It’s hard to see Jesus when you grow up in the church. At the end of this year, at 24, I saw him most clearly in J.
When you’ve heard the stories and truths your entire life it’s hard to imagine a world without Him. When you were saved at six years old it’s hard to grasp your inherent need for a Saviour. When forgiveness is almost second nature it’s hard to understand the revolutionary effect it has on your life.
I didn’t realize how powerful repentance was and how incredible forgiveness was until I experienced both, in a human relationship. I see Jesus most clearly in J, and maybe that’s a large factor in why I love him so much.
“When our repentance is at its deepest, the joy of our salvation is at its highest” - She Reads Truth
We need to understand repentance so that we know what we are being saved from. By failing to truly understand the power of repentance, I missed the fullness of the gospel. By failing to truly understand forgiveness, I missed my need for a Saviour.
I see it now.
I see it in J, in the way he accepted an apology from a truly repentant heart and moved on. Our relationship changed for the better, not the worse, because I was repentant and he was forgiving. And the hurt that happened in between has no hold over us anymore.
Is it not the same - and more - with God? Our mistakes and shortcomings only separate us from him for as long as we refuse to acknowledge them. But the moment we apologize - the moment we are truly repentant - He forgives us and moves on. Our relationship deepens, we recognize our need for His salvation, and instead of hurt filling our hearts we replace it with joy.
We don’t have to stay in the guilt of sin forever, but we do have to acknowledge it. We have to bear the consequences of our actions, but we don’t have to be defined by them. It’s uncomfortable in the moment, but that discomfort gives way to something beautiful: a new beginning.
The past is truly the past when grace is offered instead of shame.
I thought I knew grace from the ways I was challenged to respond to people in relationships, but I am learning so much more from the way J responds to and treats me. I put myself in his shoes and see all the reasons he could be filled with distrust or doubt or fear, but instead he overflows with love, forgiveness, and hope. And it’s so genuine, so undoubtedly honest, that I see grace and only grace could make that possible.
We throw around the words “grace”, “forgiveness”, and even “repentance” (when we’re feeling really theological) but this year I learned what they look like in real life. And for that I am so grateful.