Phil and Cait just left for church and I’m taking some time to reflect on 2017. For me, it’s been a time of extreme stress, loss, adjustment, and spiritual growth. I’m thankful for all God has taught me but I can’t say I wouldn’t have been happy just learning it from a book instead of experiencing it! 😉
First of all, stepping down from a 30-year ministry and attendance at JaxNaz has been difficult, and the loss of community has been painful. While we still see some people socially or run into friends in the grocery store, the camaraderie of ministry is missing. Phil and I both have described it as a feeling of being spiritually homeless. But we also know that this is in God’s plan for now. It’s not a permanent thing and God has a new plan and new spiritual home down the road for us.
Secondly, tomorrow, December 18, is the one-year anniversary of finding out that one of our children is lgbt. This has brought panic, fear, tears, study, loss (or shallowing) of a few relationships, spiritual growth, and above all, a personal knowledge of grace. THAT, I wouldn’t change!
For the past 47 years, since I accepted Christ, I have struggled to accept God’s grace for myself. I can give grace to you but giving it to myself has always been a cop-out and an excuse to get away with not doing things right. I have begged God through the years to help me grasp it and then kept right on kicking myself spiritually for not being perfect. I have gone through years of feeling that God will let me into Heaven when I die because I have tried to walk in relationship with Him, but He doesn’t really LIKE me. It has been impossible to eradicate my old way of thinking and experience the freedom that I have seen in so many other Christians.
Enter, Daughter Number Two… Through her, I have grasped grace, and I will be eternally grateful. Please don’t hear what I am going to say as an indictment on her or her orientation. It’s not at all. This writing is ultimately not about her, but about me. When I could not escape the legalistic teachings of my past for myself, I could escape them for her. And coming to the belief that Jesus first sees the heart of the person standing in front of him, and not just the always-changing doctrines of His church, has been absolutely freeing.
I have finally accepted that grace is all I’ve got. And it’s enough. I must depend totally on His mercy to cover my failures, faults and sins. Grace lets me throw away my checklist of things to do, or not to do, to make God love me. Grace makes it okay when I don’t perform the way I want to. Grace is, above all, trusting in His nature instead of my performance. It is being able to trust that, “the God I KNOW would never create someone with a particular orientation, and then hate them for it.” Grace is finally understanding that His ways truly are “higher than our ways” and His love is deeper than I can imagine. God’s grace even covers those to whom I am tempted to refuse grace, and I’m so thankful it does. It gives me the ability and freedom to love others instead of having to decide, according to my own calculations, where they’re at on the obedience scale.
When I worked at the church, one of my fellow staff members had a license plate on her vehicle that states, “Grace wins.” It’s a great reminder to me, because…
It DOES win.
It’s ALL we’ve got.
And it’s MINE!