If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know that I write about a varied number of topics. I say that I focus on parenting, but any parent will tell you that being a parent doesn’t just mean you talk about your kids all the time. This is why sometimes you see posts about my kids, about my trials as a mother, a recipe or two and maybe even something about my city. I am a mom and I am made up of many different layers.
That being said, today I am going to dive a little more into the part of me that is made up of (or at least hopes in) faith in Jesus. Even more, I want to talk about the word “sanctification”, a topic that I am absolutely not qualified to explain. But I need to work through it and writing is the best way for me to get that done. Feel free to come along for the ride.
A quick look into my journey of faith will show you that while I have chosen to be a Christ-Follower, I do a remarkably lousy job at it. My husband and I often talk about our hearts and wonder why they are not where they “ought” to be. There seems to be a disconnect between our very real and legitimate “salvation” and our daily living. What we are discovering is that the disconnect is the process of sanctification (or in my case the lack thereof).
Here’s what I mean. For almost all of my Christian life I have had a real problem with the “do’s and don’ts” of Christianity. It seemed like we were being told to earn God’s love when the Bible clearly states that salvation is a gift and no one can earn it because no one COULD earn it. It would be impossible. Humans are by nature flawed and no one deserves the kind of grace that offers absolute forgiveness and unconditional love. It has been really hard for me to not feel oppressed by the commandments to love my neighbors and give of myself and sacrifice, not because I might not do those things once in a while, but because I didn’t understand why they were commands. Why am I being told to do something while at the same time being told that there is nothing I can do but accept a gift?
As I started to look for a way to define Sanctification here, I found that many people agree that it’s really a 3 part process. First is actually the conversion/salvation experience, followed by living a life open and ready for change (letting go of bad habits etc) and finally the ultimate change when the Lord returns and we are all made pure once and for all.
Even though I believe these 3 things, just typing that last part made me nervous. This is because I have been living my life in between stages 1 and 2. That is, I believe that I have salvation, but I don’t really think that I am changed by it.
And this is where the “do’s and don’ts” come back around. Instead of wondering why I don’t feel a certain pull or calling to help this or that person, or feel oppressed by all the things a “good Christian woman” should be doing, I need to focus on the whole point of salvation in the first place. I am not choosing this life to be considered a good Christian woman. I am choosing it because life apart from the love of God is intolerable. I speak from experience.
So it doesn’t make sense for me to come to the realization that I need God’s love in my life and stop there. I can stop there and honestly, I have, for so many years, just stopped at the knowledge that God loves me. I am thankful for that and I trust it. So it does not make sense that I would simply stop at knowing His love. Sanctification is receiving it and being softened by His love. It’s not doing xyz and getting to the finish line. It’s enjoying the process. It’s getting flowers and responding with a smile and a kiss of gratitude. It’s responding by being so grateful for the flowers that I want to show someone else what it is like to feel that special.
It’s responding. Period.
Isn’t it interesting that I, a woman at the age of 33 who was raised in a Christian home and a great God-loving church, is really really just now coming to this conclusion? I think that is because no matter what our background, we are all on the same journey. We all start with broken hearts. We all have issues to deal with and we all need to get from point A to point B in our own time and let’s be honest, theology is HARD. It fights with what our instincts tell us because we are built for survival.
As a parent and more specifically as a mom to young boys, I spend my days in survival mode. I am treading water. I am getting through. I am making it. It doesn’t feel natural to let love change me because I feel too overwhelmed with my striving to survive that I can’t see the beauty in it.
Sanctification teaches me to thrive.
Thriving is a gift. A true gift! It’s not an oppressive list of do’s and don’ts. It is simply another way for God to show me that salvation is not just about getting into heaven. It is and has always been about walking with me and carrying me through life so that I may have joy. True joy and freedom from oppression.
I think being a Christian is about to get a lot better.