When my racing thoughts stop and the productivity and acclaim and noise quiets down, my deepest fear surfaces: what if I am worth hating?
For a long time I didn’t answer that question because I feared the reply.
I lived in a shut-off, tamped-down, disengagement. A low grade depression. A low grade life.
I grew up believing that God’s grace was enough, is enough, and should always be enough. But I wasn’t happy. There was no sense of fulfillment, peace, or “enough” in my life. I thought that made me a bad Christian. I had accepted Jesus into my heart, my sins were forgiven, I was supposed to be happy. I should have been happy. I believed Christians had a duty—a responsibility—to be joyful. Christians had the hope of heaven and the relief of forgiveness, a built in best friend and Savior. Non-Christians had Darwin and Nietzsche, chaos and meaninglessness. I had no idea how they even got up in the morning.
But instead of joy and security I lived in depression and guilt.
When I was little, I was not only a rule follower, I made up my own elaborate rules. There was a right way to do everything from the order I ate my food (from least favorite to favorite, vegetables first) to the right way to be a Christian. I thought God wanted me to do everything perfectly and was constantly afraid of failure. I repeatedly missed my own mark, failed to measure up to rules of my own design.
I carried this into adulthood.
I burdened myself with unrealistic rules and expectations to the point that fear of failure paralyzed me. Then I’d feel guilty. Then I’d feel guilty about feeling guilty. You get the idea.
I wrote last week about the transformative power of asking the flipside to my life’s haunting question. What if I asked not if I’m worth hating, but if I’m worth loving?
When I began to live my life as a Yes to the second question, everything changed.
I began to love myself. I began to believe that God might love me.
I found the true meaning of mercy: a compassion that forbears punishment even when justice demands it. Even when justice demands it.
I found a God that loves me even when I deserve punishment and smiting and consequences.
In my weaker moments, that question still haunts me. Am I worth hating?
But I’ve found that it no longer matters what that answer is. That answer is not the reality of who I am.
Regardless of where I’ve failed, God invites me into a new reality of love and being loved and loving others.
The answer no longer matters because I know that I am loved, even when I am worth hating.