Though in my full name the meaning of ‘goodness/kindness’ hides underneath, I could not have been the farthest from it. Only a week ago, I lived my whole life with irritation, outbursts of anger, selfishness and pride as my best friends.
Of course, I knew how to hide them. As you know, they aren’t the flashiest friends to openly hang out with. But they popped out inwardly whenever I had to deal with people. I was quick to find faults and prided in my ability to pick out one’s weaknesses. I acted humble, but I often spoke like a big, wise scholar.
But I was the worst to my family. I looked down on my parents’ ignorance, hated my sister’s weak heart and resented my brother’s endless need of attention. I would often speak like some kind of a professor that belittled their powerlessness. But in truth, I was the most vulnerable, enslaved by my own bitterness.
I hated how I had brought myself this far, but it felt like they had become what described the true me. Thus even when I nodded at the power of Christ, I doubted His power to truly make me see and change ‘how I was wired’.
Just like any other day, I was triggered. I stormed towards my mum and spoke words of hate. I didn’t cuss. I didn’t even say much. But the words that took only three seconds to spit out, hurt her more than ever.
The house soon took a shape of a vicious battle. Though what I had heard in return ached me, cynicism kicked in fast and wiped my tears away.
But in great grace, God led me to kneel down and pray. I knew what I had caused was tremendously evil, so I repented. But something just did not feel right, and I soon knew why. I wasn’t guilty for what I had just repented for.
I began to pray for my eyes to be opened. I laid down the years of my shiftless spiritual state and pleaded that God change me. I prayed for my heart to feel the pain that went on in my mother’s heart.
But God showed me His.
I didn’t suddenly speak in tongues, or feel a hot fire in my hand. I didn’t see a vision or have such supernatural experiences I believed I had to have in order to truly change.
All I got was an image. It was small, dark and blurry, but I recognised it immediately. It was a face of a dying man with a crown of thorns on his head. I had never seen a bloodier face. I had never even seen blood like that. Blood couldn’t be such a colour. Such a face that flooded with it could only belong to one person – Jesus.
It wasn’t like what I had seen in movies, or like I had imagined. It was worse than all of them added up together. He looked so, so, much in pain. But He was as still as a “sheep being led to the slaughter, or a lamb that is silent before her shearers” (Isaiah chapter 53, verse 7).
Purchased by His love
One could say it was just my imagination, a worked-up image because I deeply longed for one. But I know that there is nothing in me that would ‘deeply long’ for Him. I was too great of a sinner to truly hope for such a thing.
But out of mercy, God allowed me to repent that day like I had never done in a long, long time – perhaps, ever. Though it was blurry, the image felt so real I immediately felt terror. My whole body shook, as I knew the King of the universe had humbled Himself this far to purchase this slave of sin, of bitterness.
I begged and begged and begged. My mouth that was full of discomfort and judgement became a plea for mercy. My hands that pointed at others were clasped together in prayer. My legs that were so firmly planted to the ground to not yield in ways I did not desire, were folded and shaking.
“Oh, Jesus, oh Jesus.” was all I could say. I thought I was begging for His pain to cease, but I realized God was leading me to beg for forgiveness, as He was pierced for my transgressions and crushed for my iniquities. The punishment that brought me peace was on Him and by His wounds I was healed (Isaiah chapter 53, verse 5). I was bought and I was free, only because Christ paid the cost.
When Christ loved
From that night, great things changed. In everything I did, I felt His presence. Jesus’ cross seemed to be always before me, so I could not live another day in hate. He had loved us so much that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans chapter 5, verse 8).
How could I dare hate when Christ loved me so?
How could I dare hate a brother, a sister in Christ when He loved them so?
All my life, I thought I was simply ‘born sensitive’. But I had been born lacking in love. All my life, I lacked love, because I lacked God.
In the famous ‘chapter on love’ (1 Corinthians chapter 13), Paul describes how pointless great deeds, powers and gifts are if there is no love. In the first verse, he writes “If I speak in tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal”.
Oh, how I had ripped the ears and hearts of my family and others with my clanging! I acted wise and sought to do so much, but I had never loved them.
All of us know how Jesus answered when one asked what the greatest commandment was: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength…the second is…love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark chapter 12, verse 30-31).
God is love
But I noticed the order of this commandment. It is loving God first, then loving others, because “God is love” (1 John chapter 4, verse 8). Only when you are filled in love from and for God, can you love others.
Only Christ was able to show what true, selfless love was. Thus, only when I saw this true love, I could love, too.
I am slowly trying to rebuild my relationship with each of my family members. They have never looked so precious and beautiful. I cry each time I feel this way, as I cannot believe the times I had spent hating such precious children of God.
My flesh still is as weak and trouble and hardship will certainly trip me. But my trust is in the perfect love of Christ. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us…neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans chapter 8, verse 37-39).
Let us plunge in this unending love.
Let us love because He first loved us (1 John chapter 4, verse 19).
Sunny is as a weak as a broken reed, a flickering candle. But Abba God shows His abundant mercy again and again by incredibly loving this hopeless being. Soli deo Gloria.