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“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The young man approached me with tears in his eyes.
God - Love - Love - Freedom - Life
I’d spoken about God’s amazing love for us and how His love gives us freedom to walk humbly and confidently amid life’s difficulties. I shared my personal story of always feeling like an “alien” no matter where I lived and my perpetual wrestling under a shadow of assumed disapproval and exclusion.
He approached me cautiously. He said he knew God loved him but struggled…because he didn’t believe anyone else did.
Gospel - God - Grace - World - Climate
Can you relate? The gospel he heard intellectually was not what he knew experientially. Although he was aware of God’s grace, his world still seemed steeped in a climate of measurement and merit.
I asked about his relationships to discern if perhaps he was in an abusive situation of some kind. He shared he just didn’t feel like he belonged anywhere. He identified with my testimony of always feeling like I don’t quite fit in. Maybe you do, too.
Culture - Family - Church - Relationships - Nobody
Growing up, he was immersed in a shame-based culture. Family and church relationships were inauthentic and superficial because nobody felt free to open themselves to criticism or stand out from the crowd.
Achievement and accomplishment were key, and anyone who fell short was treated as a failure. This pressure, coupled with a lack of affection and encouragement, had taken its toll.
College - Things - Environment - Sort - Peers
Then he left for college. While he hoped things would change in a new environment, he found himself alienated again. An intellectual and theological sort, he considered most of his peers disinterested in deep discussions and thoughtful debates. Nobody read many books that weren’t assigned or seemed too concerned about the deep things of God.
This young man never...
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