It's Been A Horrible Summer


Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

I'm currently sitting on the floor of my room, surrounded by boxes, and more piles of clothes my minimalist-wannabe heart wants to admit I own. It's a pretty good reflection of how chaotic my mind and heart feels right now. I thought of titling this post something a bit more poetic - but you know that point of exhaustion you reach sometimes where just the barest, simplest explanation is all you can muster? Yeah. That's me right now. And it has been a horrible summer. 

Heartache. Emptiness. Loneliness. Sickness. Selfishness. Weariness. I've felt them all in these past few months. Sometimes one at a time, sometimes all at once. And if I was going to put a poetic title on this post, it would probably sound something like, "WHO AM I NOW". I'm not the same Beth I used to be. I hurt. I ache. I'm tired. So much pain, everywhere. And no one thing is the cause but rather a thousand things at once, many out of my control and a few very selfish things that were very much in my control. A butterfly effect of misery, honestly. And still, God is faithful. Still, through it all, I hear the words whispered to my heart.

Oh, darling. You're already forgiven.

A few days ago, I had spent most of the morning rehashing each and every mess up I had made personally, and in my faith, over the past few months. Like a movie reel on repeat - Beth Atkinson Starring in: Colossal Failure, which had quickly turned into a double feature - Colossal Failure II. I'm sure they'll be working on yet another a sequel soon.

How could I be this person? How did I get here? How many more mistakes is it going to take? I was acutely aware that I had failed. That I was unworthy.

But - "Oh darling. You're already forgiven." stopped me in my tracks. Lord? What do you mean I'm already forgiven? 

Isn't that cheating? Don't I deserve to pay a penance?

You've already been forgiven. The price has already been paid. 

After all this time - after everything I've learned in my own life, in church, through this blog - I have realized that I still don't understand grace. I needed that reminder. Yes, I had confessed my sin. Yes, I was doing my darndest to move forward and cling to the cross any way that I could. Yet I still felt like I needed to be punished. Over and over. That I should just give up and wallow in all my self pity and shame, and be doomed to pay for my mistakes no matter how much time passed or how often I had repented.

Dearest. If that's you today - you need to know. Forgiveness is free. God's love covers over every part of you. His grace is sufficient. And once you belong to Him - there's nothing you can do to remove yourself from his arms. You aren't stuck where you are. Let the gospel remind you that once you ask for genuine forgiveness - it's yours. Slate clean. 

Stop beating yourself up. It's gonna be hard. It will require work, it will require sacrifice. But that's the glorious path. You've made the commitment to become so much more than what you are on your own. And trust me - from a gal who is exceptional at trying to be better on her own - you're never going to do it. No matter how far you've gone, you can always come back. No place is too dark or too broken or too scarred to be changed and made into a new, holy, beautiful thing. You think your secret wasn't known before time began? You think that your shame is too big? The price was paid a long time ago. You don't have to carry the weight of it all anymore.

Because, darling, forgiveness is yours. All you've ever needed to do is ask. 

I Am An Idiot About 100% Of The Time | Phil Miller


In the six years that I’ve been walking with God I’ve learned many lessons, gone through personal growth, and received plenty of grace for the times I forget who I am in Christ.  Over this past year, if there’s one thing that I can point out as the most important thing He’s taught me - is that I’m an idiot about 100% of the time and the He loves me anyway.  

It’s funny how the Christian walk goes.  At first thought you’d think that the longer a person has known Christ, the more he/she would feel like a saint.  But in reality, in my own experience, the more that I’ve grown to know God, His Word, and myself, the more I realize how crappy I am as a person.  In the first couple of years after becoming a Christian, my arrogance and pride made it super easy to trick myself into thinking God had made me into a perfect person already.  I elevated myself over others, acted like I knew everything, and wasn’t real with how horrible I actually was.  

But the more I got to know the Bible, the more my knowledge of sin increased and, little by little, I realized how much of an actual loser I am on my own.  

With all of this self-realization happening over the last couple years, I had a real hard time struggling with guilt and doubt.  I came to the point where I found it really easy to believe that God would forgive and love others, but never actually believed He would forgive me for my sins after committing to follow Him.  I would find myself sitting in my own self-pity, wondering if I’d ever “get back” to the good old Phil I was when I first decided to follow Jesus.  That was until I God caught my attention through a guy named Paul in Romans 7.  

God taught me that even though I am a believer, I will still struggle with sin since I still live in the flesh.  Super encouraging, huh?  Well, where the amazing part comes in is in the truth that immediately follows this passage: no matter how badly I mess up, I can’t do anything that takes away what Jesus did for me (Romans 8:1).  

God’s made it abundantly clear to me that it is because of His doing that I have the privilege of knowing Him through His Son (John 6:37).  Since it is because of Him that I can be a child of God, it is because of Him that I continue to be one even in my shortcomings.  I suck at being a decent person on my own, but God still calls me His own no matter how I’m feeling.  So moving forward I now know that it is important to remember who I am and what I know.  I am no longer the Phil I once was (Galatians 2:20), but am new.  And even when I feel stuck in a rut, God hasn’t given up on me (Philippians 1:6).  Grace over sin.