Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Never Trust a Preacher Who Won’t Drink Beer
(and unrealistic standards I held myself to…)

While not a truism, the title is a tongue-in-cheek observation from my own life. I’m not trying to say ministers must drink, or even that they should, nor am I forbidding the practice altogether… In all actuality, the statement is a metaphor for my own life.
The majority of my life was lived according to a set of rules I ratified for myself. These standards were far more stringent and unforgiving than most would willingly set for themselves. In my world, there were absolute rights and absolute wrongs; I worked hard to keep myself out of the gray areas. The problem with those rigid regulations is that I inadvertently held everyone else to them as well…and life in and of itself is a gray area.
If I never messed up, I never needed forgiveness. If I never needed forgiveness, I never needed to give it to others – because everyone else, like me, should know better.
I remember first becoming aware of this phenomenon in a conversation with a close friend; I remember outright apologizing for being such a complete, inaccessible, impossible…well…bitch. It’s not a pretty word, but accurately illustrates my behavior. In holding on to my own levitical law, I denied my need for grace. While this was never a conscious decision, this thought process was so ingrained into my being that it became second nature. My heart hardened against the giving and receiving of grace.
Of course, if I didn’t “need” grace, I acted as though I were above the law of love – and no one is exempt from redemption – most of all, me. It took a spectacular head-first dive into the proverbial empty pool of life to knock me to my senses. My extreme independence, which I once felt was a strength, revealed itself as an overpowering weakness. A glorious weakness.
2nd Corinthians 12:9 reminds me that God’s grace is all I need. His power works best in my weakness. Now, I’m proud to boast about what I once feared the most – my glorious weakness. Then, and only then, can Christ work through me. It’s comforting to know the ones I’ve needed the most have been there all along. It’s a blessing to share laughter over our faults and failures...and the occasional beer.

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