Growing up in a very strict Christian home was great. Not the descriptor you were expecting huh? Really, it was. Even though I totally rebelled, I still was able to stay out of major (life changing) trouble because of the lessons that I learned. I learned respect, I learned morals, I learned the “fear of the Lord”. Granted, I didn’t follow Jesus until I was out on my own, but those lessons gave me an excellent foundation. What it didn’t teach me though, was grace. I learned to judge people. I learned that following Jesus was about what I didn’t do – I didn’t have sex, I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke, I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t listen to secular music, I didn’t swear. When I’d meet Christians who did any of those… I deemed them to be lukewarm Christians at best. I was a judgmental bitch.
The past two years has been spent learning to unlearn those negative behaviors, learning what it REALLY means to follow Jesus, and pursuing a life of grace – for others and for myself. Let’s just say, it’s been a super challenging two years. Life, theology, morals… none of it is black and white. That’s the opposite of what I was taught. I’m learning that everything is in some shade of grey. What I knew about Christianity growing up is not the same as what I know now. What I knew about Christianity 3 years ago, is not the same as what I know now. So what do I know now? Well, as I said, Christianity isn’t about not sinning. Turns out it’s about following Jesus. Someone explained it so beautifully and simply to me that it made being a Christian actually joyful again – she said it’s simply waking up in the morning, asking Jesus what He’s up to and then doing that with Him as you go about your day. Christianity can be freeing. One of the things Jesus is really into is grace. So, as a follower of His, I need to be into grace. This means that I don’t have to beat myself up when I screw up. This means that I no longer feel burdened to judge others so I can better “pray for them” (gossip). This means that I don’t need to carry around shame. This means that I can come to my Father and talk to Him about anything and everything anytime and everywhere. This means that those Christians who judge me and the way I live simply don’t know about the beauty of grace. It does not mean that I can go around and knock over a convenience store and then ask for grace. It does not give me the freedom to sin. It simply gives me the freedom to get over it when I do.