I’ve always liked to “have it all together”. I thrived off of being composed and perfectionist-oriented. I wasn’t always, completely, like this but I learned over the years to say and do the right thing. I learned how to put forth the effort needed to satisfy the (high) expectations of others. I gave up old things, took on new things, and coupled with my people-pleasing inclination, I learned how to be whatever I needed to be.
Years later, when everything came crashing down, I learned that I knew very little about who I wanted to be. I spent so much time focusing on fulfilling expectations that, left alone, completely free to be whoever I wanted to be/whoever God was making me to be, I felt lost.
In all honesty, I’m still getting a handle on that. I’m still learning what I want my daily routine to look like. I’m still being reminded that so much of our lives are made up in the way that we steward our time and resources in day-to-day living. I’m still learning to be faithful and productive – not to meet an expectation, but out of a desire to live wisely as I walk in truth.
The greatest blessing to my heart, the knowledge that frees me to learn and grow and love, is that I’m LOVED just the way I am. The abundant, overwhelming, incomprehensible grace that is lavished upon me is so joyfully unexpected and undeserved that it makes me want to be better. Not because I have to meet some requirement or live up to some standard so I can earn something but as a response to the love that has pursued me despite my shortcomings.
I come alive in MERCY and I am able to live by GRACE. This is my HOPE; the overwhelming kindness that frees me to be counted as worthy even though I have so much road to travel as I learn and grow.
I look at my basement and at first glance I’m face-to-face with shame, confronted with all of the ways I know I need to grow, all of the ways I don’t measure up and all of expectations I put on myself that I want to fulfill.
Then I remember that below the basement is a foundation that is built on LOVE and TRUTH. It’s a foundation that is forgiving, compassionate, accepting, gracious and STRONG. That foundation is in the closest proximity to my “basement” and still, the house stands (wow).
It’s there that I realize that my house isn’t built on the basement but on the foundation. The bright lights and the beautiful colors on the first floor only stand and remain through the strength of the foundation, not the “work-in-progress” of the basement.
I’m thankful that the strongest part of the house supports the weakest, ugliest, disorganized part of the house and that, even still, the mess has no bearing on the beauty that lies above.
I see so much of my growing heart in this analogy. I see so much of Jesus and his grace in this picture, that he, completely God, would come and live in the closest proximity to us in our weakness as we are constantly being redeemed and restored.
I like that.
This is the good news, people:
You, in all of your weakness and imperfection, can’t co-exist with a perfect Person through all of eternity. You don’t deserve heaven, or peace, or joy, or unconditional love. You’ve screwed yourself through all of the ways that you’ve failed. BUT! The good news is that there is good news! Jesus is real and alive and near to us, whether you believe it or not. Jesus, fully God and fully man (I can’t wrap my mind around that) bore everything you deserved or will ever deserve all so that you can actually LIVE…forever…without any of the punishment (wrath) that you should have coming to you.
The good news is that God, you know…BIG GOD, the CREATOR of the whole universe – he LOVES your ugly. He loves your broken, beat-down, pathetic, water-treading, pretty-much-drowning weakness. He’s on your side, cheering for you, believing the best in you, working everything out for you and he’s not afraid that you won’t make it.
I love that. It’s completely irrational and undeserved but it’s life and HOPE to my heart, no matter what valley or shadow I walk through.