I don't know how I put up with it for so long...I guess I thought it was the norm.
Or why I thought it was a healthy relationship...it just made me doubt myself.
I couldn't stay married to that nag. So I got away...and you can, too.
Religion has reduced God to a nag--a tedious rule keeper who lays on the guilt whenever we're bad...someone shaking his head as we're caught red-handed...someone who keeps a running tally of our every mistake. When I dedicated my life to God, everything started out great...but as time passed, we settled into our routine like an old married couple. And I guess I was the annoying one in the marriage because I was reminded regularly of how I was doing it wrong.
Maybe I was the mess up, maybe I was doing everything wrong. But apparently there were others who were doing everything wrong, too--everyone I knew at church struggled with the 2 a.m. vague panic of not measuring up.
Is that how we think God works?
Peter (the impulsive, down-to-earth, swearing fisherman) suspected Jesus was a nag when they first met. Sure, Jesus did a miracle right in front of Peter, that's pretty cool. And the miracle was an obscene amount of fish that helped Peter's business! But after the dinner and a show, Peter became increasingly aware of Jesus' holiness. And holy is awesome--as in stand-in-awe awesome--but without relationship, it translates into NAG. So all Peter could hear is "You're a dirty fisherman telling dirty jokes with your dirty language, you're not good enough, you lose your temper, you're not a religious man so WHAT are you doing with this HOLY ONE?! You should be ashamed!"
Jesus didn't say anything like that to Peter, but Peter looked at Jesus and said, "get away from me, I'm a sinful man". (Luke 5)
Holiness can be intimidating. It's like unknowingly tracking dog crap on someone else's pristine white carpet. No one has to say anything to you--you know what a dork you are and you feel ashamed of yourself even though you weren't even aware you were doing it! Then you spend the next half hour inwardly scolding yourself that you should have known better... Jesus didn't scold you. YOU scolded you!
We understand who's doing the scolding at that moment, but in the blur of our day we sometimes attribute that inward scolding to God Almighty. We humans know the difference between good and evil (remember, Eve ate the apple) and when we recognize we're in the midst of evil, we go to work on ourselves. And every religious, persnickety, judgmental yuck we've ever had the pleasure of coming into contact with is more than willing to help us along.
But God himself says He dances over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)! That's how much he ENJOYS us! Simple ol' us! He's not dancing and singing over the perfect angels but over US! Probably as we sit on the toilet or complain about our job. (happy thoughts)
As Peter spent time with Jesus day after day, he began to see this unconditional love right in front of his eyes. And even after Peter impulsively denied Jesus three times, abandoning Him and betraying Him when He needed him most, Jesus still made a point to forgive Peter. Jesus once again performed a miracle that resulted in an obscene amount of fish for fisherman Peter. Peter and the other disciples were in a boat (newly loaded up with fish) and Jesus was just a vague figure on the shore. But when that miracle happened, Peter knew exactly WHO was on the shore and impulsively dove out of a perfectly good boat into the water because he simply couldn't get to Jesus fast enough! Isn't that what we do when someone makes us feel incredible, we HAVE to to be near them. That dirty fisherman was no longer ashamed to be around the HOLY ONE! Jesus' unconditional love made Peter comfortable with himself, occasional potty-mouth and all! (John 21)
Let God's unconditional love sink in! He's not busy judging you, despite what you may feel or what religion has told you. God's not a nag so go ahead and give that nag the boot! Give up all the shame and regret! And reacquaint yourself with your singing, dancing, unconditionally loving God!