Wherever you're at

Faith is an action, not a thing which you posess. Faith that is owned is not faith at all. It is a vague attempt to be something which I am not. But when I attempt to grow and practice faith in action, I find that it is more like a sport--something we can all do, but most of us need practice to get better at.

I was raised attending church. I was taught the Bible stories from a young age, read my Bible almost daily growing up, prayed all the time. But those are not really practices of faith, at least not the mature faith that God wants for us to exercise.

One of the things I've struggled with my whole life is a relationship with God as a parent, as my father. I used to think that I was alone in this struggle.

I had no real earthly father, although I know who my biological father is, he has chosen repeatedly to remain silent and absent from my life. It was his choice and not mine. I longed, still long on some level, for my dad to reach out and want to build a relationship with me. I'm old enough to realize that there is no chance for the fairy-tale like relationship of father and daughter as Hollywood embraces. But he is my dad, and I am his flesh. Acknowledgement and acceptance of that is a huge step in building a relationship of any sort. But while he acknowledges the fact that I am his blood, he does not accept me. And the message of my childhood was that I was not good enough to be his daughter.

My mother struggled with me as well, marred by the untreated mental illness that rob me of her parentage. The roles were often reversed from a very young age, leaving me to parent her from about age 12 and on. The message from my mother was quite the opposite--I was too much for her to handle within the context of her life. She was alternately over-permissive as a parent and uber-strict at other times. The consistency and boundaries that children need to develop and feel safe were most often absent from my upbringing.

Accepting God as a loving, nurturing, accepting parent is difficult for me because I have not experienced that kind of parenting on earth. But I want so badly to have that kind of relationship with Him! I want to be accepted as I am--wherever I'm at--loved, adored, and corrected until I become all that He designed me to be!

I can see that only God is truly capable of this. Although I felt judgment repeatedly from my parents, I realize that the only one who has the power to judge is God, and yet, His judgment is so different that I struggle to understand it! Although He holds the power to show me just how unworthy and sinful, how messed up I am at the core, God comes down to touch me and says, "I love you right now--wherever you're at--and although I want you to become more, who you are right now is enough."

You see, sometimes the first step to faith in action is believing that when God tells you that, well...that He's right. You have value. You are beautiful, you are loved. And for right now, you are everything that you need to be. And when you accept God's acceptance and let Him work in you, you will grow and blossom into all that you are supposed to be.

Judgment is simple to us. You are either right or wrong. And I believe that people who know the Word, who practice Christianity, often make things black and white that aren't. You see, we are all sinners. None of us on our own could merit salvation and grace. Yet we know that God sent His son to die for ALL of us, once we were good enough? NO! While we were still mired in sin (Romans 5:8).

God has the right to tell each one of us that we are not good enough. We are sinners-- prone to wander, slow to learn, still in process, far from having `arrived,'--and yet, God reaches out to us and says: I have loved you with an everlasting love! He comes to us wherever we're at, reaches down and grabs us up into His arms as a Daddy would do with his precious child, and lavishes the affection of Grace upon us. He corrects us when we need it, but he doesn't scold us.

He loves us where we're at until we become what He wanted for us to be.

Father, I often struggle with human judgment--against me, and also by me. But I realize that only you hold the scales of justice in your hand and have the right to judge. And yet, you don't chastise me and beat me down with the reminders of my failures. Instead, you reach out to pick me up and love me, you kiss my boo-boo's and coddle my insecurities because you love me sooooo much. You who hold the right to judge do not. And yet, who have a broken scale want to see everything as right and wrong and to criticize or judge others for their mistakes, and even myself. Tear out the parts of me that what to see the world in the black and white of right and wrong and teach me instead how to love and practice grace--to others and myself. Replace my need to approve or disapprove of things with the desire to accept and love. And I know while this happens, you will love me where I'm at. And while I allow you to do this work in me, I will be strengthening my faith in you. In Jesus' name, AMEN.


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