My life today is nothing compared to what it was even five years ago, let alone 30 years ago when I began my Christian journey. God planted a seed of change; however, it took almost 20 years to stop living according to my rules and listen to his desires for me.
It isn’t always easy to look back on our lives and review the mistakes we have made that hurt others and that have hurt us. Twelve step programs calls that “taking our inventory.” At certain points in our lives it is necessary to take stock of how we have lived, especially if we want to move forward and become better people. For me, that takes God—it takes admitting to him that which he already knows and then seeking first his forgiveness and then asking that he change me. At some point, we also need to apologize to those we hurt, which can be the most difficult part, especially if the other person is unwilling to hear.
I have made some royal mistakes in my life. Some would say I have sinned in a big way and that too is true. There was damage left in my wake. I took the hurt I carried and inflicted it on others. I lived unaware for some many years, hiding and numbing my internal pain in any number of ways. I did that until I began to recover from my own pain and could better understand why I behaved the way I did. And still, today I look back with sadness as I realize that some may never recover from our damaged relationships. I am thankful to those of you who have found forgiveness in your heart. I know it was not easy and you so inspire me to trust that God can and will repair all things, if we trust him.
It is never too late to change. I believe that God gives us as many chances as we need to get it right. After all, Jesus did say something about forgiveness—70 times 7. His forgiveness is limitless. I know we as mere humans may not find it as easy to forgive; however, if we can begin by admitting our own faults to God and accept his forgiveness, we may also find peace. I may never have the chance to tell some people how sorry I am to have hurt them, how sorry I am that things became twisted, and how much I wish things were different. But I can change. The best possible thing we can do is seek forgiveness and then turn our lives around.
Be different today. Let go of the pain you carry. Seek forgiveness and freedom. Show yourself you are transformed by what you do next.
This morning I find myself asking: “What do you want me to do?” In my time of meditation I almost feel a crushing desire to be more, but I’m not sure what that looks like or how to get there. I have ideas. I know that I can’t get there without help. I know I can’t get there without dedication. I know I can’t get there without turning my will over and letting God direct my steps. I see a glimmer of his vision for my future and I realize that I have to make a plan and take the steps to get where I believe he is calling me. But how do I do that?
Just as I am sure that God led me to Psalm 25 for healing, I believe he is leading me to Matthew 5, specifically a study of The Beatitudes, to learn how to live a transformed life. These eight principals are complex guidelines given to us by Jesus on how to live our lives as people of character and purpose. I’m no theological scholar and my intent here is not to develop some new understanding of what Jesus meant. Rather, my goal is to gain a better understanding of what these principals mean for my life as his follower. Join me on my journey as I ask questions and hopefully motivate you to think about what Jesus wants from you at this point in your life.
I’m the first to admit that I wondered aimlessly through most of my life with no plan or direction. I was fortunate to have many doors open for me professionally but my private life was a mess. I had a bit of a hippy “go with the flow” attitude and was up for anything that looked like fun. That fun put in me in some situations that I wish I had been smart enough to avoid and might have avoided if I had a better plan. Nothing really inspired me except trying to avoid feeling pain. The only thing that really motivated me was to prove to others they were wrong about me and to paint a bright picture that I had it all together by living a lifestyle someone else told me I should. After I crashed and burned, I rose from the ashes ready to transform the person I was into the person God wanted. It is a slow ongoing process, but I am now willing to listen.
The Beatitudes are that for me. A time to sit at the feet of God made man and to listen to how he says I can be happy. The Sermon on the Mount—the complete teachings that day on the mountainside—are the words I need to inspire me. As we hear and pray on those words, I hope we will all be motivated in a new direction. I pray that at the end of this series, we will all feel that we are transformed by God’s grace.
Matthew 5 New International Version (NIV)
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
So today I started to write my blog as if I were someone else. I wanted to be clever and smart and theological. I wanted to sound like someone who is well educated and has had a successful career. I wanted to sound like the people whom I respect and try to gain their respect. I wanted to get the respect of people whom I think don’t value what I am doing. I stopped being the person God made and the person God led to tell this story. I lost my way there for a moment.
You see, there was a time in my life when I tried really hard to be someone else. If you didn’t like my behavior, I stuffed in the closet. If you didn’t like the way I looked, I starved myself and I stuffed the “fat” me in the closet. If someone thought I was too shy, I stuffed quiet me in the closet and let loud loose me out. Little by little I shoved everything I was into a closet so that other people would be impressed with me or happy with me. It got to the point where I no longer cared about anything, except what you thought of me.
And soon I just stopped feeling.
Then one day, driving down the road, I exploded. I had no idea what was going on, I just knew I had lost my mind. Nothing was real to me anymore. I resented the people that I worked so hard to impress because in the end, they still didn’t care. My closet exploded and all my dirty little secrets came pouring out for everyone to see. I picked up those nasty pieces and made them mine. I ran from everything I had tried so hard to build into a hole of nothingness. I felt deserted by my friends, my church, my priest, and my family.
But God didn’t abandon me. God never left my side. God never threw me out with the trash.
I began to find myself in the rooms of a 12 Step program. I began to find myself crying in the pew on Sunday morning. I began to find myself in the conversations I had with professional counselors. I began to find myself by letting Jesus be my friend and forgive me. I found myself by letting go of the garbage and letting God heal those dark places. I found myself with dear friends who held my hand through the painful journey. Mostly I found myself by accepting that I am uniquely made in God’s image and no matter what anyone else thinks of me—I am special to him and that makes me special to me! The simple fact that God already knows about all that junk in the closet and still loves me is enough. I am who I am because God allowed me to grow through these dark moments and has brought me out of the fire and into the light.
I don’t have any profound scripture or passage to share with you today. All I have today is God’s story of salvation and transformation for me. I am changed because I reached a hand up and he grabbed it and has never let go. Reach out today, in some way, shape, or form and let God reveal how wonderfully made and loved you are and begin to see the possibilities in your future. Be that beloved person God made you to be. Share your transformation story and see how God changes the lives of others. Open the closet and let the real you spring forward.
My Psalm 25 Path
Defeated and Shamed.
Disgraced and Embarrassed.
Trapped by the past;
setup for failure
Pathway and Choices.
Deceived and Defrauded.
My road of shame;
lying to myself.
Revealed and Revived.
Forgiven and Humbled.
Freed from the past:
the pathway of light.
Living and Loving.
Trustful and Courageous.
protected for life
Sharing and Caring.
Joy with laughter.
I hate that word
Used Abused Prey
Still means victim
Spent Harmed Target
The pain erased
See me as I am today
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:11-12 (New International Version)