Day 15: Lent for my Mistakes


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.



5 thoughts on “Day 15: Lent for my Mistakes

  1. This might not be the place for a personal conversation, but I have to say that this post makes me profoundly sad. Poor God. He has gotten such a bad rap! And we are the worse for it. I am grateful that your spiritual journey is taking you to a better place. And I am confident that your words will touch many people, especially those who have not yet left behind that old picture of God.

  2. This is a topic dear to my heart, and you touched my heart by your writing.

    On a more theological level, you might be interested in reading a blog entry titled “How Substitutionary Atonement Fails” at :

    The Lord’s Prayer makes no mention of love, but rather speaks of forgiveness. This is because forgiveness is the key to love. When we feel unforgiven, it is hard to be forgiving of others; how can we love whom we do not first forgive? and how can we NOT forgive when we know God forgives our every sin? or not love others, when God loves us, disregarding all our shortcomings? In my view, the Good News that Jesus brought is that God is infinitely forgiving and infinitely loving, from which it flows that we should aspire to these qualities ourselves..

    I do not believe in a wrathful God, so I do not believe that Jesus had to die on the cross to atone for our sins. My belief is that Jesus died as a symbol of God’s forgiveness, so that a world which believed that every debt must be repaid and every sin atoned might know that we are forgiven by grace. Every attempt to portray a wrathful God works against all for which Jesus lived and died, and hinders the creation of an earthly Kingdom of God founded on forgiveness and love.

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