In that safety, I finally begin to answer His question. “Papa, I used to love the church. I know I did at some point. But now—now I just plain hate her! I do not want to invite any one. I do not want to even be there. I love the individuals but I hate the body.
“She is ugly and dysfunctional. She is hurtful and dishonest and abusive. She takes and takes and takes but does not give in return. She is wretched and ugly. I hate her! How can I love that?
“You have shown me how to love my husband. But he has laid down his life for me and his children. But the church? She has never been there, never supported, never stood by me. And You want me to choose to love that?” The words tumble out in a flurry. I feel wretched and afraid. Part of me expects understanding from Him. A larger part though expects correction and rebuke.
“You have been wounded, you voice the harvest of those seeds. I have promised you before I would not rebuke you for being wounded. I cannot require discipline of your hurts.”
He holds me very firmly now. I cannot pull away without struggling with Him. I want to though. I want to run and hide. “I almost wish You would! I do not want to do what You ask. I do not know how! I wish You would rebuke me so that I would have to find a way to do it.”
“I will not do that, child.” There is no note of anger in His voice although I cannot fathom why.
I hate to even think it, but I do not really understand why He would refuse. I am suddenly aware of a bitter and vile thought. I hate to admit it, but I hear myself thinking, “Why would He turn down the opportunity to hurt me when I am even asking for it?” Tears of hurt and shame begin to flow. I want to hide from Him, but cannot.
“Now, we can talk.” His voice is gentle as He shifts me into His lap, pulling me close enough to hear His heartbeat. “You expect, deep within, that I really want to hurt you.” There is no accusation in His words, only a statement of fact.
He is right, I do. I really expect He wants to see me hurting. After all, that is what His church has done, it is what my mother has done… Then I realize it is her voice that I am hearing and feeling I this moment. I do not know why, but I have always assumed she wanted to hurt me. The little criticisms, jabs, observations made when I thought I was doing well. I guess they left the sense that she really wanted to hurt me. And worse. I have felt that this is the way it should be so much so I invite and accept it.
“Papa! Forgive me! I did not know. I have seen you this way too. Please forgive me! Please help me to see you the right way” I cry into His arms. There is no rebuke, no harshness, no anger from Him.
The sin, it must be sin, it was born out of the hurts of many years. He is not angry with my hurts. I can feel His desire to bring healing to these wounds and cleanse the sin of my heart and replace it with truth. “Please forgive me Papa.”
“Forgive her.” He says, I know He means both my mother and the church.
“Yes, Papa. I choose now to forgive them both. Please forgive me my lack of forgiveness. I repent Papa, I repent and I choose now to forgive them and release them both to You.” I whisper he words, He has drawn me so close I do not need to speak them more loudly.
He says nothing but I can hear the beat of His heart and the soft chimes of grace in my ears.
Finally, He speaks. “I love you daughter. Know this does not change that at all. Remember I kissed you before I asked this of you.”
I had not seen that, had not remembered that. I press into Him as He holds me, relieved in seeing this. I am truly safe and secure here with Him. He truly does accept me, not based on my performance.
“Because you have chosen this though, you will see changes. The seeds you have sown will be watered through this sacrifice.”
I stumble on the words sacrifice, confused.
“Your obedience is a sacrifice child. Do not minimize that. You have chosen to lay down the hurts of the past out of love for Me, asking nothing in return. I do not treat that lightly.
“This sacrifice shall be rain upon those seeds. And I will bless your harvest with abundance.” Tenderly He lifts my chin and kisses my forehead, cradling my face in His hand.
“I love you Papa.” I whisper.
“I know child, I know.” He replies. He adds nothing, no condition, no corrections, no requirement, no demands. He simply receives from my heart.
“Thank you for that, Papa. Thank you for not asking for what I cannot give, for not demanding what I cannot do.”
“Lay down that burden, that fear here and now daughter. I want to free you from that load. You have long been weighed down with the notion that to be loved and accepted you have to do more, do what you cannot do, be someone else. Lay that down now and fully receive the love I have for you.”
“Yes, Papa, I will lay that down. How do I do that?” I wish I already knew, but I cannot see it.
“Look in your hand.” He replies.
As I do, I find I am carrying a small, smooth stone. Large block letters spelling out “Not Enough” adorn the deep grey, oblong piece. An icy knot forms in my gut as I read those words. They capture the entire situation so very clearly. Never enough.
“Give Me the stone.” His words are an invitation, not a demand. He will not take this from my by force.
Not shifting from the hold He has on me, I press the stone into His right hand. “It is yours Papa. I will not be “not enough” any longer.” I close my eyes and press into Him.
His arm tenses as His hand closes around the stone. I can hear the stone cry out and finally break under the force of His great strength. He throws the pieces into the darkness of the cave where they will not be found. They clatter and bounce as they fall.
“You are enough, daughter. You are sufficient and made for my particular purpose. Do not accept any longer or even hear the admonition that what I have created in you is wrong or that it is not enough. You are the work of My hands and My delight. My grace and My grace in you are sufficient and I am pleased.”
“You are so good to me, Papa.” I whisper, marveling at how much has changed since this walk began. In many ways I feel as though I have met Him for the very first time. I have known Him, but not truly known His heart. “Thank You, Papa.”
In the stillness of the place, the only sounds I hear are the sounds of Him, the falling water, the chimes of grace, His breath and heartbeat. This place is full of Him and only Him. There is neither room nor place for anything else. There are moments when I still cannot believe myself here with Him, like this. This is all so very different than what I have ever believed or understood.
“And what do you think of that?” I an hear a wry smile in His voice.
“I think that I like You and trust You more that I ever thought I could and that You are much safer that I ever realized. I finally have begun to understand how You can be who You are and yet love me without condition or caveat. I don’t completely understand, but it is a beginning
“You are so much more awesome than I ever understood. I love to lose myself in this place, in worship before You. You are truly more incredible that I can ever say. Only You, Papa, only You.
It seems as though He sighs at this; it sounds as though He is pleased. “Rest now, with Me.”
Laying my head to His breast, I sleep.