The following is a short article I wrote primarily for myself, but ended up getting published in the Monthly Messenger. Reprinted here by permission of the MM editor, Amy Simonson.
The past several months I’ve been meeting with my pastor each Saturday morning to discuss various issues, questions, and what it means to think rationally as a Christian. One of the more curious personal revelations is that I have no concept of “self” outside of what I do, and more specifically, how well I do it. Not only does this lead to performance-based Christianity (not really Christianity at all!), but it leaves me incapable of understanding how God could love me, even as I fail. Again. And then again.
I rarely exercise as I should, but walking comes naturally enough when I’m mulling over especially troublesome issues. Usually it’s stress from work, but one night was more about my relationship with God. Recent sermons at Church have been about our identity in Christ; I even did artwork for the series, but it’s a concept I really struggle to “see.” After a mile or two on some of the walking paths and streets around my apartment, it’s something I was contemplating heavily again. Who am I? Stripped of everything, why would God care, much less love me?
Well…I create things. As an artist, that’s a rather easy statement to make, but it applies to all of us – in our own ways, we create things, be they sculptures, or words, or music, or hospitality. I know I can remember some of the most insignificant pieces I’ve done, even from 15 years ago, still living clearly in my mind. What if a work of art, one of my creations, were molested, defaced by vandals? What would I feel? Would I treat it with disdain, revulsion, disgust?
Or would I sit there, and cry…
Work sleepless nights to slowly clean, carefully rebuild, gently restore…
I’ve had to pause several times just writing this, overwhelmed by tears, baffled by God. Gentleness was never something I associated with His character – certainly not His reaction to our fallen nature. But it’s slowly dawning on me that perhaps God wants to heal our broken lives not with brutality, but with care. I write as one not fully grasping yet, sussing out the truth, desperately praying I can be taught these inexpressible whispers from the One who made me.