“How am I supposed to pray? How am I supposed to forgive? How do I become a good Christian?” Amy’s questions were answered with grace, as she shares here and on her blog, “A Grace Full Life.” (Your Thin Place story can encourage others. Here’s how you can share.)
Ever since I was a young child, I knew about God. I knew of the name Jesus. Somehow I just believed without knowing everything there was to believe.
I grew up as a product of divorce.
Letters came to me with scriptures, commands. I followed along, doing just as he wrote, obeying my father. Thinking I needed to please my Father.
I’d ask questions and hear from the parent-who-worshiped-God that I needed to grow up, and that I am selfish.
I’d wonder why he moved away and left me. I’d feel sad that he didn’t seem interested in my life.
The other parent told me not to do drugs and all the bad things that could happen. I’d listen and obey.
I’d think back to a memory of a different kind of smoke being passed around between adults.
I’d never mention this memory but always wonder about it.
For a short while I did what I saw other people do. I tried smoking cigarettes and drinking beer, trying to earn friendships. Boys took me on far off roads – more interested in pleasing themselves than protecting me.
Going away to college meant I could live my own way – following the knock on my heart without pleasing others.
I searched for a church and made friends with people who shared my faith. I didn’t know quite what I believed, but I knew I believed and I felt accepted.
Soon, though, I was full of shame for a mistake that shouldn’t have happened to me. I ran.
I was embarrassed, so I avoided those Jesus-believing-friends.
I was ashamed to call myself a Christian when I’d just made a choice that wasn’t so Christian-like – a choice that showed my weakness for desiring my parent’s unconditional affection.
My heart wanted to believe I was forgiven, so I tried to prove I was worthy.
As I grew, I hurt worse than ever. I knew that to call myself a Christian I had to forgive, and so I tried.
But the hurt remained.
I tried for years to forgive completely and hoped that all would be good.
I put myself down for not forgiving enough – not being good enough. I’d try even harder to forgive completely.
Still hurting, I searched to find an instruction manual for life.
How am I supposed to pray? How am I supposed to forgive? How do I become a good Christian?
I read book after book, trying to help myself. All the while my pain remained. I still felt not good enough.
For a while I even let my attempts to please my parents interfere with my marriage. Then I realized my loyalty belongs to my Groom.
I found the God who is always with me, and who was always with me then.
There’s so much more I could say about all of this. I’m still trying to figure out a lot of it, but mostly I’ve realized that God was in it all. He’s used every single speck of hurt to bring me to Him. He is a good God who only wants His best for us.
I don’t need to do anything. His Grace is that big.