The thought that seems to be flooding my mind on the daily arises in a form of this question, “what keeps people going? What is the motivation to constantly go through this life?” We’re reminded that in this life we will have trouble.
As a Jesus-lover, you would expect the typical Christian response “My hope is in Jesus” followed by Jeremiah 29:11, right? Isn’t that supposed to be every Christian’s answer? Jesus. Moving on, I think about my friends and peers who follow a different religion or don’t follow any religion. I ponder what keeps them going. What motivates someone to push through life? Where do they find their hope? Do they know their worth? Do they know that they’re much more than just cells?
It’s overwhelming to see someone as God’s creation. I love admiring people’s beautiful souls, hearts and minds. I love looking at creation. I love looking at you, created being. I look at you in the same way I look at a beautiful view.
Anyway, It’s interesting reflecting on the times I really did trust in the universe or trusted in myself and not in God. I enjoy reflecting on the times where I put Christianity “on trial” and dug into this Jesus character. Is Christianity real? Did Jesus die on the cross? I believe it was just last year that I went through hours of research learning about God and understanding if it’s even possible for a god to exist.
The world is filled with intelligent people who all see life differently, how do we know what’s right and what’s wrong? There was a time in my life where I gave up in trusting in God and relied only on something I can control, myself, and trusting in myself. “Trust the universe” we say. My role here is to just get you and I to think. My role here is to share with you my story and to share with you my honest thoughts about, well, anything. The idea is to get you to question and see things in the way I see them. I’ve tried this with your worldview, would you try mine?
So though there was never a time where I shouted from the rooftops, “God isn’t real”, there was a time where I unintentionally found my hope in myself not in Jesus. Or I say “trust the universe” because though I still “trusted” in God, it was very much like flipping a coin instead of seeing God as God. I love how God describes Himself:
The Lord came down in a cloud, stood with him there, and proclaimed his name, “the Lord.” 6 The Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: The Lord—the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, 7 maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation. Exodus 34:5-6
Compassionate, forgiving, just, faithful…maybe the god that you’ve had in your head is one that doesn’t exist. Maybe it’s one that doesn’t fit this description described in Exodus. That’s how God describes Himself, that’s the one I believe, not some magic genie or anything remotely close to manipulative or evil.
I see the world as an imperfect place filled with imperfect people. I see the world for its beauty. I see people for their beauty, but I also see the wickedness that lies in this world and in its imperfect people. I see myself. I see myself as perfectly imperfectly made. How can I trust in something so imperfect and flawed?
When I put my hope in myself it became this weird control thing. “Ah, because I cannot control what happens to me, I can at least control how I respond.” Yeah, that’s accurate. It’s extremely wise to know your boundaries and know what you can and can’t control. But I see the extremity to that and how I incorporated that into my life and it just felt so impossible to put my hope in myself.
“Be a better person than you were the day before” was my Instagram bio for the longest time. I relied solely on that. I relied on my imperfect ability to just improve and improve as a person. But where’s the grace when I fall short? What happens when I don’t meet the mark? Or I hear this one a lot, “Just be yourself and work hard”, but what happens when you can’t work hard? What happens when you can’t get the good grades? What happens when you can’t get employed? What happens when the unlikely happens? We’re finite. We’re imperfect. When your world falls apart, where is your hope? Where do you place it?
Again, speaking from experience, it led to this ongoing emotional roller coaster. One day I felt like I was on top of the world because by my own willpower, I was able to do the impossible, but the next day I feel like I’m at rock bottom because I caved and didn’t stick to my diet. I felt like there was this lack of grace and forgiveness toward myself and toward others. If people didn’t act perfectly, I’d be angry. If I didn’t act perfectly, I’d be even more angry. We live in a society that celebrates working so hard to build your brand, doing everything you can to have zero body fat, and somehow managing completely healthy relationships… while sleeping two hours a night and smiling and showing off those black coffee-stained teeth. Good job, America. Good job, us. Good job, run-on sentences.
But don’t take what I say out of context. Work hard, absolutely. Do your best, absolutely. Be a good person and aim to grow as a person, absolutely. But my question to you is what do you do when you fall short? What do you do when the imperfect person is imperfect? When I lived in that similar mindset, I equally loved and hated myself. I loved when I was “perfect”. I hated when I wasn’t. “Just work hard”, how do you do that after you’ve gotten into that accident? How do you do that when you’re in the middle of a pandemic? How can you always “win” in a place where everyone is trying to always “win”? The hours I spent frustrated over my imperfection and my lack for grace are impossible to count. Can you relate to these feelings?
“Trust in the universe.” I mean, yeah, it’s works. Trust that things will work out. Trust that things just so happen to form perfectly and with order. But do you, my skeptical friends, do you know your worth? This is the question that can easily make me emotional when I talk to people. Do you know your worth? Do you see yourself as more than just a conglomeration of atoms? Do you see your purpose and do you see why you were created? Do you see the uniqueness in how you were formed and who you were made to be? Do you see that there is more to your passions, gifts and beautiful desires than just your nature or nurture? Do you know who you are, created being? Let me ask again…do you know your worth? I see you as creation created by a Creator. That’s how I see every single one of you, made wonderfully and purposefully.
The way I look at life is though these set of phrases: I am loved eternally. I am made with a purpose. I am more precious than rubies. In an imperfect world, I am made by a perfect God who I choose to seek every single day of my life. I am chosen by a God who loves everything about me and encourages me to live a life that glorifies Him. He is gracious, forgiving and loving. No matter what happens in life, I am fully loved by an all-knowing, perfect and omnipresent God.
That’s my hope. That’s my motivation. That’s what continues to push me every single day.
Let it be known the clear difference between trusting the universe and trusting God. Though both are great coping mechanisms and both help explain the things that don’t make sense, one says you’re just atoms and another says you’re created meticulously and with a purpose. One begs us to hope that the universe is on our side and hopefully things go our way, fingers crossed. Another says that we’re loved fully and no matter what, there is nothing we can do to separate the love God has for us. “Hopefully” versus “certainly”. Now is not the time to tackle the topic of suffering, go open up a Bible and go do your research, friends. But, there is an answer to the famous “if God is real, why does suffering exist?” Look into it.
“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Jesus is my hope and there is nothing I can do to lose my salvation. I am saved by grace alone, through faith alone and in Christ alone. My friends of a different religion, I am forever grateful to live a life where I don’t have to question what comes next after I die. I am forever grateful to live a life that is not based on my own works or accomplishments. I am forever grateful to know that there is much more to this imperfect world.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, 5 made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” Ephesians 2:4-9
“Be a better person”, yeah, that is the goal. Well, more specifically for me, be a woman of God who honors Christ in all things that I do. I’m biased but it’s a great goal. I aspire to do that daily but I am forever grateful to know that even when I fall short, I am fully loved. Work hard, absolutely, but I am forever grateful to know that my worth in not found in my work nor my successes or failures. My hope lies in something that is beyond this finite world. My hope is in Jesus and because He is perfect, all-knowing and all-loving, I know who I am and who I am created to be. This is not to offend you, my friends of a different belief system, this is just to explain how a Christian sees life. Life is still hard, absolutely, but I am secure in my worth and my salvation despite what happens in this troublesome and joyful life. Consider it so.
You’re more than just atoms. You’re more than just a coincidence. Know your worth. Know your worth. Know your worth.
For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.14 I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.15 My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth.16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began.