It has been just over a year since I walked into NOLA Church for the first time, and I cannot believe how different my life and point of view are now.
I have friends who love me without judgment, and I’ve built relationships with people who know everything about me – my deepest regrets and fears and joys – and love me in spite of those imperfections.
My church isn’t perfect. It is filled with flawed people who are searching for acceptance, seeking to have their questions answered. We have issues, but I like that. Jesus spent time with people who needed Him, and we need Him. I need Him.
I’ve discovered God’s immeasurable grace and unconditional forgiveness, and I have a relationship with Him that I didn’t realize that someone like me – so flawed and imperfect and horrible – could ever have.
My life is different. I’m different.
I remember writing a post about my feelings on church, the reasons that I was skeptical about going and the reasons that it just wasn’t for me. I remember wishing that I could have faith in someone that I couldn’t see, and I remember being terrified of being hurt by the church again.
I needed peace and assurance that everything would be okay, but I didn’t find that. Instead I faced gossip, judgment and condescension. The meanest, most judgmental people I knew were from the church, and I decided that if that’s what church was about, I didn’t want any part of it.
You can read the whole post here.
Now I love Jesus. Sometimes people find my love for Him obnoxious, but I’m so thankful that I can’t imagine not talking about it. It defines so much of who I am now, and I don’t want that to change.
Last week I wrote a post that some of you didn’t like. Someone called me preachy, and another person called me an idiot. Someone else called me naive.
I get it. Some people think I’m ridiculous or full of crap for talking about Jesus here. I understand that you don’t all love Him or believe in Him or have faith in Him, but it’s who I am now. I still have a lot of other loves and interests, but He’s part of me now. I’m happier and more at peace than I’ve ever been so it’s not likely to change anytime soon.
I didn’t write about forgiveness recently because I was trying to preach to anyone; I wrote it because I’ve been working through my feelings on forgiveness lately. As I look back at my past, I’m forced to think about things that I’ve tried to forget for years.
In my late teens and early 20’s, I was an insecure, suicidal, dishonest person who desperately wanted to feel loved and accepted. I didn’t think it was possible that I could forgive those who hurt me, and I didn’t care who I hurt because I was in so much pain. I lived crippled by that pain for years, and now I’m free from it.
It’s by God’s grace that I’m not dead. It’s because of His love that I get to live in freedom now. I’m loved. I’m forgiven. I’m His. End of story. Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s just the beginning…