Half-empty and frustrated.
That's how I felt a few days ago. I was struggling to see the good when it seemed like everything was going wrong. My head hurt, I had a lot to do, and nothing was lining up like I had planned. It was a rough day and one that I would not like to repeat. The next day, I just felt defeated. I felt like I had let down my family, my friends, and my God. I just kept thinking, "Wow, Allison. You are such a mess." This is not necessarily a false statement but the attitude behind it was wrong. My pity-party was not at all motivated by the Gospel, Christ teaching me something, and doing better next time. It was motivated by my insecurities and my never-ending quest for the all-elusive perfection.
I was right, I am such a mess. However, I was just seeing the mess and not the beautiful mess that I am and that you are. We are a crazy mess but God chose our mess before we existed, created our mess, and intends to redeem us and perfect us in our mess through the blood of His son.
Once I realized that my thoughts and my attitude was heading in the wrong direction, I decided that I needed some me and Jesus time. I retreated to my room with my iPod, my Bible, and my journal. My devotion for the day was Psalm 103 and it rocked my heart, my attitude, and my outlook.
"Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses
his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord's love is with those who fear him;
and his righteousness with their children's children -
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding
who obey his word.
Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, O my soul."
(Psalm 103; NIV)
After I read this and meditated on it a few minutes, all of my feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and bitterness just melted away.
Here's what I wrote in my journal after I read this:
"There are moments, days, times (like right this moment) when praising the Lord is something we don't "feel like" doing because we feel so inadequate and unworthy to come into His presence and praise Him. Whether we feel like it or not, we ought to praise Him. In those moments, we need to command our hearts and souls (and sometimes tell our brain to shut-up) to praise Him. Why? Because He forgives our sins (past, present, future), He heals us, He redeems us from the pit, He crown us with love and compassion, He is righteousness and justice, He is compassionate and gracious, He is slow to anger, He is abounding in love, He does not treat us as our sins deserve, He has removed our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west, He remembers we are just dust, His loves goes on from everlasting to everlasting, and He rules over heaven and earth.
Praise the Lord, O my soul."
As I was writing this down, I just felt overwhelmed with all the love and graciousness that God has given to us freely even when we mess up. Then a question popped in my head: How can God so freely and abundantly give us all of those things that are in the Psalm and all throughout Scripture knowing that we will mess up, throw it away, stomp on it, and throw a tantrum and demand something else?
Because He is all of those things.
The reason why God can give us love, grace, compassion, mercy, healing, every good and perfect thing, redemption, righteousness, justice, strength, and hope is because HE IS love, grace, compassion, mercy, healing, every good and perfect thing, redemption, righteousness, justice, strength, and hope. Every time He shares His love with us or forgives us, He reveals to us His character and He shows us His heart. Every single time He gives us hope and strength, He is vulnerable before us. And how do we respond? We close ourselves off because we feel like we're not good enough to be in His presence.
News flash: WE'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH. We never have been and we never will. Not on our own, at least. That's why God sent His Son to die for our sins. We couldn't make the atonement for ourselves to be "clean enough" to enter the Holy of Holies. He had to send an offering for us to be our atonement and to "cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Christ came and died to cleanse us, to heal us, and perfect us through His blood. He also came so that we may have intimacy with Him. Every time God shows us His love, He is inviting us to come closer to Him because He's already forgiven us and He loves us infinitely more than we can understand. He wants us to draw closer to Him so we can get to know Him and His ways. It may seem weird or uncomfortable at first, but it's okay.
That discomfort you're feeling is Him changing your heart to look more like His. That weirdness or awkwardness will eventually go away because the closer you get to Him, the deeper and deeper you'll fall in love with the Creator of the Universe. You'll long for the day when your earthly body is no longer keeping you from enjoying eternal, intimate fellowship with Him.
He is romancing you and beckoning you to come closer, to put your hand in His side, and know how much He loves you - imperfections, quirks, and all. He longs for you to know Him as well as He knows you. Don't close yourself off. Be vulnerable before Him.
On my own, my days are half-empty, frustrating messes but in the presence of Jehovah, my days are filled with peace that indescribable, hope that's all-surpassing, and full of the greatest love I've ever know. In my sinful, humanness, a negative outlook is all that I have. Resting in the love and grace of Jesus Christ, I can see the positive in all the junk and I can know that there's a reason that all of this happened/is happening.
Without Him, we are nothing. Without Him, we are sinful creatures in desperate need of a Savior. But because HE IS love, grace, compassion, mercy, healing, every good and perfect thing, redemption, righteousness, justice, strength, and hope, we don't ever have to know a day without Him.
Praise the Lord, O my soul.
Be still, my heart, when I need reminding that resting in Christ is where my salvation comes.
Run wild, my heart, when God restores my soul and I'm seeing Him move in great and mighty ways.
Jump up and down, my heart, when I can't contain the absolute joy of knowing Him and His goodness and grace.
Love Him always, my heart, because without Him, I am nothing.
I am currently a teacher and life-long student of Scripture learning more about life and Jesus's marvelous love and boundless grace.