I should have probably already read the entire Bible completely through at least once. That certainly I’ve completed or am in the process of completing one of the many Bible Studies that are out there in order to grow spiritually and strengthen my walk with Christ. I purchased the Seamless study by Angie Smith the day that it came out and I’ve made it maybe two weeks into it. Not because I don’t want to do it, but because I just simply don’t have time. I work from home and take classes at night, so there are honestly days where I just don’t squeeze it in.
Religion says that I should attend church every time the doors are open…Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday nights. And while I love church and I love our Pastor and his sermons, my late night Study Sessions and my workload leaves me exhausted 99% of the time. Sunday is only one of two days that I don’t technically have to get up and get going first thing. So there are a lot of mornings (more in the recent months than there were earlier this year) that I hit the snooze button (who am I kidding, I typically don’t even set an alarm) and sleep until someone wakes me. Or if we are up on a Sunday morning, we tend to treat the boys to breakfast at IHOP. Let me reiterate, I don’t do mornings and I really, really love pancakes and bacon. Mostly bacon.
All of that to reemphasize the point that, according to religion, I am not very good at Christianity. I’m messy, dirty, sleepy, over-worked, and just flat out tired more often than I am awake and on the go. I drink too much coffee (venti white mocha with a double shot, please) and I don’t read my Bible every day. My radio station is usually set on country music. I read (and watched) 50 Shades of Grey and have never read a single book by Elisabeth Elliot and have never finished a Beth Moore Bible Study. I’ve never even been to a Christian Women’s Retreat.
I fall off the wagon, a lot. I share images and heart felt messages from my time in Scripture when I get a chance to dive in and always strive to challenge myself to keep on that path and on track with making a point to live my life like that. But I fall off that wagon. A lot.
I’m not perfect guys. But you know what I have learned from it?
We serve a God who forgives.
And he forgives a lot.
I’ve also learned that “religion” and all of it’s “rules” don’t mean that you love Jesus. Loving Jesus means so much more than just doing the right things and checking a box off of a list of requirements. Being a Christian is about a relationship (pause to acknowledge that yes reading your Bible, praying diligently and purposefully, and attending church are part of the ways to build that relationship) with Jesus Christ. But falling off the wagon…not always doing what you are ‘supposed’ to do, doesn’t mean that the Lord doesn’t love you anymore or loves you any less.
It means that you are human and that you made a mistake. And you know what? You’re going to make more. A lot more. You did exactly what God knew you would do and you stumbled. Maybe you stumbled a lot. Maybe you stumbled in a really, really big way. Maybe you do struggle with alcoholism or with drugs or you had an affair or you did that one thing that you swore you would never do. Maybe you’ve been condemned by religious people because you fell and because you make mistakes. Maybe you’ve felt shunned by “God’s people” and that’s left a bitter taste in your mouth about Christianity. Trust me I get it.
But God knew all those mistakes that you would make. He knew it from the start. He knew that you’d fall flat on your face and that you’d be ugly and messy and full of sin.
That’s what Grace is. That’s why it exists. That’s why it will keep on existing.
That’s why I don’t do religion.
I do Grace.
Grace, grace, God’s grace…
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within…