Though we may experience pain and suffering from our own faults, we can also come to discover the true redemptive nature of God's love.
Through the past few months, Jesus has been walking me through some of the more ugly parts of my heart. This includes reminding me of my past sins and faults, showing me the root of insecurities, and how much further I have to go to achieve holiness. Now, I want to be clear: I don’t say this in a negative light. It is truly a beautiful process to walk through the muck and gain a deeper understanding of God’s nature. When you take this walk, you discover that Jesus offers redemptive love.
I want to start by saying this walk can be spiritually and physically taxing. I highly encourage undergoing spiritual direction through the process, as questions are sure to rise. For myself, this process started at what I thought was a spiritual attack. What I found out instead is that it was God actually granting me greater insight into His nature. For weeks I felt the weight of my sins and the hurt that I had caused stronger than ever before. My first reaction to these feelings was inward. I was ashamed of my past, guilty of the pain I had caused, and struggled accepting myself. Through multiple conversations with friends I discovered that many other people have felt this way at some point too. The motivation to discuss this topic came from my own desire to share some of the insights I gained through this journey and hopefully assist you as well.
I started off by saying that we can discover the redemptive love that Jesus offers us when we trudge through the muck in our heart. I wholeheartedly believe this to be true, which I know may seem odd since the muck of our heart is the part we typically want to keep hidden. Contrarily to how humans may react to our downfalls, Jesus actually offers us the catalyst that calls us into deep conversion - love. What do I mean by this? For example, one of the main struggles I had been going through was sins committed years ago when I first started college. There was a great deal of guilt and shame associated with these sins and I truly wanted to forget they even existed. Maybe this would be easier on our minds if we could just forget, but the weight of the sins can also be a unique gift. First, we can learn from the sin. We can understand why we fell, what led us to that point, and even better, how to avoid it in the future. The reason we may not be able to forget and move on is because the memory may serve as a reminder of what life was like before Christ. It has certainly served as motivation for me not to return to prior sinful ways, and for that I am thankful. Secondly, God can redeem our sins. Likewise what He did with death, God can conquer and redeem this evil and turn the outcomes into redemptive good. We know this through the resurrection of Jesus, and now we can experience that same rebirth. This good may not be obvious, and certainly we may not be able to see it even at times, but that is no reason to worry. When we invite Jesus to redeem our sins we are invoking his resurrection and allowing him the opportunity to instigate a miracle within us. For myself, the redemption came in a few forms. First, a greater understanding of the true effects of sin. This mainly came in the form of understanding the the pain that it inflicted upon myself, loved ones, and even Jesus. Understanding this has led me into a deeper respect for the human person and allowed me to practice more temperance. Secondly (and this is the biggie), it allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the true nature of God.
This true nature of God is pure mercy and love. Growing up I was always told “God is love.” This phrase is comforting and all, but to me it didn’t mean much. I wanted a concrete vision of who God was and this abstract idea didn’t serve my tiny mind well. However, my understanding of the nature of God was drastically changed by my sins. Experiencing God welcoming me back into His arms after walking away is truly the greatest joy I have experienced in life yet. This was the moment I finally came to understand that God offers tried and true redemptive love. That love and mercy that we see the father offer the lost son in the parable of the prodigal son is the same love and mercy He offers us. Now shouldn’t I have just avoided the sin and cultivated my relationship with Christ to come to a better understanding of this? Yes, yes I should have. Can I change my past? No, no I cannot. This mercy and love is not an excuse to sin, and God never permits sin. However, we can all find peace and redemption by accepting our pasts and inviting God into them. Then and only then can true healing occur. Then we will understand the boundless amounts of love and mercy offered to us by Christ.