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Just as You Are
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I recently read a book with a lovely title but a heart-rending story. “The Butterfly Garden” is a memoir by Chip St. Clair recalling the painful and terrifying details of living with an abusive father—never knowing what would set him off on a rampage or what deadly “tricks” his dad would dream up.

It turned out that Chip’s father was on the Most Wanted list for over twenty years as a fugitive child-killer. His mother, in typical fear and co-dependent fashion, supported the lies and closed her eyes to the abuse. Chip discovered, as an adult, that his date and place of birth and even his name were false.

Not all abusers commit murder but they surely cause physical and emotional suffering that scars their victims for life.

One of the hardest things for victims of paternal abuse is relating to the Fatherhood of God. They can relate to the obedient, suffering Son but, as a friend, who suffered much as did Chip St. Clair, told me:

“I can accept God as Almighty and all-powerful, but I cannot (now) accept God as a Father. It is too painful for me.” I knew of his struggles to always be in control, to please, to impress, to exceed some high, unobtainable standard. I admired this but sensed that much of it grew from his childhood longing for approval. I knew a little of the story but one quiet afternoon I asked softly, “Please tell me….”

And then I listened. Some I had heard before. Some was almost too painful to hear. Mine was not idle curiosity. No one has a right to ask anyone for this much pain. Physical and spiritual life hung in the balance for this friend at that time. Should it be our last encounter, I wanted him to know the most important thing of his life. “There’s more,” said my friend, “but I cannot bear to go there.”

Strived All Your Life to Please

“Then don’t. You have strived all your life to please, to impress, to show yourself worthy of love, haven’t you?”

He nodded.

“I am here to tell you that you don’t have to do that anymore. You are accepted and loved just as you are! It’s the way your friends in the church love you. It’s the way God loves you.”


“Yes, really.”

Is there any greater message that troubled, hurting hearts can hear than that of God’s love and acceptance of us “just as we are”?

If the God of the Universe invites struggling humans to “Throw all your anxieties upon him, because he cares about you,” (I Peter 5:7 CJB), then what business have we (all struggling) humans to lay needless anxieties or demands upon one another? Each and every one of us is invited to come “Just as I am….”

Incredibly, that is the love which changes us.

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By Lois Pecce. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the COMPLETE JEWISH BIBLE ©.

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