Meeting the Bishop

28 Feb

Walking down the aisle to be accepted by the Bishop was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever taken part in. He smiled and his eyes sparkled when he drew a cross on my forehead to remind me of my baptism. In that moment I remembered the GOD I fell in love with. I saw Him shining through the Bishop’s eyes. And it was so wondrous that all I could do was smile and weep.

For years I believed the lie that no one loved me. Even on Sundays when the pastor preached on love, I still detected undertones of “God will love you if…” I struggled to fill in that “if.” I would lay in bed late at night and think about that “if.”

“If only I didn’t like that boy…”

“If only I was more patient…”

“If only I always knew what the right thing to do is…”

“If only I didn’t break my promises to God…”

“If only…”

“If only…”

“If only…”

If only starts to sound really strange if you say it a lot. You begin to blend the words together so that the consonants and syllables seem all slurred and blurry.

After a while, if only started to sound as strange to my heart as it does to my ears. I found myself questioning a god who would love me if I would only do what he wanted. I didn’t understand someone who would set a million impossible tasks before me and then dangle his love in front of me like some sort of sick incentive.

One of the first lessons I learned on my journey into the Church is that GOD’s love does not work the way I had been taught. His love for us does not follow our obedience; it precedes it. GOD loves us and because of that He desires us to do what is right, because doing what is right is good for us, and His love for us is meant to empower us to do right.

I realized that GOD does not use His love to incentivize us or to try to bribe us into goodness. He gives us His love because He wants to. And us doing right is just a way for us to express our thankfulness to Him. However, if we choose not to express our thankfulness, that doesn’t mean He’ll take His love away. It’s a gift that has no strings. Jesus is a gift without strings. And I love Him for that.

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