So, it’s been so long since I’ve written anything. I’ve just been so uninspired and when I have been getting spurts of inspiration, I would start writing something and then it would get so emotional and intense. I would lose all emotional energy to write anything more and would just end up throwing those drafts in the “maybe later” pile.
But excuses aside, I’m here with a series of posts I’m going to be doing about the 21 Things I’ve Learned in 21 Years. In October I’ll be turning 21 and I thought it would be a good idea to start now by listing all the big things that I’ve learned in the crazy 21 years of my life. I think my life has been an exciting mess thus far full of adventure and lot’s of self-discovery moments and philosophical thoughts.
But in this first part, I’ll be discussing the foundations on which I’ve built my life and what I believe at my core in terms of the God, the Gospel, and loving people. I really think our main goal on earth is to love people and that doesn’t mean being all up in peoples’ faces forcing on them the love of Christ, but realizing sometimes the bold and courageous thing to do is being still, quiet, and gentle. And it really can be challenging. In a world that loves shouting and being heard, I want to share with people the power of a quiet voice, a quiet mind, and a quiet love.
So, here are the first two lessons I’ve learned:
1) The Gospel is an emotional experience. Upon discovering this for myself, I was so excited and passionate about it. I was thinking to myself one day during my quiet time with God. I had been reading through the book of Acts, and had just read about Paul’s time in Athens and that’s when it hit me. The Athenians’ sneering reaction to Paul was a heart issue as was it a knowledge one. They used too much of their heads to understand something that cannot be understood and so they ruled it out as illogical and ridiculous.
The Gospel doesn’t make sense. Not one bit. But that’s what makes it so powerful. That’s what makes God’s love so much more than ordinary. It was revealed to us as extraordinary and relentless. The love He showed us by sending His one and only Son to give the ultimate sacrifice of His death on the cross is the greatest representation of love we know. The greatest sacrifice anyone can give is their death for someone else’s life. And to think the God of the universe who made us in His likeness and who was betrayed by His own creation and broke His heart, would still fight for us! The only thing you need to understand, is that He didn’t have too. He didn’t have to give His life for us. He was not obligated to do so and I wouldn’t blame Him if He had obliterated the entire world to start over.
When I think of the evil and sinful nature of us humans, I can see the hurt in God’s eyes. I can see His heart breaking and the disappointment. The pictures I get and the story I see is this:
I see God at his work bench building a creation, sculpting a human with detail, love, and care. I see His excitement and love for what He has made. And the final touch was the breath of life He breathed into that sculpture. The creation could now breathe, move, think, talk, love, and create. And for a while He delighted in it and the creation loved Him back. But then because of the freedom that God gave to His creation, the creation started to argue with Him, insult Him, and end up turning its back on Him to live a life without Him. I see God watching as His beloved creation stomps away in anger and defiance and I feel His heart. It is the worst feeling ever; to not be loved by what you love so much.
And instead of ultimately wiping out his creation, He decided to do the one and only thing left to do, that would appease his anger and give Him the ultimate glory: He let His Son die for us to take on the sin of the world and upon rising from the dead giving us the gift of life eternal with Him. And this is ridiculously wonderful news! It makes no sense that He would do that and that the Ultimate Being would love us so much as to give us a second chance when He has all the power and sovereignty to wipe us out without another thought. And we deserve that. We are not deserving of the grace He’s shown us. And until you feel the weight of these truths, the Gospel will continue to mean very little to you. You will constantly be asking questions in a state of confusion only to be answered by a God who’s softly saying to you, “Be still.”
2) Being shown this kind of grace and love from God, I see everyone in a different light. Now, most of my friends know that I just dread human beings as a whole. Like I love everyone and I enjoy the company of individuals and small groups, but God only knows, I use an enormous amount of energy around them. And that’s because I’m an introvert and have social anxiety. But people are actually great! And I find them so fascinating and full of mystery. Even the most shallow of people have a depth to them that only God knows about and possibly themselves as well. And I’m left to constantly wonder “why they are the way they are?”. I actually ask this of the evil characters as well. The people on the news kidnapping, raping, killing, etc. and the people in tv shows or movies who do such things or even the characters who do evil but seek also redemption. I call the latter, the “misunderstood characters”
Now don’t misunderstand me when I say that I’m curious about such people. They’re actions are in no way justified and are plainly and simply evil. I could never understand the mindset of a psychotic killer or anyone like that. I hesitate to even try. But when I think about even the most evil of people, I think about forgiveness and the truth that even they are not beyond God’s forgiveness and love. No matter how unlikely the case, it’s possible.
I’m going to be honest and tell you that this actually sends a shiver down my spine because it’s just so crazy and makes me uncomfortable to think about. But I don’t know why. In any case, I’m forced to think about all of us not being deserving of God’s grace and forgiveness, much less love. Let me repeat that. We are all not deserving of God’s grace, forgiveness, and love. And you may have heard before how God measures peoples’ sins and how we do. And how God only sees all sin as just that: sin. Well, thinking that way transforms the way you see people. Truthfully, knowing the grace that set me free is also just as available to them, is a crazy thought to me.
It’s a crazy awesome thought! …Scary but awesome! Ahhh! And I can’t tell you how much this has transformed my life and how many people I view differently now. Awkwardly enough, I have a strip of thumbnail pictures of all the “misunderstood characters” on my inpiration board in my room. It’s awkward because they are all male. I don’t know why, but more often than not, all the misunderstood characters in shows and movies are male. To me, “misunderstood characters” represent most clearly the struggle of us humans. They represent the fight between good and evil. They are us at our core.
I have some characters on that strip of paper that would quite frankly piss off some die-hard fans and would make them think I’m psycho. But it’s all about grace. That’s my answer. And just because you are able to forgive someone and show them grace doesn’t mean what they did was right or justifiable. Now, they are just characters. I know. But I like to apply what I learn in real life to story and movie characters as well and vice versa. It helps me not to be in the mindset that some can receive grace while others cannot, in this case. And in thinking like this, I am more curious about their lives and their past and why they are the way they are. This stems from my own life and personal discovery when I had to look back into my past to piece together why I am the way I am. And for these “misunderstood characters”, antagonists, and protagonists, their stories, life decisions, and circumstances make up who they are. The strength or weakness of one’s conscience also plays a huge part as well. A series of bad decisions creates for a weak conscience which leads to a path of destruction. And some decisions shape you more than you realize sometimes for the better or for the worse.
All that said, instead of hastily deciding I hate a character or dislike someone in real life, I take my time to find out why they are the way they are. And in so doing, it in no way justifies them, but rather allows me to see them the way God sees them and love them the way He loves them. It is truly freeing.