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How does God love us when we are so ordinary?

How does God love us when we are so ordinary? We know we are far from perfect: not as hard-working, caring, or sensible as we ought to be. There are lots of things we don't like about ourselves. But we know our strengths and take pride in them, supposing that we choose to be this way... only to find out later in life that our 'hero' qualities are just natural traits for our personality type, and other people would have to try very hard to do what comes easily for us. "Do not judge, so that you may not be judged", warned Jesus. This seems to be aimed precisely at this self-righteous spirit, where we think other people should find it easy to do or be what comes naturally to us. We know our flaws, but only some of them, and some we even consider to be strengths! We can 'spin' any fault as a positive trait: cowardice as 'caution', sloth as 'self-care', bossiness as 'leadership', gossip as 'caring', overspending as 'generosity', meanness as 'frugality', aggression as 'setting boundaries', judging as 'perception', cruelty as 'discipline', arrogance as 'confidence', pride as 'dignity', envy as 'victimhood', and neglect as 'conflict avoidance'. It is a bit harder to reframe lust and hatred as strengths, but it can be done, as war-time rhetoric and atrocities attest. Such self-deception is what allows us to say "I am a pretty good person" and "I don't need God to be good". How easily and endlessly we justify ourselves! "The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it?" observed the prophet Jeremiah (17:9). Those chronic persistent sins that we bring to communion (or perhaps we are reminded of as we recite the confession) are the greatest challenge in our spiritual lives. We always wonder, don't we, how God forgives us every week for the same sins? When the priest pronounces absolution there is relief and yet we know this sin or failing is a habit that we have not repented of, one that we (and those we hurt) have suffered from for years. We know we will still have that same failing in mind during confession next week, next month, next year. Lord have mercy. And yet are things really so bleak and hopeless? We ask again, How does God love us despite all of this self-deception and self-justification? And not just us, but everyone, even our enemies, despite their bad habits and poor choices? (ones that we don't have and would never make, of course!) God loved us all from the beginning, not only for what we are (our created 'natural' qualities) but for what we can become. He loves us for our desire for truth and goodness and our genuine efforts to find it. He loves us for our flashes of honesty and humility, for our courage in suffering, and the times when we choose to do no harm when we could easily hurt others. He loves us for our faith, even a little faith, because "All things can be done for the one who believes" (Mark 9:23). The risen Lord sends the Spirit of Truth to teach us to be selfless. The Spirit is not always kind, and often prunes us very hard, but how else to transform our proud belligerent spirits into the humble contrite spirits that God longs to see? Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account. (Heb 4:12-13)

Deb Hurn

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