There's an overwhelming sense of freedom in acknowledging that you deserve nothing.
It was a few days ago when I said that to myself and realized what an alarming thought it was. Since when do people operate that way? As if they have no rights?
Truth is, we don't. We've been raised on this principle of fairness. If things are fair, we get what we deserve. Especially here in American culture--so many of our beliefs are grounded on our rights and what we're owed and who owes it to us. And I'm not at all saying that's not important stuff. What I do know is that if life was fair, I'd be dead.
Listen. I'm not a great person. I'm not even a good person. It sounds like obligatory lip service to say that on my little space of the internet where you see pretty pictures of me and the list of happy things I get to do. I'm not complaining--those things you see overwhelm me sometimes, like wow I've had some cool experiences and amazing opportunities thrown my way. But they only awe me because every once in awhile I have the decency to back up and realize there is absolutely zero percent of me that deserves them.
I'm getting ahead of myself. I don't deserve them because I don't deserve anything. I'm a sinner. I don't mean "sometimes I get mad at my siblings." I am sinful. I have bad thoughts and I do things even though I know they're wrong and I struggle to listen to God and I fight to have my own way and I'd be ashamed if people knew some things about me and sometimes I'm insensitive or apathetic and I'm really frighteningly selfish. I'm broken and I am desperate.
I didn't fully realize my desperation or my brokenness until the past year (probably still don't). I'm not sure you really recognize your need to be mended until you are brought face-to-face with how dirty and unwhole you are. And that in and of itself seems like a catch-22 because the more you acknowledge your brokenness, the more you know how you really are completely unworthy of being saved from it.
And that's where it comes back to rights, I suppose, or the fact that I really don't have any. And through a thought process I can't quite explain, some part of me deep inside felt more at peace in that realization than I had a very (very) long time. It doesn't make sense that giving up rights to anything and everything would be a good thing. Saying that there's nothing I deserve? That's just...too dangerous, right?
Everything in life is dangerous, it seems to me. But you see, I've calculated the risk and as far as I can tell it's a lot safer to surrender my rights than to hold onto them. To turn over control to something bigger than myself because I'm too broken myself to do it alone. I've tried for months and months and months to fix myself and not once has it worked until I said, "I'm done, Jesus, I can't do it, I'm a failure and a screw-up and I don't know why you love that kind of thing and I know you don't owe me anything but I need you." I had a really bad attitude from thinking God owed me something. And when something clicked and I realized he didn't, I was able to experience this deep contentment because wow oh wow look how much he has given me even though there's no part of me that deserves it.
What am I even talking about anymore.
A week or two ago I went to a NEEDTOBREATHE concert and was expecting...a concert. I was not expecting a guest speaker that had me in tears from beginning to end. I've tried to explain to a couple people since then what exactly was said that made me so emotional, but honestly what that guy talked about--it was just the gospel, plain and simple. Jesus came to save wretched, broken, angry, undeserving people by taking all of their wretchedness, brokenness, and anger on himself. He took my crap--even the crap I've blamed him wrongly for--and loved me through it all. I hope the gospel never stops making me cry.
Did something change? Not really, I suppose. God certainly didn't--he is constant and has been waiting for me all along. Myself, then? Possibly--maybe only time will tell. And if I have, it is certainly not of my own accord, because I have proved my own incompetence to myself again and again. But...Jesus. For some incomprehensible reason, he overwhelmed me with the thing I deserve the least: grace. And besides that, besides giving me the opportunity to be alive rather than my well-deserved death, he gave me love. He loves me so much! I can't get over that. When even that is so much more than I deserve, how could I want anything else?
I went to the Christian service/group/thing on campus last week and they played the single song that can make me cry without fail: "Everything" by Lifehouse. You may be familiar with the skit sometimes done to this song--I was part of it at camp over a year ago and it remains one of the most...hm...how do I describe this. One of the most powerful experiences I've ever had, and also one most filled with the Holy Spirit working much more than any of us in the skit were (and trust me that's a lot, because I was shaking uncontrollably afterwards). Ever since then I can't hear that song without getting emotional, not just because I played a girl in a skit, but because the girl I played in that skit was me. Me me me, pursued relentlessly by a God who is pulling me towards him even when I'm distracted by any number of things or blatantly ignoring him, by a God who is willing to fight for me so I don't have to. (If you want to watch the skit we did, it's here. The representations that tear me away from Jesus are, in order, lust, money, alcohol, vanity, and death. Don't cry too much.)
I don't have an epic point to make here. It's really just a confession, I suppose, of how self-absorbed I am to think I'm owed something from the God of the universe. And some way, somehow, he sees that uncleanness deep inside the ugly corners of my heart and says, "You don't deserve this, Jenn, but I'm going to give it to you anyway." And he gives me life. His life. Saturated in his love and his desire to lavish his presence upon me. Why would I want to focus on anything besides that? How can I not be satisfied?
how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?So. That's all. Little old terrible sinful undeserving me is loved by a beautiful, perfect, powerful, big, crazy-good, forgiving, loving Savior. No big deal.
would you tell me how could it be any better than this?
(Hint: sarcasm employed. It's a really big deal.)