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I have a great life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of struggles and pain, but compared to most people’s life experience after 26 years, mine is fairly charmed.

I couldn’t have asked for a better family. I have always had a close relationship with my parents and three brothers. Mom and Dad are stable, modeled a healthy, loving relationship to me, gave me boundaries, discipline, and love and, most importantly, taught me about the things of God…. And they continue to do all of those things.

[pullquoteleft]”It’s a horribly frustrating thing having the knowledge that you “know better”[/pullquoteleft]
I have been a Christian basically for as long as I can remember. I “officially” asked Christ to be a part of my life at the tender age of 5, but I can’t tell you that this event marked a major turning point from a life of reckless sin. My journey has been much more subtle. I’ve experienced gradual steady change, as rock that has been smoothed by the rush of fast current over the years.

I grew up in Rochester, MN in an upper-middle income neighborhood where I have never known hunger or want.

I have had the opportunity to go to college, get a great education, to maintain employment, and generally have been able to do what American’s strive for – Pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. I have been given the gift a great husband, who is my partner and best friend.

So, consider this list of wonderful blessings I have been given. Would it surprise you to know that I am still a moral failure?

Despite all of this……I have still managed to screw it up. Despite all this I have still managed to make self-serving, morally deprecating, integrity marring choices.

It’s a horribly frustrating thing having the knowledge that you “know better”, but you still continue to make bad choices, making the same mistakes over and over. I even find myself at times envying those people’s stories who can say, at one point in their life, they did not know better, then they found Christ, and they did, and they changed their ways.

I must live with the fact that all of my failings have been under the full knowledge of what Christ has done for me and full knowledge of the way I ought to live. I have been given the gifts and knowledge that should lead to right decision making. I cannot claim I didn’t know, that I made them under duress, or that I was under such hardship I had nowhere to turn. No, the only thing I can say is that “I knew better, and I’ve ALWAYS known better.”

Because of this, I have often found myself bogged down in the muck of guilt and shame. When I look at my life, and my choices, particularly the bad ones, I only have one person to blame… me. I find myself asking, how can God continue to love, accept, and forgive me when I make choices against him with FULL knowledge of that choice? [pullquoteright]I often think God must feel about me like I feel about the “annoying neighborhood kid.” [/pullquoteright]

I often think God must feel about me like I feel about the “annoying neighborhood kid.” You know, the kid who comes over unwelcome, who is too loud, who terrorizes your dog, who gets your kids into trouble. You love this kid in the sense that you wish them no ill will, but your relationship is marked with constant, mild annoyance.

But I’ve found this is far from the truth. This belief is what keeps me from doing Christ’s work and putting my faith into action.

Instead I must focus my energy on the things I have learned and how Christ continues to transform me.

God has transformed me through the blessings, and then, through the consequences of taking Christ and those blessing for granted. When I think through my life choices, I discover that my biggest regrets, my worst decisions, and my deepest pain have been the things that have been my greatest springboards to drastic change for the better. The negative experience of pain never fails to refocus my life on Christ, bringing Him back to center, thus taking the focus off myself which is what ALWAYS gets me into to trouble.

God has also transformed me by giving me understanding and compassion for other’s circumstances. I have come to know that things are not always what they seem, all people are capable of evil, most things are not black and white, life situations are complex. This realization makes it difficult to judge others… instead God has filled me with empathy for people and what they go through, whether the problems are of their own making or not.

Finally, God has transformed me by giving me a passion for serving. I have been given much, and therefore much is required of me. Instead of letting this be my burden, it is my greatest joy. I have two choices – I can let myself be bogged down in regret and guilt, or I can let Christ free me saying, “that was then, this is now, you’re loved, now get out there and help change lives.” Service not only helps change lives and communities, is also incredibly healing. It is what has most helped me move on and do the work of Christ.

So I do have a great life! Not just because of the blessings I have been given, but because of the grace I’ve experienced from a patient God, Who loves me, died for me, and teaches me daily what it means to really LIVE!

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