Last Thursday I posted a blog about how I perceive and consider other people and their mistakes, predicaments and downfalls. Admittedly, it was kind of harsh, but my tone was aimed internally since I have a long row to hoe when it comes to pride. I ended that post with the following statement:
"The second realization is but the counterpart of the first, which is I must refuse to embrace my predilections or dysfunction as that which defines my character or my worth. I cannot buy into the lie that being broken and miserable is how God intended me to be, that it's my identification and rightful inheritance. Sounds crazy, but I've done it.
But, that can be saved for another day."
But, that can be saved for another day."
Guess what! Today is that day! Are you excited? No? Well, that's OK because I am!
I will start this discussion by stating that I am ever in the process of transformation and, though, I may pause a while in one form or another, I know that I cannot become stagnant in my growth, always trusting that God has a better way, a better life, and a better me in mind. Therefore, in no way am I claiming perfection or that I have absolute knowledge and understanding in this area. I have only my life experience, thus far, to offer as an example and the Word of God to bring clarity and encouragement.
If I had to draw a word picture of me between the ages of 18 and 29, it would look like this.
It's not a pretty picture. I was a fairly miserable person, but it was who I was. It was who I thought I was.
The truth is, without Christ to intervene, over the course of a lifetime, regardless of the amount of time, we allow the world around us to tell us who we are and to direct our character development through our relationships and experiences. My life, for example, taught me, through a series of bad relationships with fellow classmates in middle school, that I could not be friends with other girls, they could not be trusted. I was still basically OK, and then I entered high school, which taught me that really all people could not be trusted. Those four years clearly illustrated to me that if I was ever going to preserve my own heart and mind, I needed to reject, reject, reject. By the end of high school, I had already cemented in my mind that boys could not be trusted, and that if I desired to have a relationship with them, it had to be on my terms. My terms, by the way, were one foot in, one foot out, ready to bolt. In college, I maintained my 12 foot tall invisible block wall that kept everyone away only to exit on a couple of occasions to be crushed again. So, what did I learn? Who did I figure out I was?
Well, having not used the Bible as a picture reference for who I should be and how God sees me, I determined that I was shy and by shy I mean unfriendly. My husband and I used to fight... not discuss, but fight about my needing to make friends. I, of course, justified it by declaring that it was who I was and it couldn't be helped or changed. When I became a Christian, that didn't just go away. All of those emotions listed above still remained. The still defined me and affected how I perceived people and myself. Most importantly, it affected how I perceived God. That wall I had constructed didn't just shield me from bad people who might hurt me, but all people and even God himself. The thing is, I didn't even know it was a lie. I didn't realize that it wasn't actually who I was, who I was designed and created to be. I wouldn't say it out loud, but on some level, I assumed that God made me that way.
Sound familiar? Well, I believe that most people make this excuse. Sure, you might not be unfriendly and cold, but you might lie about pointless things without any thought. You might desire to have everyone like you, so you do whatever is needed to make it happen. You might be a perfectionist or a workaholic, a hoarder or a miser, a professional pity party event coordinator or perhaps you just reject God on all accounts. No matter what the definition you've inscribed on your own soul or self-portrait you've painted, if you are not seeing yourself through the eyes of Jesus and living the life that God carefully crafted for you, then you are living a lie, my friend. It might be a big lie, it might be a little lie, but it's a lie nonetheless.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered! Psalms 139:13-17 (NLT)
The final straw for me was one day when I was driving home from church in my humility building white Ford Aerostar. I was excited about life and all that God had already done in me and in my life. I was praying and going over my service notes in my mind. I wondered what else God could possible have for me? He had already blessed me with so much. Then the Holy Spirit asked me a question. "Did Jesus attract people or repel them?" I suddenly had that sinking feeling. You know the kind when you are about to be scolded, but just aren't sure for what. Suddenly, I pictured Jesus walking down a dirt road, surrounded by his disciples and other followers, with a crowd of strangers just beyond that. The only answer I could give was that He clearly attracted people. Then the follow up question hit. "So, if you are supposed to be a representative of Christ in this earth, a reflection of Him, how can you do that if you reject people and are not friendly?" Bam! There it was. I am designed to be ever transformed into someone that increasingly reflects Christ. So how could the very thing that I allowed to define me be in direct opposition to the very person of Christ in me.... one of them had to go and though, certainly, I have to push myself to be friendly and loving and kind and forgiving , I am being redefined daily.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you,
will continue his work until it is finally finished
on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philipians 1:6 (NLT)
My question to you today is: Are there aspects of your character that are in direct opposition to the very person of Christ in you? Or if you've dealt with this in your own life, can you share some pointers? I could sure use them!