Sunday, March 13, 2016

Part 3 - Love & Broken Peices

I spent much of my life trying to be in control - trying to fix things. Perhaps because there was plenty I couldn't control. But much of the time, I felt as if my identity were based in a picture. When I couldn't live up to the picture, I beat myself up for being a failure.

Still, if only I accepted the truth - instead I fought it - but all have sinned and fallen short. Missed the mark (Romans 3:23). No one is righteous... not even one (Ecclesiastes 7:20). I just wanted to make everyone happy. I didn't want to tip the apple cart. And maybe in the good moments, with noble intentions, I wanted to set an example.

Probably a common dilemma among pastor's kids.

Still, I was ashamed of my imperfections.

After all, in 1 Timothy 3 it says that in order to lead the church well, a leader (overseer) must set the example in his own home. As a PK, I suppose that made me apart of said household. I was part of the example.

It's a lot of pressure.

So, I had all the right answers in Sunday School. I wore modest clothing. I only listened to Christian music. I didn't cuss.

But since all have sinned... those outward signs of being a good "Christian kid" had nothing to do with what was going on in my heart. Jesus once called the Pharisees white washed tombs (Matthew 23) and honestly... that's what I felt like. The outside was pretty... the inside, dying. I was sneaky.

If I messed up, I didn't want anyone to know. I would simply fix it before anyone knew.

But in order for there to be trust, a certain level of authenticity has to be present.

It took me a long time to feel comfortable enough to be authentic. To not feel "at risk" if I bared my brokenness.  

The reality?

At first, I figured it was everyone else - that was why I was so broken. No one understood me. No one treated me right. It was my junior high math teacher's fault. The last time I opened up, someone shut me up. The reasons were numerous.

One evening, a year or so back, I was staring at the filthy kitchen in my apartment with a paper to finish. I was furious. I was already struggling to keep up with the course. Part of it was my own procrastination, but when I looked at that kitchen with dishes piled a mile high and a floor in dire need of mopping, all I could think about was how mad I was with the people I lived with. I wasn't their unpaid live-in maid - I had a job. If only they would just do their part and help with the upkeep of our living area.

So instead of working on my paper, I cleaned the kitchen first. I didn't get any sleep that night as I opted to consume copious amounts of coffee and write the paper in the wee hours of the morning.

Don't use my logic, by the way.

At that point in my life, what I really wanted and prayed for was to be surrounded by people who put as much effort into me as I did into them. I felt like I was being drained, surrounded by so many relational moochers - they were sabotaging me and turning me into a person I didn't like.

I thought maybe, if only God would bring a few solid friends into my life (I had one, I hoped there were more like her out there).

If only God would bring a really great guy into my life...

Then - then I would be better. I would be fixed.

I also thought maybe, if I would just get enough of a routine together, be a good Christian and read my Bible more often...

Actually - that will get you somewhere.

But I would get discouraged and run away. Every. Single. Time. I felt like I couldn't face God when I failed. Opening his word, or listening to worship music made me feel guilty and ashamed.

I think I was hoping for an instant fix. Like reading my Bible everyday for a week would somehow result in a complete turn around of behavior.

But Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him (Matthew 16). We get to share with Christ in his suffering (1 Peter 4). Because the Christian life is no easy path. Reading your Bible, while a means of leaning on God's strength where we are weak, doesn't immediately negate the fallenness of this world.

Our bodies are still broken.

People can't fix us - not people: relationships nor friends.

A long shower won't wash off the ugliness of sin.

It's deeper than that. Ingrained in our very essence.

But weren't not alone in the refining process. And it IS a process. Which is why it's often so confusing to go through. It's easy to misunderstand the process - easy to blame the pains on our environment. Rather, we're apart of the body of Christ. Called to recognize our inherent brokenness, and share out burdens with one another (Galatians 6). But in bearing one another's struggles, we're supposed to point each other back to God, his mercy and sufficiency.

Because, when we fall, he catches us.

When we're weak, he strengthens us.
My flesh and my heart may fail, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
Struggling isn't a reason to go looking to cast blame. And while it certainly isn't good, God loves us too much for us to run from him in shame. He's already covered our shame (Isaiah 1:18).  So instead, we are in process, growing more and more like him, suffering and struggling as we strive. Refining fires were never meant to be pleasant nor easy.

Have courage.

Be patient and full of grace.

We're all in process.

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