I recently received a letter from an old friend, who wrote to say that she was deeply concerned that I’m not living a happy, fulfilled life because I have strayed from God’s purposes for my life. She described my life as, “disconnected from the light, angry, kicking against the goads, burning paths of destruction…” etc. Reading her letter, the message was painfully clear: she is concerned that I am not living a good Christian life.
Before we go any further, let me clarify that this friend lives hundreds of miles away, and we talk maybe twice a year and visit even less frequently. The truth of the matter is that my friend does not have a clue as to how I live my life since moving from L.A. to Portland almost 8 years ago. She says I’m unhappy? Well, she obviously knows nothing of the joy my granddaughter, children and husband give me on a daily basis. She is ignorant of the depth of friendships and the nurturing community (and Portland food scene) I immerse my life in regularly. Simply put, my friend does not know me, at least not anymore.
In spite of my friend’s expressed “concern” for my spiritual life, absent from the letter was any specific examples that might support her darkened conclusions. Oh wait, I guess that is not exactly true, there was one. Oops. There was that comment about me, “threatening God.”
Okay, it’s confession time. It is true. I have threatened God. In fact, I often try to bend His will to mine. Frankly, I like arguing with God and I like making deals with Him. Sometimes it’s just threats, other times, I’ll scream obscenities at Him. Once, I even dared Him to leave me alone which, fortunately for me, He has not. In the last ten years I have, for the most part, stopped attending church services, I cuss more frequently, I have virtually boarded up my prayer closet, and I’ve let dust settle on my Bible– and yet, He continues to hang in there with me.
For the longest time, my proof of being a good Christian was based on my own actions and my good deeds. Now that I’m no longer “good” in the eyes of some Christians, including my friend, and sometimes myself, the certainty of my faith now rests in God alone. His love is a gift I don’t deserve and can never earn. I no longer have to justify my “bad” to God, for Christ has already done that. Even at my worst, I imagine Jesus smiling down on me, full of love and tender mercies, full of hope for my development, and good plans for my future. And it’s because of this, his unconditional love and his infinite patience for me, that gives me a confidence I’ve never known before. It’s a confidence that frees me to be completely honest with God, which includes the threats, arguing, bad language, as well as the sincere thankfulness and joy that such a relationship brings.
So if my friend really knew me, she would know I’m good with God, and of course, I still love God. I still love God because He loved me first. He loved me before I thought I had to prove I was good. And even when I’m not good, He loves me still!