Monday, September 27, 2010


When I was three years old, I did something wrong.  I have no idea what it was.

In the vivid mental picture of the moment, I perfectly recall my grandmother's face as she spoke, "Did you know, God has a book for every person?  Whenever you do something, God makes a red mark, or a black mark, in your book."

The assumption being, red for good.  Black for bad.

I recall my mother's face beside but behind her a bit, giving a knowing, nodding expression as if to confirm the truth.

Afterward, I went outside, and sat on my swing set.  It was a little cold.  The sun was setting.  Probably Autumn or early Spring.  Things were brown everywhere.

I was washed over in shame.

And that single moment was a rod, entering between my shoulder blades, and shoved down through my spine.  It immediately grew limbs that reached to my fingers, my feet, my brain. 

And for nearly two decades, that shame ruled my mind, my actions, my motivations, my perceptions, and my reception of the world and all the people in it.

And regardless of what I did, I knew the reds could never, ever outnumber the blacks.  And I was left in the hopelessness, acting out in 1,000 ways that I could not have articulated back to the shame.  But it ruled me.

When God called my heart out of the confusion and into something new, solid, and true, I ran into it, and didn't look back.

But still, the words I would hear about grace, forgiveness- my head knew it was true.  I knew I was wrapped up in a love that was remarkable, all-encompassing, and final.  My heart knew the God who'd embraced me and the Jesus who died for me was true, but when I heard about grace- which was often- I couldn't really grasp it.  And I knew it.  I wanted to.  I believed and prayed God would help my unbelief.  And that was very important. 

But to hear about grace from the mouth of some amazed friend who'd seen the light- I heard the words, but when my heart longed to press into them, I hit cold concrete.

Then, in the summer of 2001, I read this book.

And in the reading, that oppressive rod was extracted swiftly and with passion that was a lover saving his beloved's life.  A lifetime of painful moments and memories terrorized by a lie were called up, revealed- but I didn't feel any shame for them.  I only felt unbelievable relief, and clarity- almost drunk in the golden moment when my heart was finally free to bend and flex and feel as it was created to do.

And I was able to move about freely.  My eyes, my heart, my mind were new.  Vivid clarity in the truth that I was not ever good enough, but that Christ's sacrifice and God's love were more than enough, and I didn't need to work at being enough anymore- that I am loved because I am His, not for what I do-  Words I'd known were true, but couldn't embrace for myself.

And now it was my time to finally, finally know and experience the vast warm ocean of goodness I'd only heard about, read about, heard songs about, that I'd only seen snapshots and postcards of, as friends around me had been swimming in the real thing.


Kimberly said...

I think most Christians can relate to your story in one way or another. But I love the beauty in your words, so well written. Thanks for sharing:)

Rachel said...

This is what scares me to death about having kids. Surely something I do or say will mess them up. I get panicked about it all the time.

Danielle said...


Anonymous said...

I began reading your blog about 8 or 9 months ago after having read a post that you had written that was a link on someone else's blog. Those words then (1/27/10 post) as well as your information on photography (I, too, am a photographer!) had me hooked. This post, however, is one of your best I've had the benefit of reading and had to be spirit led. Thank you for sharing . . .