Some days it’s hard to believe God can use someone like me. I’ve messed up more than I care to admit—my temper’s fiery, my mouth is sometimes filthy, and patience is not my greatest virtue. Model Christian I am not. You know what I mean. Thank you God for loving us just the way we are.
It’s us, not God—for real
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoiced in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2
Hard to believe, but God’s not watching a playback loop of all your greatest mess-ups in Heaven. Come on. He has a lot to take care of. We’re the ones who keep replaying our mistakes. Why can’t we get beyond our failures? No amount of reliving every minute and over-analyzing every word or action will change what’s been done. Plus, think about how much time and energy we waste being so hard on ourselves.
Who’s gonna be a truth teller?
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings…” Romans 5:3a
Suffering, failure, distress, inadequacies—none of those sound fun. No one wants to show people the hard parts of their life. That’s why we have social media; so we can hide what’s really going on. The mama who cursed at her child because he wasn’t paying attention and almost let animals loose isn’t who I want people to see. Nor, do I want you to know how hard it is for me to lean into what I know God is asking me to do when very important people in my life are less than supportive.
But, someone needs to start telling the truth so you realize you’re not alone.
You’re not the only one who feels like a failure most days. You’re not the only woman wondering where she’s supposed to fit in a church model that praises men as leaders and tolerates women who stay in their lane. You’re not the only person who feels completely untethered because you refuse to choose a side.
You are not alone. Thank you God for loving us just the way we are.
Going on is the only option
“knowing that suffering produces endurance…” Romans 5:3b
Every hard thing you’ve ever done has been because of God. You don’t have to enjoy the hard stuff, but you can learn from it. Every single time you fail, struggle, or face something bigger than yourself, you’re building yourself up for the next time. Crushing (or maybe even just surviving) a soul-sucking situation proves you can do hard things.
Relearning how to study while being expected to write research papers on topics new to me almost took me down. But, the first semester of grad school proved I could do it and paved the way for topics I’m still studying. A year and a half later, my research is nowhere near complete and is taking shape like nothing I would have expected. Exciting—yes. Easy—no. Scary—definitely.
Character isn’t about always being right
“and endurance produces character…” Romans 5:4a
Facing the hard parts of life, over and over again, shapes who you are. Let’s be real. Believing in God doesn’t make life easier, some things even get harder.
After the cattle were back in their proper places, I had some repair work to do. My son was sad and I was embarrassed. The yelling mama a few minutes earlier was not who I wanted to be. I took his face in my hands and looked right at him, apologizing for getting angry and cursing. Definitely not perfect, but trying to be better.
“and character produces hope…” Romans 5:4b
Without much effort, I can fall head first into what I like to call the “doom cycle.” It’s the place I go when I’m not careful—everything is falling apart, I can’t do anything right, and there’s no use trying anymore. (It’s as melodramatic as you are envisioning, but it feels real in the moment.) Without hope, there would be no escape the doom cycle. Hope—the absolute belief and expectation God is going to show up, be who he says he is, and do what he says he’ll do. Faith sustains you through struggles, builds your endurance, and defines your character, but hope carries you forward.
Hope asks you to believe yet again even though everything around you seems to be failing. Hope is not found in you; hope is found in God. You’re never alone.
Thank you God for loving us just the way we are
“and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
More than anything else, remember this—God is not ashamed of you. You are not alone.
No matter how God’s words have been used to belittle, stifle, or harm you before, God’s love is not limited by your failures. He doesn’t expect you to be perfect, in fact he already knows you’re not. Your questions are not too much for him. Nor will he hold your past against you.
In your church, at work, with your family—you want someone to accept and encourage you, but you’re always left on the outside looking in. God didn’t make a mistake. Your strong personality, tender heart, inquisitive mind—he has a plan. Don’t choose a or b to make someone else comfortable—embrace the tension of the middle and find comfort knowing God is there with you.
Thank you God for loving us just the way we are.
Be Thankful–Embrace the Tension. Look toward God.
Enjoy the full Thankful series.
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