Washing Away the Past

At any given time, I have a fairly hefty list of movies to watch or books to read.  It’s hard to get around to all of them because I can get easily distracted, kind of like Doug, the dog, in the movie “Up,” something as simple as a squirrel can throw me off of my game and get me reading or watching something else.  I review books for my blog every month which genuinely take precedent over some other stuff and then I get intrigued by something else and end up throwing another one on the pile.  It can be an endless cycle and the pile just never seems to get as small as I would like for it to get.

Not too long ago, I finally watched the movie, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”  I had heard enough about it that I was intrigued to want to watch it but not so much about it that I was afraid it wouldn’t meet my expectations.  So I gave it a whirl, not fully knowing what to expect.

I wasn’t disappointed, but it was certainly a heavy movie, something I’ve been trying to avoid in my current stage of life.  Life has been heavy enough without having to subject myself to fictional bouts of drama, so I’ve tried to avoid things that are too heavy.  “Wallflower” presented enough humor to counteract the heaviness that it was palatable for me at the time.

The thing that stood out to me the most about the movie was a quote that was said by one of the characters.  He said, “You accept the love that you think you deserve.”  From the moment that the character uttered it until the end of the film, I couldn’t get it out of my head.  I had to play back the quote a few times in order to really let it sink in.  As I let it marinate in my mind, it seemed that its poignancy seemed to deepen and it became even more meaningful to me.

When I was younger, I always marveled at these girls that I knew who ended up dating these complete jerks.  I never quite understood it.  Of course, being ever the friend and never the boyfriend to any of them, I saw it all too often.  Throughout high school I saw it and it didn’t get any better in college.  In fact, one could argue that it got worse.  Years later, this quote kind of brought it all back around for me and it seemed like the clouds parted, the skies opened up, and I could finally see something shedding light on this confusing situation.

We accept the love that we think we deserve, and it becomes more evident in certain relationships.  I guess that I always called it “settling.”  Why would someone settle for second best?  Why would someone who had so much to offer settle for someone who took what they offered and gave nothing in return?  How could someone think that they could deserve to be treated poorly?

As someone who has made their fair share of mistakes in the past, I can attest to the need for grace.  I am grateful that my past doesn’t define me.  While the things that I have done in the past have shaped me, they don’t have to define me, but it’s taken me a good chunk of time to come to that conclusion and be okay with that.  Frankly, understanding the grace that God shows me has been the number one facilitator of that realization.  I’m not sure where I would be had I not come to that conclusion, probably somewhere back in the past thinking that I deserved to eternally reap the consequences of my actions.

We accept the love that we think we deserve.  If we can’t get past our mistakes and move on to a place of forgiveness, both from others and from ourselves, we will always think that we deserve less than we really ought.  If we allow mistakes to define us rather than shape us, we could easily find ourselves accepting much less than second best.  Forgiveness is something that we need to accept and it’s not always easy to do that.

Again, this is where the grace of God shows up to me.  It doesn’t make sense, it’s completely contrary to our culture, it moves beyond what is deserved.  If it weren’t, it couldn’t be called, “grace.”  The reality is that we all fall short of receiving and deserving love, but people extend us grace, God extends us grace.  It’s just a question of whether or not we can accept it.  That’s easier said than done, depending on what we’ve done.

We accept the love that we think we deserve.  I deserve what I deserve not because of what I’ve done, but because of what someone else has done for me.  It’s a freeing thought to come to the conclusion that I can’t earn something.  If I realize that I, through grace, receive what someone else deserves, that’s a priceless gift.  I wonder how many people are out there trying to earn grace and failing miserably.  Do we accept the love that we think we deserve?  If so, what do we think we deserve?

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