I went wrong.
I fully admit that I went wrong.
But I definitely went wrong.
I grew up going to church. Every Sunday. Every Wednesday. I was in church. I was one of the (rare) non-Catholic, non-Lutheran “Church Kids” in town.
Every summer I spent a week at church camp.
I was a good kid.
And I still went wrong.
I have known this for many years. I have known that I willingly stepped away from God. Claimed for many years that I didn’t even believe that God existed.
But I never dared to ask myself why.
Why did I go wrong?
It’s a dangerous question. And a painful question.
Painful, because, I know without question, without any hesitation, that I was at fault.
I finally asked myself the question. Sitting in church, listening to a sermon, the main topic of which currently escapes me. But sitting there, I knew that I needed to answer that question. And I finally came up with two separate, yet connected, answers.
I was insecure of my identity in God. And I was insecure in the identity of God.
First, my identity in God. Who am I? Who does God want me to be? Who does God need me to be? Growing up insecure in who I was made me feel unloved. And it led me to look for love in places that I was absolutely never going to find it. I know that now. But it led me down a path where I still hoped and dreamed I would find all of the things that I wanted in life. But instead, that path took me further and further away from the things I wanted and needed.
Second, the identity of God. Though I thought I knew who God was, in reality, I didn’t. I thought that having a relationship with God would give me sunshine and puppy dogs and roses and life would be happy forever and ever more.
Wow, how wrong could I be???
Yes, God is absolutely loving, caring, generous, gracious, merciful, and a whole lot of other adjectives. He is absolutely all of those things. But that doesn’t mean that we will never struggle. That we will never experience hardship. That we get a pass from all of the bad things that can and do happen in this world. It doesn’t work that way.
Of course, I thought it should work that way.
But it doesn’t.
So when life got really hard, instead of turning to God, I turned away from God. Because how could a God that claimed to love me let me go through all of this??? How dare God not give me everything that I wanted?
It took a long time for me to get over myself. It took many, MANY humbling experiences. Time, and time, and time again, I have been stubborn, and completely unworthy of God’s love.
And guess what?
God still loves me. He does.
I have given him a million reasons not to love me, yet he still does. He still loves me.
How awesome is that?
And guess what?
Life still isn’t sunshine and puppy dogs and roses.
I still struggle.
Bad things still happen.
But now, instead of turning away from God, I turn to God. Because I know that I absolutely cannot get through this life without Him.
Yes, I went wrong. I went VERY wrong.
And God didn’t take me back. Because, that would mean that there was a time that God left me. So no, God didn’t take me back.
He reminded me that He’s had me all along, whether I acknowledged that or not.