Imperfect Past, Imperfect Present... Hopeful Future

Did you come from a divorced family, an abusive home, or some other past that keeps you feeling trapped in the "not-good-enough" category? Maybe it's the choices that you made that leave you feeling like you can never measure up with the "Joneses" around you. Perhaps you were raised in a fully-faked "perfect" (on Sundays) Christian family, and it leaves you feeling like authentic Christian faith in family life is (in reality) impossible.

Or maybe it's your present that leaves you feeling discouraged. Perhaps you are currently not living out anything like the kind of life, marriage, or family life that you *know* you should be living, but you just don't know how to do any different. Maybe you find yourself consistently doing things that you know you shouldn't do, and not doing the things that you know you should do. (For what it's worth, the Apostle Paul felt the same way.)

I just want to say, first of all, that I know at least some of what you're feeling. The choices I made as a young teenager (and the pain and grief that came from them) kept me in bondage for nearly 10 years, feeling as though I would never deserve anything good (isn't it sad how the devil twists the truth? NONE of us deserve anything good... it's not as if I was alone in that!), and that because I didn't *deserve* it, God wouldn't give it. What a crock of lies!

Which leads me to the second thing I want to say:
God is not like "karma"!
  • He is MERCIFUL-- (He doesn't immediately give us what we deserve.) He doesn't want to "stick it" to us and get us back for all the wrong we've done, tit for tat. In fact, He is slow to anger, and abounding in love and forgiveness.
  • And He is GRACIOUS-- (He gives us what we don't deserve.) He offers an abundant life, fully in line with His design of us and His purposes for our life. Even when life is difficult or when we face struggles, His plans for us are ultimately good.
He doesn't put our lives into a spreadsheet, weighing out the good and the bad, and from that input, determine what to give us (a good/bad marriage, lovable/intolerable children, abundant/struggling finances, etc.). But He DOES look for those mustard seeds of faith. Faithful choices, faithful words, faithful prayers... He wants our FAITH. He desires for us to HOPE in Him. We don't have to have our act together, or pull it together all by ourselves... He just wants our faith so that HE can do His work in us.

I have to tell you: He has been SO gracious to me... and He will do it for you too. His grace in your life undoubtedly will look different than what His grace in my life has looked like... He deals with us each in unique ways. But He WILL give it. He gives grace and mercy to those in need. He gives strength to those who wait upon (hope in) Him. He promises to give wisdom to those who ask Him. He gives favor to the humble.

So hope in Him! Admit your need, wait for Him, and humbly ask for wisdom. Don't let the imperfections of your past (or even your present) keep you from hoping in Jesus for your future. If you do, it doesn't mean everything will turn out like you've planned it, or like you want it to (from your perspective right now)... my life certainly hasn't turned out exactly like I thought it would. But I will say this: HIS plan for your life is going to be far more full and rich than the carrying out of your plans ever would be.

Don't be held back by what you've been, or even what you are today-- HOPE IN THE LORD!


Sarah said...

Amen! Thank God for His grace! :)

~Sarah OR

Amanda said...

What a beautiful, graceful post. Thank you.

Terry said...

Thanks Jess. Sometimes I need to be reminded that His strength is made perfect in my real and transparent weakness, not in my facade of strength.

Catherine R. said...

Very encouraging : ) The whole "karma" concept annoys me to no end. How is it that this idea has become such a mainstream interpretation of the character of God? It wouldn't surprise me if Satan himself was behind it. "Karma" essentially indicates that we earn our righteousness. I haven't earned mine and I don't know anyone who has...okay maybe Oprah. JUST KIDDING! :P

I am so glad that we don't get what we deserve and we get a wonderful thing that we don't deserve. Again, thanks for the encouragement, it is far too easy to lose hope sometimes.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful post. Thank you for posting it. :-)

Anonymous said...

Jess...what an encouraging post!! It is easy to forget how much God loves us...even when we "mess up." It's funny (not really...) but for a long time I also felt SO guilty about my past. Then it finally hit me when I read: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" ~2 Corinthians 5:17 - God has forgiven me, why should I hold onto the guilt??? Certain people in my family have told me (and this comes from an email a family member sent me) "I know you've done wrong in the past, but you
don't need to do things like this to make you a better person." I'm guessing "things like this" means now living the way Christ would want me to?? They think I'm going through a I've learned that the only opinion that matters is God's...and as I keep that in mind, the attacks are easier to deal with.

MaryBeth said...

Thank you for sharing this today. I was very blessed and encouraged. MaryBeth

Pepperpot said...

Amen to that! If we got what we deserved, I'd be dead by now. God has definitely been abundantly gracious to me.

Kittee said...

Oh my goodness, I believe I was meant to find this post today. I've only recently found Blogger and started my own blog and in doing such I've been searching out like minded individuals , reading their blogs, getting to know the community etc when I came across yours today.

"Perhaps you are currently not living out anything like the kind of life, marriage, or family life that you *know* you should be living, but you just don't know how to do any different. Maybe you find yourself consistently doing things that you know you shouldn't do, and not doing the things that you know you should do."

This is exactly how I feel. For so many years now I have been living a "good, typical American" life and I've felt "empty" inside. Something was wrong and I couldn't put my finger on it. I was suffering from panic attacks and a very bad temper. I kept trying to fill the "void" with meaningless activities and things, which wise people know that doesn't work very well.

It was only recently that I was able to sit down and evaluate what really matters to me in life and I can quickly summarize that for you here in a very short list.

1. Husband.(Being more submissive.)
2. Family.(Getting one started soon, being more in touch with my parents.)
3. Home.(Buying one soon.)
4. Kindness/Modesty.(The act of being more kind in everything I do.)
5. God. (Goes without saying right!)

(This list may not be in any particular order!)

Before my list would have been something like this...

1. Me. (Clothing,etc.)
2. Dirty House. (I'm too tired to clean!)
3. Husband. (Overly clingy.)
4. Things. (New fangled thingys!)

Can you see the difference?

Of course these are not changes than you can make over night and it is an everyday conscious choice for me to be "a better person." It is my goal that one day however that these changes will come unconsciously and naturally as the air I breath.
Later today I will post a more in depth look at this on my blog but I hope you don't mind me sharing my testimony here.