My Mepkin journaling group is listening/journaling our way through Following the Mystics Through the Narrow Gate, a conference that was recorded. This month's segment was a 25 minute talk by Father Richard Rohr. The most compelling part of the segment, on the Wednesday in October when I listened, was Rohr's idea about how we feel we must prove ourselves, over and over again, and get ever and ever better. He posits that this need of overproving of ourselves is part of Western culture, not Christian culture.
I had that idea on the brain as I closed my morning watch, the morning devotion time that I do each morning on my church's Facebook page. I always say a few sentences, a benediction of sorts, after the closing prayer. Yesterday, I talked about how God loves us just as we are, that God's not waiting for us to change. God delights in us--God's not waiting until we transform ourselves into something else. After all, God made us the way we are.
I shifted my computer a bit to show the quilts on the bed behind me. I said that I loved them--of course I do. After all, I chose the fabric and sewed it together. I'm not disappointed with the quilts because they don't have pink fabric--if I had wanted them to have pink fabric, I'd have included it. I'm not waiting for the quilts to develop their inner pinkness before I love them.
Likewise, God does not say, "I would love you so much more if you could just become a more patient person. I would love you so much more if you would cut down on your drinking. I would love you so much more if you gave 3% more of your income to charity. Do those things, and then I will love you fully."
In fact, Richard Rohr would tell us that God loves us so that we can change, not if we change. But any self-hatred we feel is not God's voice. God's love opens us to possibility--and it's why saints don't become cynics (Rohr's approximate words).
It seems like such a basic idea, and yet it's so hard for me to believe it, to live it. It's an idea I return to again and again in my writing and my preaching/devotion work. Sadly, the idea that God loves us, that God's not passing harsh judgment on us--this idea isn't one that's preached widely enough.
And that's sad, because that should be the central message of the Christian church--we found it woven throughout our sacred texts. Would that we proclaimed it more loudly.