Angry Judge to Wounded Healer

This is a good reflection while we are still near the beginning of Lent. The image of an angry God, the almighty vengeful despot, wanting to be appeased by the blood of His Son, has been too dominant in popular Christian culture for too much of our history. Royal governance and judicial trials, rather than familial love and self-giving empathy have been the cultural fabric from which our God-concept has too often been crafted, despite the overwhelming example of Jesus in the Gospels. Here’s Audrey Assad:

Though singer-songwriter Audrey Assad converted to Catholicism in her 20s, remnants of the fundamentalist faith in which she was raised still held some power over her perception of God, who she saw as an angry judge that hated her. Coupled with the despair she felt watching the war and death in her father’s Syrian homeland play out in the news, the popular Christian music artist found her faith shaken and doubts about God’s very existence growing.

Emerging from that dark valley took a lot of time, but it resulted in her latest album “Evergreen,” filled with original songs that convey her struggles, new view of God, and a sense of rebirth and hope. (More info on album at AudreyAssad.com)

Audrey’s father Riad, his siblings, and his mother came to the U.S. as refugees during the early 1970s. He eventually became a citizen and was always committed to being a good neighbor and member of the community wherever he lived.

Watching human beings slaughtered in her ancestral homeland took a toll on Audrey. During a “Christopher Closeup” interview, she recalled that it wasn’t just the war itself that troubled her, but also the American Christian response to it and to refugees. She started to re-examine her “ideas about the nature of God.”

That re-examination was ultimately a good thing because Audrey admits she “had a lot of bad ideas that needed to be done away with…My understanding of God was primarily in a sort of legal setting. I thought God is the judge, Jesus is the lawyer, and I’m the person on the stand, and I can’t measure up. Thank goodness for Jesus, who is saving me from God because, otherwise, God wouldn’t want anything to do with me because I’m this dirty rag of no worth.”

While the Scripture verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself” is well-known, the “loving yourself” aspect is often overlooked, which was the case with Audrey.

She explained, “I used to scoff at that idea of self-love, but now I understand. Thomas Merton said somewhere in his journal that by loving ourselves, we learn to love God…If God says, ‘I love you. You are worthy of love, and I only make what is good,’ then to sit in this attitude of self-loathing is actually [pride]…To love what God said is good…is actually the most humble thing you can do…It took me a long time to learn that. It’s been a really integral part of my journey as a person.”

Being the mother of two young children, including a four-month-old daughter, . . .

Read the rest of the interview here: From angry judge to wounded healer: Audrey Assad’s new album reflects her new view of God.

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