Right now, my life verse is John 1:16, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given,” or in another translation, says “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace”

In the scriptures, there was a first kind of grace given to Adam and Eve. Then another kind of grace given to Abraham. Another, given to Moses, and then Jesus, who completed the grace. But then there is also “grace upon grace,” which I like to think of as grace on top of grace. More-than-enough grace.

This is important to me, because I grew up in a Christian home. I first asked Jesus into my heart when I was four years old (I think it was at a tent revival? I’ll have to ask my mom). I know the pressure to be perfect, and the very real shame when my imperfections are discovered. The very real fear after every sin that I was going lose God’s approval. The fear of being one of those dreaded backsliders. My teen years were full of questions (and crying) about if I was really saved. How would I know when I still mess up, and feel unworthy to be close to Jesus?

So I tried to give God some distance, like a relationship that wasn’t working out. I thought I could work out my issues by myself and meet him back at church when I felt okay again. It felt like if I got away for a little while, I wouldn’t be so ashamed of myself. That was the lie.

Instead, the further I got from him… Sure, I gave myself permission to continue in those bad patterns I was forming, but it didn’t make me feel free. Instead, I felt more lonely, more depressed, and more ashamed.

This is what I wish I had known back then.

No one is ever worthy to be close to God, and no one ever feels worthy. I still don’t feel worthy, but I stopped letting that stop me, because grace never runs out.

I am still trying to find new ways to connect with God, because life changes. My family was a huge spiritual support system that I just don’t have anymore, and the more I learn and mature, the more questions I have about the Bible and the Church. But when I started pursuing God in the middle of my mess, although I expected to feel guilt and shame, I felt loved instead.

This isn’t a closed chapter in my story – I’m still in the middle of my mess. I’m not saying that I have this figured out. I am certainly not perfect yet, but I’m learning that perfect isn’t the point.