Sunday, October 11, 2015

My God

My God sent his only son to die a horrific, painful death several thousand years ago on a cross in order for me to have life here on this earth in the twenty-first century. That is powerful, and amazing, and humbling, and gruesome all at the same time.

All My God asks is that I live my life according to HIS have faith in him and the plans he has laid out for me. It sounds so simple, yet I know I have greatly failed him. But, thanks to HIS son, there's forgiveness made available to me in the form of grace with each new day.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."
My God's son hanging in the St. Bernadette Grotto in Amelia, OH

Although I love my Catholic faith, my God doesn't care if I'm Catholic or Protestant. It's not about religion, it's about relationship with him. My God doesn't care what church I worship. He's just thankful I go to church and bring my family with me. My God doesn't care where I pray or how I do it. He just welcomes me each time I take a knee at the side of my bed, or in a pew at my church, or even when I'm too tired to do either and just lay in my bed with my eyes closed in prayerful meditation. He doesn't ask much of me - only that I live life according to his will. Why do I find that so hard to do?

My God is a patient God. He puts up with me, and loves me despite my many imperfections. He knows the work I still have to do, and he does his best to quietly lay that on my heart. He knows I struggle with finding joy each day. He knows I struggle with exercising patience and the peace of mind that surpasses understanding. He knows I struggle with envy and jealousy. He knows I struggle, and that I need him. And, I know I struggle, and I'm not too proud to admit that I need him.

Balancing good versus evil in our lives is real, and it's amazing to me how My God always prevails - if I just let him. This fact finally dawned on me when I attended a Christ Renews His Parish weekend at my church in 2013. I had two young, busy boys at home. My husband was in the midst of a career crisis. My marriage was struggling, as was my faith. And, I missed my mom. I was broken, and the devil knew it. In fact, I think for a period of time he had set up shop right in the middle of my living room.

During times of distress, the devil grabs hold of us and pulls us into his web of lies. Even though I knew I was living joyless, and I prayed about it, I continued to do and feel as the devil wanted me to do and feel, versus giving it completely up to My God. I knew who I wanted to be, but I just couldn’t be that person. Romans 7:15-17 “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. Now, if I do what I do not want, I concur that the law is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but the sin that dwells in me.”

I was brought to my knees that weekend in 2013, and my faith walk has never been the same. Yes, I still struggle with the forces of good and evil in my life. In fact, each and every day I struggle to be better than I was the day before. Some days I'm better at it than others, and sometimes those days drag into weeks, and even months, of me not being so great. But, the difference today is I’m more aware of when I need to pull myself back up and out of my own way. I recognize the conflicts building in my heart. I feel the devil pulling at my soul. And, when these feelings in my inner being arise, I ask My God for his help. I pray more, and read my Bible more. Sometimes, I have to make a valiant effort to put myself in that better place. And, My God is always there to welcome me. Together, we get through it!

I feel I can relate most to Peter in the Bible. I think he must have struggled back in his time just like I do today. Like Peter, I pray every day for the strength to be a better version of myself. Like Peter, I'm a far cry from perfect. Like Peter, I'm a broken sinner. Thank goodness for reconciliation! It is at constant work in my life, and I thank God for the awareness to make things right. I know I'm not perfect, but in My God's eyes I am. How crazy is that?!

Peter’s story, just like mine, is not one of failure; it is one of grace and forgiveness. Peter disowned Jesus on more than one occasion. He was lazy and inconsistent in his faith at times. He grew tired and weary. Yet, he never stopped fighting against the wicked ways of the devil. He failed and picked himself up time and time again, and God accepted him time and time again. Peter went on to become a great leader in the early church. I have discovered that Peter's story is a lot like my story: that though I may fail God, myself and the ones I love, My God truly knows my heart, my intentions and my weaknesses, and he loves me anyway. His grace gives me strength to go on with my life despite my imperfections and failures, no matter how large they may seem. And, that same grace lets me forgive myself for my defects and shortcomings. It relieves me of the crushing burden of trying to be perfect in this life. My God is pretty AWESOME!

Thank you, God, for accepting me just as I am. May the heart that is in you be within me, so that I may accept others as they are, and live my life out with a heart of peace, joy, love and forgiveness.  Amen.