I fall often. Actually, it’s more like jumping from the roof of a building.
Okay, it’s really more like sneaking out the window and then finding myself stranded on a ledge. For a moment it feels like I’m on top of the world, but gravity has a way of bringing me down.
I struggle with my identity in Christ, even as I read in the Bible that I am God’s beloved creation and he died for ME.
I’ve felt God’s compassion in very real, almost measurable ways. I’ve heard his voice almost audibly, felt him smiling down at me, and I’ve even felt his loving embrace through my rebellious and willful ways.
I’ve “heard” him say “I am pleased,” only to do something that is displeasing to him an hour or a day later.
He has called me to do things I do not feel capable of doing, so I run.
I stumble, get stuck in the briars, and then reach out to God to save me.
And he does. Every. Single. Time.
I want to give up. My blog isn’t getting the readership I’d hoped for. My novels aren’t getting published. Relationships never last. Some days it feels like nothing is what I want or expected it to be. Even worse…some days I feel like a gigantic, huge disappointment to God.
I think of my earthly father’s face when I was 18 and my boyfriend came over with hickeys on his neck. I’ll never forget the way my dad looked at me, his lips pressed tightly together, a dull shock in his eyes, and that small, nearly imperceptible shake of his head. I didn’t worry about getting yelled at or lectured. My dad never did that sort of thing. His disappointment was enough.
But I also remember feeling a little bit touched that he would care. My dad was there when I was growing up, but he was never really there. He was the person sitting in the same spot on the couch each night, watching wrestling (back when it was still WWF) or some cheesy sci-fi movie. He liked spicy chilly and horseshoes and he was the one who started campfires and hooked up the trailer when we went camping.
Other than that, my dad didn’t interact with me or my sisters very much. His disappointment over my boyfriend’s hickeys was a blip of affection from him I didn’t see very often.
Sometimes I wonder if I see my heavenly father the same way; some distant being sitting on a couch somewhere who pays no attention to me until I mess up. He’s busy doing other, more important things. And as I’m busy mowing about my life, he’s only in the periphery.
Of course, I know that is not the case and I have spent a great deal of time and energy learning and accepting what the love of God truly means.
Obviously, I’m still learning.
A lot of times our understanding of God comes from our earthly perspectives of our own fathers. I think a girl who grew up in a home with a loving father would have an easier time coming to understand God’s love than I had with an emotionally distant father.
But the same thing that sometimes keeps me distant from God also draws me nearer to him. I understand God’s grace in a real and powerful way because I have screwed up so many times. My earthly father might have been disappointed in me from time to time, but I was never given the opportunity to explain or to hear him say that he forgives me. So I not only had to learn the foreign concept of a father’s love, but also the even more foreign concept of grace. As God often does, he taught me the lesson of grace and forgiveness through practice. And more practice. And then even more.
God does not want us to sin, but sometimes our mistakes soften our hearts just enough to allow God to deliver the message in way we are receptive to it.
My heart is very soft at the moment. I feel like a failure in so many ways. I am the wayward child, the prodigal daughter. I hold my broken heart in my hands, and I know I did the right thing, but I still come freely to God, saying “I am hurting. I miss him.”
I’ve had moments of anger toward God, even as he wraps his arms around me. If we are supposed to come to God with the faith of a child, I am coming to him with the disposition of one, screaming “It’s not fair! Why would you let me fall in love with him if you were just going to make me walk away?” And then I reach my hand up to God’s, still sobbing and pouting, and I allow him to lead me to where I know I need to be.
I don’t understand this. At all. I don’t know what God is doing. But I know my daddy loves me and I’m learning to trust him through his love and grace. Maybe, someday, I won’t need to step out onto the ledge to get the message.