I sat down to write several times today, and nothing came out. Which is silly, because when I was in the shower I had about ten ideas…
Just now, I sat down to write a post about God’s grace and the ways it manifests in everyday life, but my mind keeps going back to Bristol Palin, who has just announced that she is pregnant, out of wedlock, for the second time. And I wonder if these two topics are more connected than they seem…
Now, Bristol and her family really don’t relate to my life in any way – I’m not American, nor do I follow American politics closely, so my interest in her life is purely based on her semi-celebrity status. But reading her recent blog announcement, and much of the outraged finger-wagging from various keyboard warriors, has touched me deeply.
I know open letters are kind of daggy, but here’s what I wish I could say to Bristol, if we could talk face-to-face.
Congratulations on your recent pregnancy! I know it might not feel like a joyous thing at this time, but I genuinely mean that. Your baby is precious, and I’m glad that it exists.
I could feel the heaviness in your heart as I read the words of your recent blog post.
One particular phrase stood out to me – you said you knew this would be a huge disappointment to many people.
I’ve been talking about disappointment a lot with my friends lately. Because we’re total weirdos who like to debate the definition of words, we’ve been talking about whether disappointment is an emotion or just a thought pattern that occurs. We settled (I think?) on disappointment being the failure of expectations to be realised. (Which can manifest as an emotional feeling of disappointment.)
I’m guessing that many of your family and friends were expecting you not to have sex outside of marriage again, and certainly not to get pregnant again. I’m sure that even you were expecting this, given your advocacy of abstinence before marriage.
So yes, anybody who had these expectations of you is disappointed at your recent pregnancy. Their expectations have not been realised.
But Bristol, you need to know that Jesus is not disappointed at your failure.
Jesus expected you to fail, because he knows you for who you truly are. A sinner. (Just like me, and everyone else reading this.)
The Bible says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God“.
This is the beauty of coming before God. He is not a bearded, finger-pointing grandfather, sighing and saying, “I’m so disappointed in you. I expected you to do better this time.”
No, he expects us to sin and fail, and his expectations are consistently met.
But turn back to that Bible verse I just quoted – it continues, “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
There is nothing you can do, or avoid doing, that will make you right with God. You can’t impress him by abstaining from sex before marriage (and you can’t do it without his strength!). And you can’t disappoint him by failing to abstain.
The only thing you can do is humbly fall before him, and ask for his mercy.
I don’t know what your personal relationship with Jesus is. Whether you are a “Sunday Christian”, or whether you chose to follow Jesus when you were younger but somehow drifted away, or whether you try to walk closely with him each day.
So maybe I am preaching to the converted here. But you know what? We don’t stop needing God’s grace after we are saved, so I’m going to keep on preaching.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean you will never sin again. It means you know that you will sin again, but that God will not punish you for it. It means that when you sin again, you know God will give you the strength to get up again and keep walking in his grace. It means you know that God is working in you each day, through his Holy Spirit, changing your sinful nature, removing it piece by piece. It means you know there will come a day when you will sin no more – you will be made complete in Jesus.
I’ll be praying for you, Bristol (really!), that you would know for certain who you are in Christ. And that you will trust in what God has done, not what you can do.