When I was young, I gave myself tally marks for everything, a good mark when I’d done what I was supposed to, a bad mark if I’d strayed the path and given God grief in the process.
Some nights I’d lay in bed, worried about God’s heart toward me, writing in my journal every “I’m sorry for…” I could think of to get myself back in good standing again.
As an adult, it’s taken me years and years and years to understand who God is and what grace means, and I’m still not even close.
Who is God at the end of the day? What does He or She or It speak to us, and how does Jesus give us His presence, really?
When I was young, God sat on a mighty throne with a scowl on His face, and He threw fear out at me like lightning bolts,
spits of grief and shame and guilt like fire.
God was more like that preacher who stood at the front of my Baptist church and told to repent, repent, repent, beat yourself up until you’re bloody so you know what it’s like to sin, until you see yourself for what you really are.
Repent, repent, repent, so that you just might get into heaven, you just might look God in the eye and convince Him that you’ve finally earned an eternity in His presence.
That followed me day after day,
and still today, I fear those darts, I wait for punishment and hope for reward, and I really don’t find God in any of it.
No, God is there at the other end of the table, waiting with a meal in front of Him, asking me to come and eat and be still and listen and let Him tell me the stories again–
the stories of myself and of His kindness and of spirit-truths that I’ll never quite understand.
Somehow, I have to hold myself in a different position, a child that is loved and held and not looked at with judgmental eyes at every twist and turn.
I am still prone to mistakes, still full of questions, still less present than I’d like to be every single day.
But if Lent is about something, it’s about a path, about a journey toward a full wholeness, toward a moment of eternity, a miracle after 3 days in the dark.
So Lent takes me somewhere, and I must let it do its work, work that leads me back to God, the one who pulls me close and looks right in my eyes and says that Love covers every bit of who I once was, who I am today, and who I will ever be.