Published on
January 8, 2011

As mentioned before, I'm currently reading through No Perfect People Allowed by John Burke, and one of the three chapters I read today happened to be on creating a culture of hope. I'll spare you the summary. What I want to share with you is just something I happened to write down in my notes while reading. You see, in my effort to become a better leader and seeking God, I've found that writing notes alongside my reading actually helps. It helps to gather my thoughts, and it helps for me to remember major things just in case I want to share.

This particular train of thought came after a couple of sentences that read "The problem compounds, though, when seekers come into our churches or groups and rather than hear the predominate message of hope in Christ - that the Creator of the seas wants to come on board and navigate them toward life - they hear only that God is mad about the reefs they keep hitting. They're not about to let an angry navigator on board, life's miserable enough already." Here are my thoughts:

My whole life has been about feeling guilty. I reaffirmed at every alter call. Been called out (in my mind) at every sermon. At times I may have found great community, but it wasn't perfect, and I always struggled that I wasn't perfect myself. Churches lay on the guilt heavily, and I bought into it; which is why when I left home and the church, and found genuine people of acceptance (that were non-christian,) I left conviction behind and started to live guilt free. I didn't want to live the life God had for me if it meant feeling guilty about everything. I just wanted to live. But then I found myself pretty empty and broken, and in many ways I am still like that, but now I know that what I need is a God to give me hope, love, and acceptance. That he can give me grace and direction. He doesn't want to condemn me, he wants to give me life.

This is a part of my story that I've only recently come to discover. As I said above, in many ways I'm still broken, empty, lost and trying to find my way. Giving the control over to God is still something I struggle with day-after-day, and that last part about hope, love, and acceptance is really only a recent development. There's really not much I can expand on that right now, I'm still learning and have yet to understand the direction that God is taking me, but at least now I understand the true message from God, the one that I never got from churches in the past.

Don't get me wrong. I had a family growing up, and that family was the church. In high school I learned a lot of things about God and people and my home church gave me a very good foundation on which I could build on in terms of belief. I loved those people and I know that they loved me very much. Unfortunately I found it very hard to step foot back into that church because I always felt like a failure. I didn't want to feel guilty, I already did that enough to myself, and so I never chose to visit old friends out of that fear.

Perhaps after a while the guilt was only from myself, but I believe this is how the church comes across in their message and this is why it's so hard to get others to understand why Christians follow Christ. I felt like God was constantly wanting to condemn me or punish me, and so I stayed away for a long time and slowly let him back in only when I thought I was being "on my best behavior." When I found friends who didn't go to church I wondered why it was I felt so much more comfortable around them, and now I realize it was because they never made me feel guilty, and they always accepted me the way I am. I knew that if I found "Christian Friends" then I would have to be held "accountable" for my actions, but no one really wants that. I just wanted to have good friendships and live the life I thought I could.

I never stopped believing in God. I never stopped believing in Christ. I just didn't see the point of feeling worthless.

I felt myself being drawn back to church plenty of times, and I tried, but a lot of the times it just never worked out. I never understood until now that I was hiding. I just didn't want to give up control. I didn't want to lose what I had and I didn't see the benefit of getting back into something that was all about laws and organization and stature with nothing to do with acceptance or love. I didn't understand it and so I stayed away from it.

"God knows me." I told myself. "He knows who I am and he knows that I love him."
I just didn't want to give him control. I didn't want to feel like I was doing it all wrong.
That I was going in the wrong direction.

Then I found that things weren't going according to plan. That everything was falling apart around me and I couldn't figure out why. I asked God but never got an answer. I pointed the finger because I didn't want to be the one to blame.

You see, I didn't understand that God didn't want me to be perfect. I didn't understand that people struggle and that's just a part of human nature. He sees that and it's quite alright with him. The attraction of allowing God to grasp hold of my life is not that he can make me into this perfect soldier for which to do his bidding, but that I could live the life that he has wanted for me all along. The things that I had always been pursuing would be made clear if only I would let him take control.

He's not wanting me so that he can tell me what I CAN'T do. He wants instead to show me what I CAN do if only I trust in him.

I read another page in my book and got to this. The confirmation of God's message through the one who was in unity with him.

Jesus came, died on the cross, and overcame the grave....Why? To give us life! Jesus said, "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness." "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." God longs to wake us up to give us the fullness of life.

It took me almost 24 years to get past all the guilt and to get to here.

Mattias is an actor, writer, filmmaker, and editor currently living in Los Angeles, CA. He often writes about his observations about life, the human condition, spirituality, and relationships. He also enjoys writing about movies, pop culture, formula one, and current events. Often these writings are 'initial thoughts' and un-edited, as authentic as possible, and should be considered opinions. If you're interested in commenting on his work, or continuing the conversation, you should consider following him on Twitter or share an article on social media, where he would love to engage even further. Consider subscribing via RSS for more.