It was a short exchange, but hopefully a fruitful one. A man had written me about the hope of getting together some time. In his email he expressed some thoughts about a previous blog that gave me pause.
When you ask the question, “Are you worthy of Love?”, I had to think about it.
Until Papa wagged “her” finger (in THE SHACK) and said, “I am especially fond of that one”, I would have said that God was disappointed with me… He did die for me, so mentally, I get the gist of John 3:16. (But) I am worthy of his disappointment. (Emphasis mine.)
My response: I’m not sure how you meant, “…worthy of his disappointment.” For God to be disappointed he would have to have expectations of you that you could meet by your own strength. And yet he knows we were “helpless” in sin.
Wouldn’t it be great to know that God was never disappointed in you? Of course, he’s been disappointed in choices you’ve made and things you’ve done, just as you have been with your girls. But never disappointed in YOU as his child.
That’s the key, I think….
Then he wrote back:
Your email gave me reason to pause and think.
My comment about being “…worthy of his disappointment” comes from being raised that we are basically bad in the sight of God… From that “programming” I realize that it is my expectation to disappoint him.
Being helpless in my sin is such a different way of thinking.
While it would be GREAT to know that God was never disappointed in me, I have to get that to my heart. Mentally I can get that I am loved, not a disappointment, etc. I think that mental knowing causes obligation, where really knowing in your heart causes peace and rest and a returned affection.
So what really caused me to think was that I HAVE been disappointed in my girls as people… NOT just in the choices they made. My religious upbringing caused the expectation that you could not “sin” if you just tried hard enough. Therefore if you do, then you “meant to”…
I am this same way with the few relationships in my life that have gone sideways. I have a relationship where a church friend lied to me to get me to join him in work. Then he continued to lie, cheat, and steal from me. I had higher expectations of him, so I hold him responsible and I am VERY disappointed with him as a person. Forgiveness is very hard here. I have a similar issue with (a relative). She isn’t a nice person to me. Again, I realize that I have higher expectations of her. I don’t think of either of them as being “helpless in their sin”, but mean people who purposefully hurt me. I AM very dissapointed in them… not their actions.
Over the past several years of thinking what it means to live loved, I really do see other people differently than I used to. Maybe I just realized that I have different expectations of them. I have started to apply this to my daughters. It may need to extend further.
This is a great journey to explore for him, for his daughters, and for everyone else around him. Religion has pounded into our heads for so long that we are a constant disappointment to God. He is offended and angry with our sins and mistakes. Only Jesus’ death made us bearable to him. But none of that is true. God sees us as powerless against the brokenness of this age and the brokenness of our own souls.
The process of healing and freedom begins when we realize we are a treasure to God. Our failures don’t make us a stench in his nostrils, but the victims of a tragic fall, even more endearing because of the darkness of our struggle. That’s why he came to rescue us, not so that he could love us, but because he already did.
I know some see that as making an excuse for sin, as if God doesn’t care. Oh, he cares. He sees the destruction of sin in each of us individually and in the larger human experience. He abhors the pain and suffering we cause each other by our self-indulgent ways and the unintentional fruit of our coping mechanisms. But he also knows the only way out is to return to his love. People who are loved well by the Father will find increasing freedom from sin’s tentacles and become a reflection of his love and healing in the world toward others.
If God is disappointed in YOU, then you have to find your way out. If he was never disappointed in you, then you have a Father to run to and a process to engage that will set you increasingly free to live as the beloved son or daughter of a gracious Father, because that’s exactly who you are!
So in your listening to the breath of the Spirit today, see if you hear something like, “I know you’ve been through some rough waters and made some hurtful choices. I am disappointed for the pain it has caused you and others, but I have never been disappointed in you as my child. I’ve held you in my heart every day, waiting for you to turn and embrace my love.”