When people ask me about my past, I jokingly reply, “I was raised by cats.” The thought may be pretty comical on the surface, but there is sadness, shame, and grief underneath. You see, I say cats raised me because as a child I was grounded to my room, pretty much from the time I was 12 until my parents dropped me off at college. My three cats were the only living creatures that would visit, comfort, and entertain me. Feeling unloved was just a basic part of my past.
To my parents, I could do nothing right. I was constantly blamed and guilty of some offense. “You are wrong. Get away from me,” was the overarching theme of my childhood, despite my deep desire to please my parents and make them proud.
Naturally, I brought this picture into my adult life and faith story. I compared God to the image of a shrewd parent peering down His nose, ready to cast judgment and then cast me aside because I could do nothing right. I constantly feared not being good enough. I was afraid God would separate Himself from me just like my parents did. I thought He would leave me to fend for myself because I was corrupt, sinful, guilty, and therefore, I deserved to suffer alone. In actuality, those things could not be further from the truth or the true nature of God.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 NIV
God is not like man. There is no fear in Him because He is our loving Father! Here’s something wonderful I’ve learned: If you will continuously receive and believe God’s love for you, you’ll never struggle with feeling unloved again. God’s not angry at me. He’s not blaming me. He’s not saying, “You are wrong. Get away from me,” like I heard before.
Colossians shows that, yes, our sins once alienated us from Him, but Jesus, in His love and obedience to God, secured our right to be spotless, blameless, and innocent, never again to experience a guilty verdict or separation from His loving presence.
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven … Colossians 1:21-23 NIV
All our sins have been removed. Forgiveness of our sins means, “as if I never messed up–I am innocent.” We don’t need to live in fear of punishment because through Him, we are made innocent.