Hellfire and damnation. That’s almost all I remember from growing up in a church in the bible belt. That and the pettiness among church members.
The bible belt. Known for a church on every corner in the towns and cities and every few miles in the country.
The only whisper of grace I ever heard was when Amazing Grace was sang.
“Yes God loves you but you need to be perfect.” At least that’s how I perceived the messages I heard as a shy, timid, insecure child. Add in an unhealthy dose of perfectionism and I never felt good enough.
I’m not saying this is how everything was preached or taught. For me the hellfire and damnation part flashed like a neon sign on the Vegas strip blinding to anything else. I don’t blame anyone for any of this. Our memories from childhood tint our outlook on things with childlike eyes. It’s only into adulthood can we look back and see those experiences objectively.
Through those child tinted memories I saw God’s love as conditional. I had to be perfect for God to love me.
So I tried. Eventually I realized trying to be perfect was suffocating me.
Somewhere along this journey of giving up on perfection I finally discovered grace.
He shows me his grace in the smallest ways and sometimes larger ways. When I hear my son singing his own made up songs as he gets ready for bed — grace. When a message from a friend thanks me for sharing this faith journey — grace. I mess up once again yet he covers me with peace — grace. When he gives me words to write — grace.
I’m learning to be mindful and thankful for each grace. Eucharisteo.
No need for perfection.
Accepting his grace. And in it discovering his love.