by Joanie Butman
During our recent girls’ outing, the conversation eventually circled back to our younger days as it usually does. Every time I’m with my childhood friends something from my past surfaces that stuns me. They all seem to remember a lot more about me than I do – and none of it complimentary. The leather bustier they swear I wore is a perfect example. I don’t care what they say, unless one of them can produce a photo, I’m not buying it. Whether it’s selective memory or simply old age is a mystery, but the person they describe shocks me. “What was I thinking?” seemed to be the theme that weekend as a particularly egregious evening from our late teens was re-enacted in excruciating detail. If there weren’t seven witnesses, I’d be tempted to think they were making stuff up. Thank goodness my antics played out prior to social media. Plausible deniability still reigned supreme during our era.
Spiritually speaking, plausible deniability never works, though that fact never stopped anyone from trying. God sees it all – the good, the bad and the ugly. Yet, He loves us anyway. That truth never ceases to amaze me. This certainty is something worth remembering, and I can’t be reminded often enough because it is even harder to fathom than me in a leather bustier!
The biggest, and maybe the best, difference between the lifelong friendship I enjoy with The Insuranettes and the eternal friendship I share with Jesus is that He has a worse memory than me. Even though Christ knows all my transgressions, once I surrender them to Him, they are forgiven and forgotten. Psalm 103:12 reminds us that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Blessedly, Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf extends even to the sins I can’t or choose not to remember. And, of course, there are those I’m not even aware of making. The spiritual oblivion I was in for decades enabled me to gloss over a multitude of questionable choices.
Tim Keller sums up the Gospel beautifully and succinctly: “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” When God is reviewing my life, it will be through the lens of the finished works of Christ. There will be no cringing, only gratitude for God’s ability to take every bad decision I ever made and weave them into something beautiful – a lifelong process of becoming the woman He created me to be. I may not have been doing a lot of clear thinking in my youth, but thankfully God’s providence and protection saved me from myself.
As tempting as it may be, there’s no denying the litany of bad choices in my past, but choosing to accept Christ’s invitation of love and mercy more than makes up for decades of What Was I Thinking? moments. If that’s the only wise choice I make in life, it will be enough. I, too, need to view my life through the lens of Christ. It’s usually only in hindsight that we gain the clarity to recognize the lessons He was teaching every step of the way. So what have I learned? To trust God always - in all ways.