2014 was quite a significant year. There was extreme hurt (the loss of my mom to cancer) and extreme joy (drawing exponentially closer to God than I’ve ever been led to believe was possible). As I look back, not only on the past year, but all the years, I’m constantly surprised to see God was there all along, even in the times I thought I was furthest from him.
God has transformed all the events of my life that I thought were mistakes into something beautiful. Moments and situations that I hated, I now only look back on with reverent awe at how God worked and how he changed me for the better. It’s like I retroactively cherish having lived my life with God (if that makes any sense). The difference is that I’m now seeing through new eyes and with a new heart.
Seeing how God has worked all along through my past gives me real hope for the future, and not just wishful thinking type hope. I don’t tend to think, “it’s been bad but will hopefully get better.” Instead I tend to think, “it’s been good, so I can have hope that it will continue to be.” I also have this kind of hope as I come across others in my everyday life. Even if I don’t have the abilities (yet) to reach out to some of them, I can almost “see” God with them and working for their good.
Before I began truly knowing God, I had a very distorted image of a wrathful being in the sky just waiting to strike someone dead who got too out of line. This was a very depressing way to live. Though I wouldn’t have worded it quite like this then, my heart use to be so full of hate. I hated those I was taught to hate who weren’t upholding God’s mandates as defined by those same “teachers.”
I mainly write this because this love relationship with God is something that I couldn’t even conceive of giving up because God has transformed me and has been removing hatefulness from my heart. Knowing a bit more about who God really is, I now live in abundant freedom. If I’m viewed by others as wrong, I really don’t want to be their version of right. If I’m viewed as being delusional for believing in God this way, it’s a delusion that I gladly endure because it has emptied the hatred I use to harbor for too many of God’s children. We often marginalize, reject, and despise our own siblings in Jesus for not conforming to our ideals instead of loving them where they’re at and letting God work in their lives.
If I had to make one resolution this year, it would be to stand up more for those who are so often made to believe they are worthless by society, and even, especially, by religion—to stand up for the marginalized like Jesus did. I want to be the kind of person that can accept with open arms anyone who is hurting and rejected and stand with them to share the pain of being hated. I’m learning this goes far beyond just giving soothing words, holding up a sign, or debating. This relies first and foremost on having an open, loving heart.
God, I know it’s a dangerous thing to ask, but give me the kind of courage to love others like that….no matter the cost.