I’ve recently been captivated by the blog of a young woman I grew up with. Not someone I knew well, but who grew up in the same church and school, and someone I admired. Over the years, I never saw her as anything else than grounded in her faith. Little did I know, that so did everyone else. No one saw her as she truly was: broken and struggling to keep up facades she felt it was worth breaking her muscles over.
As I read the account of her struggles and the ways that Christ has freed her, I couldn’t help but be overcome with snotty tears (sorry, but it’s the truth). I was struck by how well she hid it, yet reminded of the fact that we all are so broken and rendered into pieces – even (and especially so, it seems) the ones who don’t seem like it. Myself included.
That’s a realization I’d come to not long before I left for South Korea, actually. Not that I didn’t think I wasn’t a broken person – I knew I had my issues and problems. It was the extent of them that I didn’t realize…how much they affected other areas of my life – such as how my insecurity in high school acted as a springboard for other problems that dived into me. I’m still in the process of fishing them out. Luckily, God gave me some good bait to use on them. He sits next to me at the edge of the waters, teaching me the best way to cast and reel them in, gently placing his hands around mine. Or for those bigger catches, sometimes he just reaches into the waters and snatches them up with his bare hands, scarred by his love for me. My sins wriggle desperately in his palms, but they can’t escape his grip and perish in his hands. I look at him in awe, as he continues to fish in my waters with his hands, powerful like a bear hunting in a stream. Now that’s hardcore fishing.
*this impromptu image brought to you by the once empty vessel, now inexplicably filled with God’s love, known as Adina*
Okay. Back to the realization concerning the extent of my imperfection! Don’t you love those? Jesus-born humility is so heart-rending yet so sweet later on, as we feel the love it’s given in.
So. At the time, I had spent the morning journalling. Somehow, I found myself looking at the root emotions and motivations I had behind said problems, and that was something I don’t think I had done before. Yet that’s what broke the dams that I had been trying so hard to break past. In a single moment, I was given clarity. I saw what was really at the core of some issues: that same old insecurity. In all my learning and growing in Christ, in all the ways I’ve learned who I am in Christ, I had made great swaths of progress. Yet, I could only go so far because I didn’t think to look back at the one thing I thought I’d surely left behind. I had never completely admitted the extent of it to Christ – most of it, sure, but “most” isn’t good enough for Jesus. He’s jealous of us and our hearts (jealous: “passionately desiring what belongs to you“). Pridefully trying to pretend that dirt wasn’t under the rug, that it had marred me…that’s what was holding me back.
Surely I, who had been raised in a family and church and school that never let me forget how much Jesus loved me, would have a better grasp of her identity in Christ, would know better. Well, that’s the funny thing about us sheep: we can sure be…well, less than intelligent when it comes to some things. I say that about myself first and foremost, because both my Shepherd and I know I’m not perfect. Yet somehow, he loves me. Despite the past, the present, and any possible future. Thank goodness for that!
Currently, I’m not yet ready to share further on this but when I am, you’ll be sure to know it.
For now, I share this part of myself in the hope that others can glean something from it, that they can see the imperfection I am fraught with, which Jesus has perfected. That they can know he is responsible for all that I am. I’ve not offered this before since it kind of makes me nervous, but if you would like to connect with me and talk, I’m all ears. The mouth part may need a bit more work, but I’ll do my best.
I also share these things to remind others that “perfect” does not exist, that it’s not worth hiding yourself, not worth bending yourself out of the shape that God has made you in, not worth shackling yourself to pretend to be anything other than the beautiful soul that God has planned before time for you to be – that you are, right this instant!
Psalms 139:13-16 (MSG)
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
When life and our own mistakes shatter us, he puts us back together and uses Gold to seal the cracks, making our history entwined with our beauty. He seals us with himself, with his love that overpowers the strongest of imperfections and ugliness, with the strength of the lion of a Father that he is.
If you struggle with who you are in Christ, then I can tell you from experience that a couple surefire ways to combat that is to surround yourself with people who will confirm that Christ identity, building you up, and to speak truth-laden scripture over yourself, reminding yourself of who God says you are. Long ago (okay, so it wasn’t THAT long ago) someone gave me a bookmark listing some aspects of our identity in Christ. This link has those same scriptures and aspects, and I’ve found it immensely helpful.
We are made perfectly imperfect, through him, and he will always be there to mend us, care for us and whisper love as he gently molds us continuously upward.
And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We are all formed by your hand.