Until I became an adult, most of the authority figures in my life misused their authority with me. As a result, I became a cynical pessimist who grew to distrust everyone.
Growing up, I was passed around among relatives. At one point, I lived with my grandmother who was a newly converted Evangelist. She’d gone from being a full flesh religious Catholic (you know, the kind that believe their religion is the only one God approves of) to becoming an almost fanatic Evangelist.
She intended well, I can understand that now. But at the time, I felt she used God primarily as a means to intimidate my siblings and me into obedience (first, towards her and then towards God), to the point of not sending us to school for the entire time that we were under her care because-in her opinion-it was much more important that we learn about God’s wrath and what would happen if we didn’t do things the way she believed He intended.
Her primary responsibility was to prepare us for the rapture that was bound to happen at any given moment and if we didn’t want to stay behind, we better do exactly as she instructed.
She seldom spoke of the Lord’s love and mercy for us, she spoke of Him as a vengeful omnipotent entity who only kept tally of our wrong doings so He could punish us accordingly when the time came. My guess is she figured fear would keep us in line better than love would and I hope it was that she didn’t know any better rather than she actually believed that.
But if fear of God was what she intended, she succeeded well at it! I remember having nightmares in which I’d see God and he was so angry at me, that I was terrified of Him even in my dreams! My siblings felt no differently. We were so afraid of God that the moment we were taken from her, most of us estranged ourselves from her, and from Him, as best as we could!
For me, in particular, because of the apprehension I’d developed when it came to trusting authority figures, God became another authority figure who was after me and who I couldn’t trust, either. So, I avoided Him and lived hiding from Him for as long as I could.
Being the gracious God that He is, he continued blessing me through that phase of my life, anyway, but most of that time, I failed to see His goodness all around me. Instead, I usually saw the bad things that happened to me of a reminder that He was, in fact, still keeping score and I resented Him for it.
I focused so much on blaming Him for the negative experiences that I failed to see the blessings He kept sending my way and I seldom appreciated the really good things in life; like sunrises, rainy days, and beautiful spring mornings.
Now, that I know better, I do better and I try to make up for the ungratefulness that filled my heart back then. I take the time to make it a point to take in all of the good things I failed to appreciate all of those years. I find that it’s good for my soul when I do so.
If ever I need encouragement or just a reminder of God’s love for the world, my favorite place to be is the sea. Its greatness reminds me that for God, nothing is impossible and that no one is exempt from his love, no matter where in the world we are.
I’m blessed to live only twenty minutes away from this:
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.-Jacques Costeau
I hope that wherever you are, it’s sunny and beautiful, and that you feel God’s love, too.