There’s a saying in recovery circles, that goes something like this: I’m not where I want to be but I’m better than used to be. And lately, by the grace of God, the truth of this statement is being proven to me.
A few weeks ago I fell into depression after witnessing how my brokenness as a young mother was still impacting the lives and relationships of my grown sons. I despaired for their relationship with one another and for the dysfunction I saw in their lives and families. Thank God, my older son has Jesus in his life, and that has made a huge difference for him.
I felt a deep well of sorrow as I remembered how lost I was when my boys were growing up and some of the ways I’d behaved because of it. After I asked my church to pray for me, the Holy Spirit revealed the root of my own woundedness and of the wounds I had inflicted on my sons. It is a generational pattern, or spirit, of passivity. And as I prayed into this insight, seeking God for wisdom and healing, things began to shift and change.
For the past couple of weeks, my loving Father in Heaven has been encouraging me by showing me that I am better than I used to be in many areas of my life, and some of the ways that I have grown and changed for the better. Of course there are still areas of my life where change and growth is still needed, but I am so grateful for these brief glimpses of just how much I have grown and changed over the years that I have known Jesus.
But I can’t take the credit for this change; it has not been accomplished by will power or by striving under my own strength. No, except for being willing to change, it has taken place pretty much without me altogether. Oh, I have tried to change myself. I have struggled to stop doing the things that grieve me and grieve the Holy Spirit, but it has proven downright impossible. The change has occurred simply because I have given my life and my challenges into the hands of God, and have believed in His Son.
The founders of AA discovered this during their life and death struggles with alcoholism, and they wrote very eloquently about what they learned, saying:
…we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. (AA Big Book, pages 83-84)
I praise God and give thanks for His grace in my life – and for the transformation that experiencing His love has wrought in me. I long for everyone who is wounded because of abuse and neglect, who is struggling to overcome, who is hiding, who is filled with shame and self-loathing, to come to know Him as I know Him: as my kind and loving Father. I wish that they too could be set free from the endless cycle of striving to become a better person, and then hating themselves for their failures. I wish that they too could learn to abide in His love, and allow His power to be made perfect in their weakness. This is all I have done, and continue to do on a daily basis – although not perfectly.
Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” (John 15:9) That’s a lot of love! And it’s right here and now, within our grasp. If only we would reach out and take hold of it. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter how low you’ve sunk, God is right here waiting for you. All you have to do is turn your heart to Him, reach out and take His hand, ask for His help. And if you can hold on tight and abide in His love, you too will find that He is doing for you what you cannot do for yourself.
It’s true. And He longs for you to know His love.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is. Romans 12:2