“And I am a Son.”

Forever.

God’s grace if offensive.  It looks at my works, both good and bad, and dismisses them, unjustly and unfairly.  The grace of God does not hold me to account as I feel I ought to be.  It does not reward my successes and it does not punish me for my failures.

That bothers me because there are times when I very much would like to be honored and glorified for what God has done through me.  I want the credit, and when I don’t get it, I pout.  Like a child.

But there are also times when I hate myself.  I hate myself for the things I’ve done, words I’ve said, pain I’ve caused and mistakes I’ve made.  What’s more is that I am not without temptation to recommit the same mistakes that have already shown themselves to be self-sabotage; wretched man that I am!  And it is in this shame that I turn to God, critical and hypocritical and demand his wrath.  I want his fury because I know I deserve it.

But God, in wisdom, mercy and love, does not punish me.  He accepts me as I am.  He looks at my mess and does not critique.  He does not call me out and he does not shame me before the crowd.  Rather, he offers to help.  He offers to enter into my overwhelming inadequacy and share with me everything that I need, including the ability to receive his grace.

This both offends me and brings me to tears, be it this morning on the prairie while watching the sunrise, or here and now, in my kitchen while I meditate on the truth.

I am prepared to be a slave.  Life is supposed to be hard.  But to be a son of God–to be welcomed into a home I sought to destroy by a father I rejected passively and then actively.  That, I am completely unprepared for.  That level of love and acceptance breaks me, and I am left neither proud nor ashamed, but only entirely amazed.

Repent and believe, for the kingdom is here.

How to Stay in the Suck

Dealing with stuff you don’t want to deal with

Sometimes life sucks

In these moments, or months, or years, we run to that which we trust most.  We run to that which we believe will give us comfort.  We run to that which we believe will help us to cope with the pain, frustration, anger, and suckiness of our situation.

These things that we trust can take on a few different forms.  Maybe you look for solace in a bottle.  Maybe you look for peace in a paycheck.  Maybe you trade your life for attention because you think you’d rather be dead than unnoticed.

Whatever it is, the shitty reality is that none of these things–none of these worldly coping mechanisms is enough.  Eventually, they all fall apart and leave us still wanting.  Still insecure and unsure.  Still desperate for comfort.

But knowing that isn’t enough.  You can read these words, and maybe even believe them to be true in your mind, but until your false savior fails you so hard that you stop giving it your trust, your hope, and your life, you’ll keep doing it.  You’ll keep placing the tremendous weight of your broken identity onto the weak shoulders of a woman, a man, a substance, an employer or a kid until it hurts enough that you stop.

My encouragement to you

If you still find yourself trusting in anything other than Christ, pray that it fails you.  Pray  that it fails you sooner than later so that you can start trusting in He who can and has carried the weight of your iniquity.  Pray that your false savior disappoints you so profoundly that you forever remember why it is unworthy of your trust.

And, if you have already experienced this pain and disappointment and know not where to go with your burdens, frustration, anger, questions, grief, stress and aggravation–pray.  Pray to God your Father and our Creator that he remind you who he is what he has done.  Remember that this life is temporary, and that ultimately, all will be made right.  Everything will be okay.

I don’t like to dwell on shitty situations.  I like to get through messiness quickly.  If I could be on the phone with a tow truck driver before the air bag finished deploying, I would be.  But sometimes, and only sometimes, it’s better to stay in the suck for a while.  I’m not advocating for victim-mentality or woe-is-me moments, and I’m not saying you should make an award-winning pity post every time you have a bad day. #cantkeepmedown

I am saying that sometimes it’s wise to stay in the suck, especially if you had some responsibility in causing it, and if staying in it helps you to see your responsibility well enough to keep you from causing a similar kind of suck in the future.

Know this: you are not alone.  You are not uncared for, and you are not the sum of your failures.  It will get better, and it will be okay.  Trust Him and Him alone.

Romans 8:18