After five years of blogging, I’ve spent some time regrouping and focusing on what I really want to say here. One of the steps in the process has been going through the archives. I’ve been removing entries that no longer fit, looking for what best reflects who I am now and what I want to say to my fellow sojourners.
Like so many kids in the Bible Belt, my everyday life revolved around the local church. I grew up knowing all the expectations and politics of small town religion from a very early age. It wasn’t until personal disaster struck when I was 28 that I finally realized I had completely missed God. Once I stopped viewing the local church as a talent show and realized that it’s actually a beautiful opportunity to connect with other broken people, my life changed. (Read: my world. Universe. Faith. Perspective. Everything changed.)
I get the question all the time of “why do you call grace messy?” Because I did not find God when I performed for Him (and others). I found Him in the middle of my mess. I tried to serve men and rules and ideals, but it didn’t save me. It didn’t keep me. Actually, it almost killed me. But in my failure, I found God. In the changing. In the daily living. He showed up. I had worn myself out trying to be perfect. I couldn’t please everyone any more. I was empty, isolated, and felt like a failure. But in my mess, I encountered the Father’s heart. And I began a process of true healing. He has walked through every step of the process with me. It wasn’t until God’s messy grace found me that I began to believe the truth that nothing can separate me from His love.
It’s taken a long time, but I am finally settling into the fact that there is nothing I can ever do to cause God to love me any more or any less than He always has. He is not a God of performance, but rather the God of the process. He is the constant Voice we are all searching so desperately for. He’s willing to get messy with me, the forever prodigal. Good news? If you find yourself in the same boat, He’ll do the same for you.
Psalm 57:1 comes to mind. “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”
It’s been interesting and honestly a little embarrassing to see some of the things that I posted in 2010 and 2011. I have deleted more than 275 entries that just don’t reflect what I believe any longer. We all imagine ourselves to be a consistent voice of grace and truth, but we also have to extend enough grace to ourselves to say, “It’s okay to be different now.” So I choose not to be embarrassed by the things I have learned. It’s good to grow. A friend told me several months ago that she views faith like a moving river. It’s constantly flowing and we decide, individually, when and where we are going to dip our toes in the water. I love that picture. The flow of faith.
I am thankful that God gives us all space to move in and out of our belief system as we search for Him with all our hearts. I can’t go back and edit my life like I have edited the archives of this blog, but I am becoming more okay with that fact all the time. He doesn’t need me to. He only asks me to surrender the struggle to Him and allow Him to walk with me through it, right into the middle of my mess.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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