In Sunday School I had been taught that the most important prayer I could ever say, the secret handshake to being accepted and loved by God, went something along the lines of: “Jesus, forgive me for my sins…please come into my heart.” I was told that if I did not say this prayer, that I would end up in Hell, and the idea of Hell scared me! I already knew some people who were going there, because my pastor had taken past members of the church and used them as an example of hell-bound folk that even this prayer couldn’t save.
I would say this prayer over and over, hoping I said it correctly and that God knew I meant it…And then I’d talk to my chest and I would say, “Jesus are you there? Did I do it right that time? Are you in my heart?”
There was never an answer. I was so afraid he didn’t hear me! So I would say it again…
But he heard me.
Yesterday I was walking home from the store and I saw a homeless man holding a sign. I have a heart for my homeless brothers and sisters out there surviving. I always try to stop and speak with them….sometimes people become unaccustomed to kindness and it’s amazing what difference you can make in someone’s day simply by speaking to them and looking them in the eye….I used to be in a position to help more than I am currently in, in fact, I’m frighteningly aware that my own homelessness is not far in the rear-view mirror, and not more than a couple unexpected expenses away.
“This is all I have.” I said as I handed him a Gatorade, feeling disappointed that was all I could share with him. He was an elderly gentleman, his weather worn face hiding underneath his beard. He took the Gatorade from me and said, “God loves you.”
I needed to hear that.
I know he does. I know that now. He loves all of us. Its loving ourselves that can be challenging, when we find ourselves not living up to our own expectations...or falling short of who we feel we should be.