Growing up, I was such a good little rule follower. I craved the approval that came from following the guidelines and checking off the boxes. I mostly did that because I liked the results of those efforts. I rarely got into trouble, I got good grades and I was usually the teacher’s pet. Surely I’m not the only one.
Please don’t take that to mean I was a saint or something. I was just really sneaky when I did the naughty stuff. Somehow the consequences for those sneaky actions always managed to catch up with me anyway. And I thought I was so smart. Heh.
I carried all of that good little girl self into my relationship with Jesus, too. I went to church without complaint, I even went off to a Bible college to get my Bachelor’s degree. Willingly. Happily. And I wasn’t even majoring in education or missions.
I carried that same self straight into my adult life as well. I served in various ministries in church, participated in service opportunities, and went to Bible studies and filled in all the blanks for Kay Arthur and Beth Moore. And I never asked why. Because I knew. That’s what good Christian women do. We’re submissive. We don’t rock the boat. We do our homework.
But here’s the thing. If I’m being truthful, it was all for me. The whole little good girl thing that kept me safe and made me feel secure and worthy was all for me.
Of course, I don’t think I really would have been able to tell you that even 7 or 8 years ago. I was so blind to doing what was “right” that I never stopped to consider why I did those things. And goodness knows what I thought of the people who didn’t do all of those right things. Judgy much? I saw the specks in their eyes and was oblivious to the beam in my own. Oh yes. I most definitely had one.
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I trusted Jesus to be my Savior at a very young age. And I in no way doubt the authenticity of the beginning of my relationship with Him. But I got tangled up in the technicalities over the years, rather than reveling in the grace. I saw it as a list of rules rather than an invitation for relationship and a gateway to true freedom.
These days I find myself pulling back from absolutes like they’re a hot skillet. I skim right past the “how to’s” because the formula doesn’t fit my life. Instead, I seek out the why’s. I actually want to know and understand the things I study in my Bible rather than just fill in the blanks in a workbook. I grinned with glee when I saw that the most recent sermon series at my church was debunking non-biblical Christian cliches.
You see, I’m becoming something of a non-conformist. It’s a label I would have never dreamed of giving myself 10 years ago. And I’ve never been filled with more joy.
I’ve learned a whole lot more about God since I started asking why. I’ve found that there is extravagant grace when I have a meltdown over actually finding the answer I was searching out because it means great sacrifice on my part. I’ve discovered that a relationship with God requires far more than checking off the list of assignments.
Yes…He’s my teacher, but He’s also my Daddy. I need more than His approval, because I’m never going to be good enough to earn that. I need His grace, restoration and love.
Little by little, day by day, I’m learning to find something to learn, not something to prove.