Why It Was Hard To Accept Christ
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Why It Was Hard To Accept Christ

Struggling to accept his love.

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Why It Was Hard To Accept Christ
Topalski

I would tell myself that I wasn’t fit to follow Christ; there were so many people who knew all about it and did it better than me. I didn’t know the books of the bible or how to pray or if I even had faith. But I wanted to, have and know all of those things and surely others out there could tell me how. I read theologians and preachers, commentaries and analyses. How do I accept Christ, what does that mean? How will I know when I’ve done it? Do I pray on my knees or on my feet? How should I address God? Did I forget anything? Should I say more than one kind of prayer? Should I start with an apology in my prayers or praise? Am I wrong to watch so many programs that have profanity? Am I taking too long to absorb this concept? Experiencing God seemed more like a political dance than a personal relationship.

I thought I was doing the right thing. I told myself it was good to learn about God; the more I knew the less afraid I’d be. I’d be able to accept him without delay. But every book I'd check out from the school library, every discussion, while insightful would also be an excuse, another reason to tell myself I wasn’t ready, that I still had work to do before I could call myself a believer of Christ, much less invite Him to reside within me.

My heart seemed in a constant state of disrepair. Some chambers were tender and others hard stone. His grace clanks against the stones of mistrust, the ones that say I can’t just jump into anything willy-nilly. The ones that warn me about pain and failure, the insecurities that have comforted me for so long, however cruelly. The tender regions yearn for purpose and recognition, love and understanding, for security and acceptance, and pulsate in reach of God's grace but kept back by their cemented counterparts.

I thought, how could I possibly do it? How many times have I tried, and how many times did I fail? Back and forth, up and down, this way and that. It's clear: I'm just not made for this.

I'd end up "taking a break from God", which translates to me believing it safer to stay where I was rather than chase Him and fall. I'd want to. Know I should. But I wouldn't, and didn't believe I could. I couldn't face the sins of my flesh: the feeling of annoyance when reading the Bible when I'd rather been reading something else; having to force myself to pray at night when I was tired or in the morning when I couldn't find my shoes. I shouldn't feel that way, and to feel it in God's presence, looking at his Word, speaking to Him as if He were right in front of me...it only magnified my shame. The pursuit for my own acceptance of Jesus looked like a steep climb with the top left to imagination and wishful thinking. I was convinced I’d be one of those people in John Milton’s Purgatory who’d accept Christ on their deathbed. There was nothing left to do accept wait for myself to reach that point; not death per se, but when all the muck clogging my heart was washed away...until a 5 minute conversation that blew me away.

It was the end of the semester and I had just finished my Faith, Culture, and the Arts final: a speech telling what you learned about God or faith in general. Mine was an important realization about not segregating God to only one part of your life, leaving a new task to tackle on not doing that. I told my friend as she walked to her car, and me, to my next final, how this new task seemed impossible. I'd put God in the part of my life that mattered the most to me: my work, but as wrong as it was, I didn't believe my craving for acknowledgement and worth in accomplishment to disappear any time soon. But my friend told me that that was okay: Maybe a part of you will always feel like that, but you don't have to do anything to accept Christ, she said. He already loves you the way you are, and He'll accept you the way you are. Sins and all.

And I was struck. All this time, I’ve been acting as if accepting Jesus were the end of my journey instead of its beginning. I don’t have to change in order to accept Christ. It’s after I accept Christ that I begin to change.


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