I’m a rule follower. Rules keep order and fight chaos. Rules bring peace and predictability. I want everyone else to be rule-followers too, and can find myself judging those whose lives are falling apart. If they had only followed the rules, then life wouldn’t be so messed up.
This rule-following lifestyle seems good in theory, but lacks reality. Honestly, there is no way that each of us can live a life that follows all the rules – sometimes we didn’t even know a rule existed, and we inadvertently break it. I’ve recently come to a place in my life where I’ve decided to let go of rules, regulations, and expectations. For much of my life, I’ve been exhausted because I’ve tried to live up to every thing that was expected of me, rules inflicted upon me because of someone else’s desires.
If we take an honest look at our life’s rules — ones we place on ourselves or ones placed on us by others — we soon realize that we’ll never be able to adhere to them all. The rules of motherhood are still so vastly underwritten, we can never achieve them all. The regulations for being a Godly wife seem insurmountable and unattainable. The rules of female friendships change with each new acquaintance. Mix each of those with the guidelines of thriving career woman, and the rule book is too large to even read! We find ourselves in the middle of a rule-storm, complete with the hail of expectations, and stinging raindrops that soak us with feelings of failure and incompetence. It’s easier to just say “forget it all” and step over the line to “rebel”.
But then God offers me the umbrella of His love and says, “Here, use this to cover yourself.” I can choose to put it up over me and take a rest from the cold, wet rain. I can live in the dry comfort of his love which requires nothing of me — no performing, no rules, only acceptance. Even now, you might say to yourself that if God gives his love, we must accept it and return it through our actions, more rules to follow. But that’s not true! “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He gives it freely, and under his Love umbrella, we can find rest for our rule-enslaved lives.
It’s hard for us to let go and believe that God loves us just as we are and not for what we do, the right choices we make, the ministries (or households) we lead effectively, or careers we guide to success. He loves us in this moment, just as we are, for who we are today, not the one we will grow to be in the future.
The rain of regulations and expectations fall relentlessly around us, but under His umbrella of love, we stay comforted with unconditional acceptance and grace. It’s here under this umbrella that we discover the most freeing guideline of all. Loving God is a choice we make in love not a rule we are forced to follow.