I came to understand that God hadn't lost me, even if I seemed for years to have misplaced God.~Kathleen Norris (From Amazing Grace, A Vocabulary of Faith)
My husband began reading my new book this week. He said, "You talk a lot about God. I could call you the God girl." I reflected on his comment and the labyrinthine course of my faith. For many years I "misplaced" Him, or perhaps more accurately, I detached from Him. Wanted no more of the fundamental principles I came to believe were associated with my faith in Jesus. I tried to leave the faith, but found that was impossible. How could I truly remove myself completely from the One who interceded in prayer for me, who promised never to leave me?
For decades my heart was caged in a belief system that was tied into performance-based, conditional love. I believed that the only way I could be accepted by God, loved by God, was performing well. If my behaviors fell in line, then I could receive His acceptance. But if not, I couldn't approach Him. It was all about keeping the rules. I could earn His love by my good behavior. Toxic.
My faith was like running miles around a track. Round and round the track I'd go, racking up miles, fine dust particles affixed to my Nikes, my calves muscular. My performance kept me strong. But there came a time, in a spiritual sense, when I could no longer muster the energy to run--to keep the rules, to perform. I believed I had failed God and He wanted no more to do with me when I was weak, when I was no longer fit and muscular. I was wrong.
He pursued me. He rescued me. He drew close to me. I couldn't resist grace. I could not withstand unconditional love that was not dependent on my behavior and performance, my ability to keep running. It was in this merciful environment that my belief system was recalibrated. My fear diminished, because I knew I'd been accepted for who I was. For the first time in my life, I began reading the Bible because I wanted to--not because reading it fit into some kind of religious formula. I began to relish time in His presence when I could talk with Him. Prayer became part of a relationship instead of a burden.
His grace convinced me that I was not only loved by HIm. He liked me too. He liked the way He created me. My God was not all about the "disciplines" of the faith, but rather all about the "delights" of the faith. When a person is loved, she can relax. Bask in her identity as the beloved. Then the "doing" follows.
So, yes, I guess I am a "God girl." My book speaks to much of this circuitous route of finding my way back to faith. My relationship with God is not merely a comfort. He saved me, and not only my soul. He saved me from rule keeping and legalism. His grace unlatched the cage and allowed my heart its freedom. Inside His grace and mercy and love I do run. Still. These truths are my joy. My wings.