Something Is Changing

I wrote this 10 months ago; it’s still true, so I’ll finally post it.

I don’t think a person can go through life without changing. That’s a generally agreed upon statement. Over time, people change. We change their opinions on things, our tastebuds change, we understand ourselves better and act differently than before, now needing not so much to please people but to be ourselves. This gradual change is pretty normal. But watching the one person who gave her life for my happiness, physically deteriorate; this creates a pretty drastic and relatively quick change.

I’ve had questions about my faith all my life; that’s pretty normal and I assumed that as life went on, I’d figure things out at a steady gradual pace. But now, I need answers; I need answers immediately. I don’t need someone’s theology, someone’s opinion on Jesus, someone’s thoughts and speculations about what Jesus might say or do in any particular situation. I need to know. Gone are the days where I blindly follow rules and regulations. Gone are the days where I stagnantly, thoughtlessly obey what people tell me I’m supposed to do or not do, say or not say. Why did Jesus come in the first place? To bring more rules for us to obey? Don’t dance like that, don’t say that, don’t be with that person, sit up straight, smile and say ‘thank you’. Because if this is what He’s about, I’m out.

Here’s what I’ve been learning through the people closest to me and here’s what’s changing me:

We were created free to eat from any tree in the garden, and there was an option to eat from the tree of life or from another tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil (the knowledge of right and wrong), though they were advised against it. (Gen. 2:16-17) You know the story, we ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil which led us straight into death; you know this actually meant not physical death but rather a life in bondage to the law. In other words, death. So Jesus came, died and resurrected in order to bring back back the option of choosing Life. But it seems to me, we’ve forgotten that the law brings death. It always has, and it always will.

I can choose to live under the law (continuing to eat from the tree of knowledge of good/evil); or I can choose Life. I have a choice. And it’s realizing that I have a choice, that’s changing my world. I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to do, because I’m supposed to do it, not because I felt like I had an option but because it was ‘right’. Even making all of those ‘right’ choices can land you in chains and bondage just as easily as making the ‘wrong’ choices can. When the focus is on the law, it doesn’t matter which side of the law you end up on, it’s still bondage.

So what does this have to do with my mother? Why is this changing me now? Frankly, because I don’t care about doing what’s right, just to do what’s right anymore. It’s a sick game and I want to quit. If life if just about making the best choices and still there’s a chance you’ll get screwed, then I don’t want a part of it. It’s maniacal. But if life is really more about a relationship, and freedom to make choices based on that relationship, then I’m more interested in that. If my life is based on doing all the right things all the time, then I’m becoming my own judge of what think I deserve. I obviously am looking to gain something from all that hard work. But if I can still get sick and die of some random disease after doing all this work to make sure I’m ‘good’, then what’s the point? Unfortunately, the further into the law you go, and the better and better you become at it, the more miserable, judgmental and graceless you become.

If I can get out of the world of judgmental legalism, then I’m more interested in finding what this Life really has to offer. If there is really a God who cares about me as an individual and about my issues and cares about things that I care about, then I’m far more interested in Him than the god that is after behavior modification. If this Life is really an emotional being who is hurting because I’m hurting and isn’t tallying up my good points verses my bad ones, then I need Him, ’cause I’m not sure how to handle all these emotions and I need someone to carry me. (but not in the way that annoying poem goes…you know, the one about the steps in the sand and Jesus carrying me)

Here’s what changed my world: Confessing sin to my closest friends and they sat there and listened and said, ‘I’m so sorry you’re hurting’. No judgements were cast, they didn’t throw in the towel and say, ‘Well, you’re headed straight for hell!’ And it was then that I realized 1) I want this Life and it’s worth fighting and wrestling for and 2) more people need to experience this type of Life; cause once you taste this Life/grace everyone talks about but very few show it, it will change you forever.

The game of legalism/law abiding seems so appealing. But it’s low hanging fruit that’s really just rotten and dead; and frankly offers no hope to those who are really hurting and need Life so desperately.

Stingy Grace

Something that I’m realizing about myself lately (and have been in denial about for a while) is that I’m fairly stingy when it comes to giving out grace. This week the Lord has decided it’s time that I actually deal with it. I was talking with a friend of mine over Sweet Frog Fro-Yo about how I really have no sympathy for people who are just straight up irresponsible. People who can never find their keys, are notoriously late, those who lose their wallet almost daily or just plain undependable. To me, I don’t understand how you can live like that without recognizing it as a problem and just fixing it! If you keep losing your keys, then DUH, you should probably start using a bag to carry them in so they always have a place! Well I was discussing my annoyance with people like this with someone who we both knew, was just like this. But I had already known that it was a problem with me and not so much with them. It was my lack of grace and I was more of confessing that I needed to get a better attitude about it.

Ashley looked at me and just said, “You know, Emily, just because it isn’t an issue for you, doesn’t mean it isn’t an issue for other people. You might have no idea what it’s like to be forgetful or to just not pay attention to details, but it isn’t the same way for me. And likewise you have issues that I don’t understand. We just have to have grace with people.” The way she said it was so loving and really helped me to see that, yeah this is actually something that these types of people probably know they have a problem and are trying to be better. I don’t know. Or maybe, like me in so many ways, they see it is a problem and are avoiding fixing the issue. Either way, who am I to not give them the grace that I receive from the Lord every moment of my life?!

Well, fast forward about 10 minutes and I go over to my car. Well, at least I went to where I had parked my car. It wasn’t there. I, knowingly, parked illegally. I had done it before and gotten away with it, but not Tuesday night. So I call Ashley and tell her I need a ride. She just burst out laughing – given our previous conversation. I don’t blame her – I laughed along as I thanked God I had an emergency fund I could tap into to pay the ungodly amount of $145 to get my car back. Side note: if you demand CASH ONLY! then when I bring you cash, you better be prepared with change.

So moving on to Thursday night Community Group where the discussion is: Sin. We went around talking about how we relate to getting out of sin, maybe justifying it or only regretting the consequences. But one that stuck out to me was how I will judge other people for being irresponsible but when my car gets towed I say, “well I knew there was a chance and I was taking a risk that I was aware of.” Really? Come on, Emily. Just say you messed up and move on. No one’s hurting here except you!

Moral of the story: We don’t know where people are in their walk, what they are dealing with or what their struggles are. If we think we deserve grace – then we shouldn’t be so stingy with it toward others.