how my ridiculous bucket list has anything to do with anything.

when i was sixteen, i had this list of stuff i wanted to do before i die.  and because i was sixteen, it did not have things like 'never watch citizen kane ever again' and 'stop being so stinking afraid of snorkeling' and 'pass for a college student when i visit campustown,' and other more refined things like i would put on a list now. (if i made a list now.  it seems that only sixteen-year-olds have the wherewithal do stuff like that.  which is a problem, because sixteen-year-olds tend to put really stupid or totally bizarre stuff on their lists.

or maybe that was just sixteen-year-old paige.)

i don't remember much about my list.  i know it had 176 things on it, which is pretty ambitious if you think about it.  i know it had something on it about learning the seven chakras.  i'm positive it said something about being able to quote john lennon lyrics in day-to-day conversation.  and i'm also sure it mentioned cooking a whole meal entirely from things i grew...which actually might stay on my adult bucket list.  but the thing i remember most vividly is that my #1 goal in life was "get religious."

sure, i always considered myself more or less a christian.  i believed in jesus, i knew he died for my sin on the cross, and i was a decent, relatively moral person.  i figured if i died, i'd get into heaven because i'd done enough good to outweigh the bad - i got good grades, i was nice to people, the only time i've ever been drunk was two days before my twenty-first birthday.  stuff like that.  but deep down, i had this bitterness and loneliness and confusion, and these memories of things that i had done or thought that i was so ashamed of.  and regardless of how hard i worked at being good and doing the right things, those things were lurking down there, and i was terrified that someone would find out.  and i guess i thought that 'getting religious' would solve that.

my senior year of high school, through a series of people and events (one of which was having a pizza thrown at me by an ex-boyfriend with a lip ring - i'll have to tell you that story sometime), god smacked me in the face with one very important truth: good enough is not enough.  perfection is what gets you into heaven, makes it possible to have any kind of meaningful relationship with god.  and compared to that standard, i wasn't good enoughand couldn't be.  i was going to hell even though i had done most things right in life and there was nothing i could do to change that.  and that's kind of a scary thought for a seventeen-year-old to absorb.

i was not, and never would be, good enough.  i would never have it all together, i would never be able to escape the shame of the things that i did that i could never tell anyone about (but that god already knew).  i would always be dirty.  but then he slapped me in the face with this little nugget: jesus is perfect. and not only that, but the whole reason he died on the cross was to trade me - his life for mine, his sinlessness for my failed attempts and shamefulness.  he would give me his perfection and i would be good enough.  not because i had earned it, but because jesus had, and he was offering it to me.

i can't describe to you what...relief...and joy... and, i don't know, weightlessness i felt.  i didn't have to be ashamed of failing anymore.  i didn't have to fix my brokenness and loneliness and bitterness myself.  and i'll be honest and tell you i struggled for a really long time with guilt over accepting jesus' death for me, because i obviously didn't deserve it.  and that's still true.  i will never deserve it and i will always be a screw-up when left to my own devices.  but the bible makes it clear that no one deserves it, and he offers it to us freely anyway. and not only that, but he doesn't regret it when we take him up on the offer and let him stand in our place, be condemned and die for our sin, and we get to live in freedom from the weight of it all and the death that it brings.  we get to live.  i got to live, and i don't deserve it, but i am so grateful.

and his offer is for you, too.  he's not waiting for you to get your crap together.  he's not waiting for you to be good enough.  he's not waiting for you to get bangs or some trendy greek tattoo or whatever it is that makes you look like you 'fit in' at church.  his offer is for right now, however you are and whatever baggage you bring with you.  recognize that the things you do, the good stuff and the bad stuff, is nothing compared to what jesus did for you.  repent of - turn away from - all the stuff you're relying on to make it through this life on your own, and believe in this GOOD NEWS.

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