Beautiful, Unmerited Grace

Lesson: Understanding the Story of Failure

I’m going to be forthcoming for once. For the past two and half years, I’ve ended each day with incredibly deeply rooted regrets. I’ve ended every day upset with myself, wondering why I didn’t do more, why I haven’t performed better, why I just can’t get it right. I’ve loved myself under the premise and with the understanding that God loves me. But I’ve hated myself with immeasurable hate even more. All of my flaws, failures, slipups, pains, weaknesses, emptiness, brokenness. I’ve stretched myself thin.

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I can’t remember the last time I had a good year. I was honestly hoping and praying that 2017 would be something new, but it has been the most frightening year of all thus far. I have countless bad memories spanning over the past 20 years of my life, but one thing I can say truthfully is that I’ve never been one to throw in the towel. Nothing in my life has come easily, but I’ve always fought on.

In spite of what I just said, this will probably be the only slightly forthcoming part of this post. This week I gave up. For the first time in my life since I was that young seven-year-old kid trying to commit suicide because my problems had simply become too much to bear—I gave up. Years and years of nonstop fighting have just led to countless people telling me over and over that I have not, cannot, or will not achieve. This week, I didn’t want to hear anyone remind me of my failures. I didn’t want to hear anyone tell me that I need to do more. I didn’t want to hear anyone criticize or even constructively critique my life. I didn’t want to push my thoughts to the back of my mind and deal with the daily things that demand my attention—some of which have done so for years. I didn’t want to be strong anymore. I am exhausted. Utterly exhausted. And fed up.

I put off so many important things this week—I just couldn’t find the strength for them. I was early to one of my classes and left before it started because I couldn’t bear. I was always the kid with the great faith. Always everyone else’s pillar. Always silently watching the lives and listening to the words of so many people in order to feed myself wisdom—wisdom that was such a fulfilling meal to so many others. I don’t know what a break feels like. I don’t know what relief means. I’ve overcompensated with extreme, excessive goal-chasing. If I can’t get anything I want out of life, I’ll at least pursue the one thing that matters (God and his gospel), until I see a significant impact made on this world and my time is up.

I won’t weary you all with more details. I know I haven’t been as “forthcoming” as I said I’d be. If I’m going to leave you with anything encouraging, I have to say that I am simply amazed that there is truly a God who still loves me. I am not entirely sure what that love looks like for my life right now or what it will look like for the next three months. I can only hope it means change. I want every person who has ever looked up to me or viewed me as somehow admirable to know that I am nothing special. I am one guy with a story so vile Hollywood would jump at the opportunity to tell it. I am an utter mess, and my life hasn’t been any pleasant form of relief. I haven’t had any “breathers”. I feel hopeless at many points in my life—I always have.

But this story that you’re looking at isn’t about me; it is about a God who can somehow manage to take the most wretched circumstances and work them out for good. A God who can take a broken vessel and somehow delineate his word through it in a way that makes him look so appealing, so fruitful, so worth the pain. You’d think I’m crazy, but I’m still in love. He doesn’t owe me anything. He’s given it all with the giving of himself.

No, I’m not satisfied. I’ll be honest. I’m not satisfied with just God. I long desperately for a woman who will find me worth loving and sharing life with forever. I long to meet people who actually want to get to know me and care. I long for stardom—usually for the purpose of sharing the gospel, but not always. I do want people to look up to me. I want people to want my life like I’ve desperately wanted the lives of so many others. I want people to say, “Wow, I was wrong about that kid.” I want recognition and acceptance—two things I’ve never had. I’ve never had it in church, in school, in friendships, in family, in the many acquaintances I wish were closer, or in the many girls I’d hoped for a chance to be with. I don’t know how to be satisfied. Contentment is such a far cry from what truly lies at the depths of me heart.

You probably have no idea what I’m talking about, but this is the most transparent I’ve ever been. I’m not proud of myself for much, but I’m proud of that. Being such an introspective thinker, most people would never know that I struggle with insecurity…and wrestle with mounds of pride at the same time. Ironically for a Leo, I find it much easier to cast down pride that insecurity. I fooled myself for a long time, thinking I had overcome it. I haven’t. But the point is that God is somehow constructing a story about himself, and I’m humbled to play a starring role.

You see, I matter to him. When I feel overlooked by the rest of the world, I know that he has graciously given me the chance to be a light in which he displays his glory. It doesn’t feel like it right now, but it certainly is a great thing, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I may not get all the frivolousness described above, but one day you will look at my life and regardless of whether it gets better or worse, you will be able to say, “God sure is a true and great God.”

This, in fact, is grace. It feels unfavorable right now, but it is beautiful, unmerited grace. And God I thank you for it.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10

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