I had not planned to use this blog as a platform to write any kind of anything about anything. However, I’m admitting to you that the following post will be a whole lot of words that have nothing to do with my precious baby girl… but then again, everything to do with her. SO if you’re not a reader, consider yourself warned.
This past year has been awful. This past year has been incredible. It’s because of this awful, incredible year that I feel like I’m in a place to write this.
Because God uses the awful to teach us about the incredible.
(If you’re reading on because you’re interested as to why this past year was so awful, your curiosity will not be quenched today.)
Let’s start with a confession: I resented my upbringing, my family, my Christianity, my youth group, my life, my non-story story, my fortune, my blessings in high school. And in high school, I had this curse. It was called “a-little-bit-of-rebellion-combined-with-a-lot-of-guilty-conscience.”
Basically, I wanted to participate in all the fun I saw others having, I just couldn’t quite follow through. I was a DO LIST and DON’T LIST kind of good church-going girl and there were just certain things that you DON’T DO as a good church-going girl. So, begrudgingly, I abstained. Most of the time.
If I’m being honest, (and you can go right on ahead and judge me because I feel like I MIGHT redeem myself at the end) my thought was, “It’s SO unfair that people can live a guiltlessly sinful life as an unbeliever and then accept Jesus on their deathbed and be in the SAME Heaven as me. What the …? Not. Fair.”
I know my parents didn’t teach me the theology I claimed as an adolescent, but somehow I got a hold of the idea that being a Christian was all about getting to spend eternity in Heaven. Somehow, I began to do everything right out of fear — fear of God’s wrath, fear of insufficiency, fear of my parents’ disappointment, but mostly, fear of Hell. My thought was, Jesus died for me so that I could go to HEAVEN. I am SO indebted to him. I better pay my dues and volunteer and be nice and love other people and I guess that means I can’t have very much fun on earth… but eventually… maybe… Heaven will be really cool?
So a lot of years and a lot of books and a lot of conversations and a whole lot of life and a small dark night of the soul later, I have a tad different perspective.
I am a little different now than the Jordan Reese of my high school. I am not so green. My life isn’t so untouched. I have seen sin and felt sin and lived sin. I have waded through the depths of sin unable to know if I would reach the other side. Bottom line? Sin isn’t so awesome. But man, Satan makes it look like a molten chocolate cake from Chili’s, and we all know how hard it is to resist one of those.
So with the awe-inspiring wisdom of a 27-year-old woman-child, let me share with you all where I feel like we fall short in teaching middle schoolers and high schoolers and … everyone really … the message of Jesus.
There’s the life, the lessons, the parables, the miracles, the betrayal, the crucifixion, the resurrection, the salvation, and theeeennnnn …. WE GET TO SPEND ETERNITY WITH JESUS.
That’s the prize. Eternity. Bam. Thank ya Jesus.
But for those of us that are ADD, this life already seems like eternity. You expect me to be good for eternity so that I can live eternally? Mmmmk…
There’s so much more.
Did I miss in church when I was growing up that God saves us from the hell in THIS life? Not just the afterlife? That salvation is not trying to be good enough to get into Heaven, but being so grateful for the gift of salvation that you are completely transformed and only desire good things. And are blessed. That God doesn’t give us a long list of things we can’t do, but a book that warns us of the darkness of THIS world and tells the good news of a God that desires us to live in the light for our own protection. He is trying to spare us. Not JUST from an eternity in Hell. But from a life on earth of destruction, heartbreak, hatred, bitterness, vengeance, deceit, anger. Because of Jesus, there is hope in this life, not just hope for the next. There is a hope for freedom, peace, joy, love, kindness, and goodness (shout out to some of the fruits of the spirit).
They probably said it. I just didn’t get it. I still don’t get it, get it, get it. But I think I get it, get it.
I mean, really, you can just watch an episode of The Real Housewives’ of New Jersey to witness the destructive nature of sin.
I’m now sad for the man that lived his whole life without God only to find him on his deathbed. He missed out on a life of fullness and wholeness and foundation. He never fully lived. The IRONY. But praise the Lord that he lets him into the same Heaven as me! And that he doesn’t count the sins of his life on earth against him! God is an equal-opportunity saver.
And all those fun things that I so badly craved? I can now see the full consequences. And I’m so thankful God spared me.
And I think I’m pretty fun anyways. So boo ya.