God Stories: Susanna
God Stories is a weekly segment where people from every possible location on the spectrum of faith tells the story of how they got there. They do not necessarily represent the views of the blog as a whole. If you would like to share your story, please see the submission guidelines here.
Hello, My name is Susanna Just, and I'm a recovering religious, judgmental Christian and my native tongue is Christianese.
I actually grew up with the last name Christian. It is my maiden name. It was my identity before I knew it carried greater meaning.
When I think about the journey of my faith, I realize how much the beginning of my life was spent in religion and not true faith. As a professing Christian I'm supposed to put my faith in what Jesus has done for me on the cross, but for so many years I identified as a Christian by striving for perfection all the time, putting my faith in what I could do to be worthy of such a sacrifice. I guess this isn't really faith at all. The level of fear this created was insane. The standard I had set for myself was so high that I had to be a fraud to even appear to meet it. I'm embarrassed to think of the "witness" I must have been to the world. It's hard to be known by your love when fear is taking over. But it was all I knew. So I just kept trying harder.
Until life outdid my broken formula.
Long story short, all my "goodness" wasn't enough to make God answer my prayers to heal my mom of cancer.
And all my devotion to the faith didn't stop my miscarriage a couple years later.
To say that I was angry is an understatement. For a while I didn't have the guts to be angry at God so I took it out on the ones closest to me. My precious girls got the worst of me in those early years. I was unraveling at the seams. I wasn't just grieving the loss of my mom and child, but of everything I thought to be true. I honestly tried to walk away from my faith at this point because God had failed me. I didn't know how to resolve the conflict between what I believed and my current reality.
The road was messy for a long time. Shoot, I think it still is. But no matter how much I tried to walk away, I just couldn't. His love is stubborn. I couldn't deny all the good God had done in my life. I couldn't deny His gentle whisper wooing me back. It's like He wasn't intimidated by my mess. I hadn't known that side of God before. He was just...there. Waiting for me, patiently. This is when my real journey of faith began. I was finally broken. I was ready to be the mess I really was. His grace met me there. It was no longer about religion for Him but a relationship with Him. No longer a conditional contract but an unconditional covenant.
There are not enough words to tell the many ways He has revealed Himself to me. Some of them are so silly and personal, it's embarrassing. His whisper is real. The more I'm learning to trust it, the more I am able to trust Him in the times of silence. After experiencing His grace time and time again in my raw realness, I began to find Love moving in more and more. Fear really does go when Love comes in. It's the most free and alive I have ever been. And it's new every morning.
So now I am a beautiful mess. This...I can do well.