Posts Tagged ‘cross’

There are times when I feel a little lost. I look back and wonder how on earth I have come to be in that particular place, at that particular time. How on earth did I end up holding this particular responsibility? Did I really say that I love doing x?

It does has its benefits. It means I can be a bit more vague when it comes to making decisions. If I’m not sure who I am it means that I don’t have a set standard of ethics to frame my choices. It means that I can sit back and let others do the hard work and be responsible. It means that I can love my green trousers one day and hate them the next.

Sometimes this can be classed as growth. The idea that you can look back with the benefit of hindsight and ask yourself “really?” Changing is not a bad thing. Especially when it is being transformed into the image of Christ.

But Christians talk a lot about identity. As forgiven people, we find our identity in Christ. We are no longer characterised by sin or the things we have done, but rather by what Jesus has done for us. We are new people. Such good news.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Brilliant. This means that I don’t have to worry about the old labels I had for myself. Self-harmer. Crazy person. Loner.

So why do I? Why did I tell someone yesterday that I considered myself to be mentally unstable at times? Or, even worse, why did I worry that they thought that I was? Do I still see myself as a self-harmer, or someone redeemed by grace?

I wonder whether these labels are easier to handle than facing up to the reality. The reality that I have become a new person, and that I do have choices to make about how to live my life, because that is what grown up people do. I think decisions are difficult sometimes.

There is also the fact that, by considering myself to be a self-harmer, it means that I am allowing myself the possibility of relapse. If I really felt I needed to. Maybe. When desperate. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Again, there are positive aspects to this. It means that I am more likely to seek the help I need from friends and others. It means that I am constantly relying on God for my strength not to cut myself. And it means that I don’t take my recovery for granted.

But to what extent will I be able to recover fully if I stay like this? Does it mean that I am defined by the bad things and the relapses rather than the redemption of the Cross and God’s love for me? How do I think God sees me?

Important questions from a slightly panicked heart.

I choose Christ. I choose to be defined by Him and not by a pair of scissors.

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.’  (Zephaniah 3:17)

And this is so true.

 

Shame

Posted: April 2, 2013 in A little about me, Hope
Tags: , , , , , ,

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Sometimes, I want to hide everything. I worry so much about what people will think of me when they find out what I’ve done to myself. People either don’t understand at all or, even worse, want to help. “why don’t you just think happy thoughts?” Or they think it is something they have said or done – and often it is.

I think though, that that is only part of the story. I think there is part of me that has been ashamed of what I’ve done. How much I’ve worried people. How something that just seems so wrong can make me feel better.

So I worry about telling people who I really am. I think about the label “self-harmer” that I’m happy to employ myself but I don’t want others to use. I don’t want people to know about the battles that rage inside of me.

But actually, this is so wrong. Because there is nothing that I haven’t already brought to the cross of Christ. God made me to be the person I am warts, thunder thighs, self-harm and all. That doesn’t mean he is happy for me to hurt myself, or not to be the person he has made me to be and all that. But it does mean I can be free of shame.

And also, there is nothing that I have ever done or will ever do that is so bad that it can’t be dealt with by Christ on the cross. And the same goes for everyone. Yes, I have to turn to Christ. But I do because he is the only one who can help.

The Gospel shines its light into even the darkest places. And that means I have nothing to be ashamed of.

Yesterday I had to write a difficult letter to someone. I had to write to ask them to be mature in a specific situation. To ask them to not continue to make things worse instead of better and to get over an event from the past so that we could grow into the future. It was difficult to write.

I decided to include the words “As a Christian, I believe that God shines a light into the darkest places and even the most horrible situations can be redeemed. I believe in grace that means we don’t need to be stuck in vicious cycles of despair, and in hope that the future can be better.”

In years gone by, I don’t think that would be how I would have summed up the Gospel. I would have talked about Jesus, the cross and how he died to set us free from the things we had done wrong. I would have talked about the need for us to make our own decision as to whether to follow him or not, and that is what makes someone a Christian or not.

But experience is starting to tell me that although those parts are obviously there, that the Gospel (literally good news) is far bigger and better than we can ever imagine. Reconciliation. Hope. Grace (and yes, have a read of Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing about Grace – I did borrow the cycles of grace from him!) Its not just the times that we forgot to say please or said a bad word. As I grow older, I see more of the good that God is doing even in the places where we expect nothing. God is bigger. The cross itself means nothing without the knowledge that Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day. Sunday is coming.

So, I don’t know whether those words will help or not. But it certainly has been helping me.

Where do we put our trust?

Someone reminded me recently that I am actually a relatively capable person and that there are a lot of things that other people find quite difficult that I seem just to be able to do somehow. Despite everything, I got good grades in school, played musical instruments to a high standard, passed my driving test first time, learned to bake and make nice food, did sport a bit… You name it, I was there.

When I met Jesus, I learned that the world no longer revolved around me and what I can do, but around him and what he has done for us on the Cross and in the Resurrection. “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

Jesus died on the cross for my sins. For every time that I fail to honour God in my thoughts, my words, or my actions. For every time I turn away from him. This changed things completely. Things were no longer about me.

But then every so often, I find the old patterns creeping back in. “I just need to do this, and then people will like me…” or “If I do really well in this course, then I will be really happy”… or “I will only be pleased if I get more than 90%”. Sometimes, I do achieve these seemingly impossible feats. Sometimes I don’t.

Every time that I do though, it is another reminder that I have a choice. I can either choose to rely on myself, my own strengths and abilities, or on God. And his are way better quite frankly.

It’s not about not doing well or not trying to glorify God through my actions, but rather things not being about me. Knowing that all that I can do is a gift from God. And that I need to trust him more and more. He has a plan for my life, so I need to stop getting in the way of that.

It starts being about the decisions I make. How will I spend my time? What about my money? Do these simple things reflect my trust in my loving Creator, or an attempt to glorify myself? Do I keep thinking about scissors and ways to hurt or ways I can know God more?

These are difficult questions. But I want to grow in my journey with Christ more and more each day, so I’m going to keep asking them of myself. Maybe you should think about it too, to keep me company, or because God is laying it on your heart too…