Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Religiosity and Jesus

Some of my long time readers know my religious history...legalistic religion vs. knowing a God who is loving and compassionate. The God I was taught to love and honor was a harsh taskmaster who punished and shamed His children despite their best efforts. He would raise the bar just as I approached, thinking I had arrived at my destination, I am ok, safe, only to realize it wasn't enough....so I would forge on ahead and try harder. I spent many years living under these expectations. I think there are several reasons why that seemed to be the groove I got stuck in.....one being that I was raised in an alcoholic home where "trying harder" was what sustained me. If I am anything, I am a hard worker. I always wanted to be good and right and ok, believing that if I could be ok enough than all would be well in my world and for the people I loved...so I tried... and tried... and tried... and tried.....

Another was that I was afraid of never being good enough and all that ailed us was really firmly planted on my shoulders right where it belonged. I had no real instruction on how to live, so I watched people, I watched everyone and picked up things that I liked and I tried to implement them into my life.  I tried to weave together a person, me, to create who I thought I should be.

It was an unfathomable amount of work! Good Lord.....can you imagine? Not knowing what to do, or how, but watching everyone around me to pick up cues on how to be a person.

Eventually my life had fallen apart, nothing was going according to plan, my girl was wild, my other kids were afraid and angry, the dad and I sullenly walked together and didn't know what to do to fix it all. I found my way into the rooms of Alanon during this time and it was there that I was introduced to a compassionate God. The compassion and the unconditional love was not based on how hard I tried or worked, but just was there, a gift to me....and it changed my life.

I know if you have been reading me for awhile, you may have read all of the above in earlier posts....but what I am getting at is this. I am watching as people I have known for many years, people who lived under the "try harder" methodology of serving God, people who by all appearances were far more successful than I was, are being broken and changed. People I never in a million years would have thought could change....are. People who believed that doing it right, or that we could attain perfection in God, are now, due to their own heartbreaks, risking all and saying, "Everything is not ok. We are broken."

They are sadly experiencing rejection from within the church. Judgement and criticism, from those who still strive to make themselves presentable to a God who is waiting patiently for us to come and stand before Him, naked, with all of our shame and our fear and our failures and imperfections and let Him have it all and He lovingly takes it and says, "I will handle this now." God however, is carrying these families, these individuals in some beautiful ways. They are coming out of a spiritual prison so to speak, and into freedom where God's children can make mistakes and not be perfect and a loving Father guides them and directs them toward personal growth and toward being close to Him. Because all He really wants is a relationship with His kids....much like all of us here. He has to wait until the child is ready.....just like we do. He knows our pain and our impatience more than we understand.

God uses all sorts of circumstances to bring His children to Himself....there are all sorts of sufferings going on all around us, but God is there with the broken hearted.

For me personally, I have never known God in such a real way as I do today. I am filled with joy and hope when I hear of someone who is on this journey...this journey, painful as it is, of being stripped of all of the pressures to make themselves worthy of knowing God, of being in a relationship with God....because if the truth be told, God sent His son for the broken hearted, imperfect, sick, lonely, for those of us who couldn't pull it all together on our own. We need His grace and His forgiveness and His love and acceptance of us in order to ever be able to believe and to have faith and to surrender our will. Its too terrifying and exhausting any other way. Faith = believing in the unseen.

Our faith is in God....not in a church, or a church staff, or a doctrine. Our faith is in the fact that we couldn't, but God could and He did, He is.

Be gentle with each other....we are all finding our way the best we can, learning to let go and to trust is tricky business.

Much love and God bless us all......
Annette




13 comments:

onemomtalking.com said...

You are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

Debby said...

This is beautiful Annette, simply beautiful. I have no words to add, only gratitude for your experience and how gracefully you share it with your readers. Thank you, you have blessed my soul.

Lolly said...

Amen! That was wonderful! I am right there with you, agreeing with everything you wrote. I've always liked this quote by Max Lucado- "Our Savior kneels down and gazes upon the darkest acts of our lives. But rather than recoil in horror, He reaches out in kindness and says, "I can clean that if you want." And from the basin of His grace, He scoops a palm full of mercy and washes our sin."

Tori said...

Love this Annette! You are an amazing person.

Mary Christine said...

This is beautiful Annette.

Patty D said...

Annette, this is beautiful. I have felt everything you described. Especially about my heartache bringing me to Alanon and thereby connecting with God in a way I never had before. God healed me again today by wrapping me up in his mercy when I needed it. But I asked him to first. I never could do that before...because I felt so unworthy. He is my best friend, my source of strength in my most confused state. If it had not been for the brokenness, I would not have sought him. Now I know he is always there, inside my heart, to calm and comfort me when I reach out. Thank you for sharing so intimately. So many times, your words have helped me at just the right moments to clarify, or validate, or just helo me feel human again. You are a blessing.

Addiction-A Mothers Perspective said...

This is a great post. It wasn't until I had kids of my own, that I began to fully understand the depth of God's love for us. His unending love is the only thing that has carried me through this journey. I'm glad your Alanon group helped you find the truth.

Heather Harris said...

Thank you for sharing this, Annette. I read all of your posts and I've often wondered what you believed about the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, it's so wonderful what you believe :) He is truly an amazing God. Although I haven't lived the life you have, I came to the same conclusion as you: the Lord doesn't expect us to work our way up to His level, He stoops down to our level and meets us where we're at. That is love. A love I wouldn't know how to live without and wouldn't ever want to live without. Praise His name...He is just so wonderful :)

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

Syd said...

I am grateful to have a Higher Power that I find in so many places and in people. I believe in a great connectedness with Nature and others. I am not religious at all. Found no comfort there. But I do find comfort in the spirituality of Al-Anon.

Her Big Sad said...

Annette, I come from a legalistic Christian background just like yours. I too found grace, not at church, but in the rooms.

My journey is a more grateful one now. I feel such relief in being able to place it in His hands, all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and know that He can more than handle it, to our benefit. To my daughter's benefit. These days, I take great comfort in knowing that no matter what, this all ends well for my girl. It may hurt me like hell, but He loves her more than I do and His way of healing her will give her perfect peace, no matter what way He chooses. What more could I want for my precious daughter. His grace will get me through the grieving in my life. A God of love, forgiveness, mercy, healing. A beautiful concept I wish I had learned about sooner.

Birdie said...

I needed to read this today. Thank you, Annette. xo

Patty D said...

You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Liz said...

How are you Annette? Haven't heard from you in a while, and it worries me... Hope everything is OK. ((hugs)) Liz