The sink trembles beneath my hands and my eyes roll up to the mirror until they meet their reflection, a hinged gaze, about to fall, about to drop into a stomach that boils and calls the night into my veins.
“You’re going to regret this,” I tell my eyes. “You’re going to regret this.”
I obeyed my parents growing up. They won’t agree with me but, compared to a lot of other kids I knew, I was obedient.
When I was younger, my parents told me that I could only have one friend at a time on the trampoline with me. One evening, I had a group of friends come over and they wanted to all go on the trampoline. I told them we couldn’t because my parents said so. But my parents weren’t home so they wouldn’t know. As my friends all jumped on the trampoline, I sat on the side, rubbing together my bare summer feet.
The reason why I obeyed my parents was not because I wanted to earn their love. It wasn’t to earn my place in their home. I have a good relationship with my parents and I know that they already love me, unconditionally. That’s why I obey them.
A common misconception about Christianity, about my faith, is that we believe we must earn God and His love, we must earn our place in Heaven. Friends often assure me, “You’re a good person. Plus, you go to church and you pray,” as though being a Christian is complying to a list of do’s and don’ts – doing ‘good things’ all to get God’s approval and a ticket into Heaven. But that’s not what the Bible teaches and Christians shouldn’t believe that.
I can’t earn God’s love, just like how I can’t earn my parents’ love. Romans 3:20 says, “For no one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what His law commands. For the more we know God’s law, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying it.”
It’s clear to me, when I gossip, when I’m ungrateful, when I’m drunk on, well, definitely not the Holy Spirit, and I’m swaying in front of a bathroom mirror and then crouching over the bathtub as my friend prods the drain with a toilet plunger (“Looks like you’re getting your 5-a-day”), that I’m not good. Not by God’s standards. Not by “His law.” I don’t love other people as much as I love myself. I don’t take care of my body in the way that God wants me to.
But the good thing is, God forgives, over and over again. I’m grateful that Christianity is not about being a good person. If it was, I would totally fail. I think my fellow Christians would agree. As Savvy said in one of her recent blog posts, “I don’t want to go to church today,” we’re all “broken human beings.” But that’s okay because God is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15).
By choosing to follow Him, I choose to put my trust in His goodness, not my own.