Life is an ocean, and I’m treading water. To stay afloat, there’s a list of things I must do. Never have a bad attitude, never say anything unkind, never think wrongly, never have dirty dishes in the sink, never be late, etc.
By age 4 I’d already realized, I’ll always drown.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Your standards are too high,” people used to say. But I couldn’t lower my standards just to make myself feel better. God says, “Be perfect as I am perfect.” I wanted to meet that standard.
I am right, I thought. I must be perfect to be good enough, to be above the water line. At the same time, I knew it was wrong to hate myself for every little thing that pushed me under water.
I’ve tried to figure how I was wrong. To find a way I didn’t have to be perfect to prevent myself from drowning. But recently I realized something—I wasn’t wrong. All my efforts are as futile as attempting to tread water for a lifetime. I’ll always drown.
I’m a dirty rotten sinner as my mother used to say. I’ll never go a day without having a bad attitude, saying something wrong, or being annoyed by the dirty dishes in my sink. I’ll always deserve to drown. I’ll always deserve to go to hell.
I’d argue with Jesus. “I keep making the same mistakes. How can you love me? I’m not good enough.”
As I was gulping in water, Jesus laughed and smiled. “Exactly. That’s why you need me,” and he extended his hand.
Suddenly it clicked. I don’t have to fight about the feel-good idea that my standards are too high. I don’t have to compromise or work on self-esteem.
Because, yes, I will always drown, but Jesus made a boat, even more than that, a floating city. When he died on the cross, he saved me from drowning and set me on solid ground. The waters cannot touch me.
Jesus catapults my complete failure across the sea. Jesus invites me to stand on the same ground as him. The same ground as God. That’s amazing.
All Jesus asks is that I am sorry and trust him.
I’ve always been sorry, but here I am acting like my sins can pull me through the ground into the sea, like I don’t trust him the ground is solid.
That’s ridiculous. Jesus saved me. I’m insulting him to live like I’m still drowning. I’m telling Jesus his death wasn’t enough for me. I’m laying on the ground making swimming motions in denial that Jesus pulled me out of the water.
Jesus, help me stand.