"You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser,
You gotta be hard, You gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger..."- Des'ree
If I've mentioned it once, I've mentioned it a dozen times: I struggle with legalism.
If brains had filing cabinets, mine would have at least two drawers dedicated to the rules and obligations I must keep to maintain a contract for correct behavior. It would list in thorough terms, the expectations of a wife, sister, friend, coworker, boss, and other roles I play, and would detail the results of breaking any line of said contract. For example, if line 257 were broken, which states, "A wife must maintain a clean and orderly house at all times and be able and willing to host any event be it small or large," I would endure a litany of self loathing punishments. It's a terrible state of being.
I'm not sure when it began, but I suspect the roots began as a child. I was a quiet and sensitive child, quickly becoming very empathetic. I learned early on, that people liked me more if I was nice and quiet rather than mean and loud. So I determined observed my surroundings and then adjusted to the standards of each person's definition of good and bad.
When I initially met Christ for the first time, I knew I needed a Savior. I was in the first grade and the idea seemed simple to understand. Someone die because I had sinned? It hurt me to think of my actions causing pain. Why wouldn't I align myself with Him?
But what started out pure and uninhibited, became tainted.
I remember thinking about the standards of Christianity as a teenager on my way back from a Christian music festival. While at the retreat, I noticed that people knew more scripture and more of the popular Christian music than I did. Well, I determined that after rededicating my life to Christ, I needed to show them I too knew the same stuff they did. I went home and preset a Christian station on my radio and determined a Bible reading plan to dismantle my naivete.
I look back at that determination and secretly admire that passion. Even then, the creeping roots of legalism had begun to distort my faith and my understanding of myself. It wasn't until I graduated college that I began to understand that I was missing something very, very important: The Meaning of Grace.
Join me tomorrow as I share how I began to wake up and realize that something was not quite right about my perspective. Day Three: Disjointed Grace