Sometimes, I wonder if I’ve met God. I’ve come across some interesting characters in my walk through life, and there are days when maybe I think that at some point, The Man Upstairs has covertly paid me a visit. Sounds crazy, right? Is that any crazier speaking into thin air and hoping God not only hears, but answers? Is it crazy to think that God would bother to stop in and see “someone like me” when he could be spending his time hanging out with Billy Graham or Mark Hoover? I guess the answer to that question is specific to who God is to each of us.
To me, God is not a vengeful god, He is not a judgmental god, and He is not a spiteful god. To me, God is a god of the broken. God is a god of second chances, and third chances, and chances of infinity. Perhaps my perspectives are self-serving, since I have more than my fair share of things that need forgiveness, but I can’t help but believe that if God is going to create me with love, then he is going to forgive my repeated transgressions, no matter how many times I fall to my knees and beg His forgiveness. That’s the beauty of the God I worship. He cares more about repentance than He does about what I am repenting. The song “Better Than a Hallelujah” describes this perfectly for me. God loves me, not because I’m broken, but because I’m broken at His feet.
The “Religious Elite” snub at me, and that’s fine. By their standards, I am an unforgivable sinner. The funny thing I’ve learned about “church people” is that if I don’t fit into their very narrow definition of what a Christian is supposed to be, then I am automatically a hell-bound lost cause. They are so self-important that they set unattainable standards for their own lives, then pretend that they meet (or exceed) them and others do not. Self-important people are mad at grace. These people hate that God could love and forgive me just as much as them. Simply, these people hate me. And I’m fine with that.
I can see their perspective. I really can. They spend their entire lives trying to live right, look right, speak right, be right, and yet, here I am, a criminal who has been publicly and professionally humiliated and ostracized, and I get the same brand of God’s grace that they get. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? But that’s the beauty of God. He’s cool like that. I honestly believe that God doesn’t obsess about the little things in our lives (like how often we go to church or whether or not we use profanity or when we enjoy a little too much chocolate), instead, God cares where our heart is, and how much we want God to be in it.
Nothing I can do will change how much God loves me. And nothing I can do will change the way church people despise me. Lucky for me, one of those means everything and the other means nothing. Regardless, I will continue to keep my low public profile, wearing sunglasses and hats and whatever else can keep anyone I once knew from giving me a glance and saying, “I know that guy.”
At the gym the other day, I ran into a guy I coached years ago. He’s in his twenties now, but he still looks the same. I was getting a post-workout rest when he walked in and stopped, giving me an awkward “Hi.” I’ve never had anything against him — in fact, he’s a really good guy — but I didn’t want to have to talk to him, simply because I knew it would probably be awkward for him. I wanted to politely let him know that he didn’t need to talk to me, that he didn’t need to feel obligated to offer any salutation. I obviously wouldn’t have meant that in a rude way, I would have just wanted him to know that the social contract that binds two former acquaintances and requires us to converse with social pleasantries wasn’t necessary. This I wanted to say, but I didn’t. I upheld my end of the social contract and exchanged a “Hello” and a “How are you,” then resumed my workout. He went about his way as well, and that was that. I haven’t seen him since. I wanted to tell him what was really on my mind, but the fact of the matter is, I needed to be social and I needed to be nice. Speaking my mind was not an option, even if it would have been aimed at keeping someone else from feeling socially awkward.
I hope that if I ever meet God, I can be honest, and speak my mind, and abide the social contract. Although, I doubt I could ever make God feel awkward. He knows everything about me, and face-to-face, he would never blush.
“Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.” -Mark Twain