Today I'm grateful for how far I've come in my relationship with God. The guilt and fear that used to motivate me to serve so I would be worthy of love has been ebbing away gently for a long time, leaving peace and contentment in its wake. Now I understand on a cellular level that I am loved simply for who I am, without working to earn it or keep it. I am loved because I exist, and for no other reason.
It's a whole new world for me. I understand Jesus's death on the cross and resurrection very differently too, and where I felt straitjacketed and penned in before, I now experience freedom to breathe and move and be who I am without judgement. I honestly can't believe I ever lived any other way, but I must remember to be kind to those who are in a different place. It seems like slavery versus freedom, and once you've tasted freedom, there is no other option.
I believe that God loves everyone in this pure, all-encompassing way, if only we can get all of the dogma out of our system in order to experience it. I will spend the rest of my life opening up my mind and heart to experience his love, grace, forgiveness and liberty. On this day, where we remember that Jesus died to save us, I am thinking about his profound final words on the cross, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." Forgiveness was on his mind, even in his last moments of life, and he understood our brokenness and mistakes, and loved us anyway.
Love God. Love others. These four words have revolutionized my faith and brought it all back to the basics. I've had to strip away the endless layers of junk that doesn't matter, that simply clogs up the beauty of loving God, being loved by him, and extending that love and kindness to other people.
Today I'm grateful for Jesus's love and care for me, and for everyone who has ever lived, and I feel close to God in a way that I haven't for years. Conflict does that for you. It takes me out of my own abilities and draws me toward God, because he loves me no matter what, and accepts me for who I am.
I used to pretend for God the way I pretended for people, putting on my mask and smiling when I was actually dying inside. Now I'm learning to remove that mask, and I'm finding that his love can go deep and heal what is jagged and torn inside of me, from my past and my present. If I allow him to, he will speak clearly to me, and show me, again and again, how much he loves me. I don't have to work for it. He's already done it for me. I can simply be, and open my hands and my heart, and be loved.
It's transformational; there is no power like unconditional love to break us down and rebuild us so we are stronger and better people. It's been happening this way for me, and I've never felt as vulnerable as I do right now, but I believe this work is getting me somewhere better than I've ever been before. If I'm patient, I think I'll get there. It's a process, and a long one, filled with uncertainty and moments of great joy, but Jesus is leading me somewhere, and I'm more than happy to take his hand and walk where he is going.