So this is a public confession. Two things before I confess publicly:
- In the past year or so, I have tried to cut back on sharing really personal things via social media. One day I decided that I needed to be sharing my heart exclusively with my close friends and family and that was that. However, I think that this might be edifying to someone (if anyone even reads this…) and wanted to write it in my blog (that is slowly gathering dust).
- I also decided (perhaps it was also about a year ago) that I don’t want my relationship with Christ (namely, my life) to consist of constantly measuring my sin. By measuring I mean constantly thinking about my sin and living a life more focused on that sin than on God’s grace. Don’t mistake me: we are called to be constantly in awe of grace. It’s not a natural right, but a gracious, lavish, undeserved gift. However, I am alive in Jesus and, well, just like living confidently in that reality, I suppose.
Those two things being said, I have really screwed up in the last month or so. It’s a new revelation. Here’s the tale:
Let’s start at the beginning. I was the girl that ALWAYS got the “Most Improved” award for every sports team, which, as we all know, means that I worked really hard and they felt bad for me. I take it back. My eighth grade cheerleading squad awarded me the superlative for “Most Determined.” Amidst the superlatives for “Best Smile,” “Best Back Handspring” and “Most Flexible,” I, naturally, was the best at something no one cared about. In retrospect, “Most Flexible” was undoubtedly the worst option, but at the time being the most determined seemed painfully underwhelming and mediocre. Essentially, I struggled profoundly with comparison. Growing up was never easy for me when it came to comparison. I always lost; or at least I never won. In fact, I think that I can safely say that my biggest struggle—that struggle that remains the root of all other struggles in my life—is my self-perceived lack of definity. Meaning: I have always felt like weak toast. Toast is good, but not awesome. It’s sustaining in a pinch and decent when you smother it in butter and jam, but, by itself, toast is just not that impressive. So: fear that I am a piece of toast. That’s me in a nutshell.
What’s interesting: my outer-toastiness has always covered something that I believed to be really untoasty. I never felt that I was only an ordinary baked good. I knew that something burned really hot underneath the plain surface: why did NO ONE ever see it, whatever ‘it’ was? Seriously. It hurt for many many many seasons. Many long seasons. It hurts to think of them. Well, God is gracious and sent his son to save me from a life of toast. He breathed life into the mediocre and I have never looked back. Not. I just realized tonight that the old fear, the old me, lingers. Aren’t all of our old, deadliest sins like that? Lingering stage left, waiting to take center when the new dance seems to be going so well? It’s so frustrating.
Back to the tale. In the last seven or so months, I, for the first time in my entire life, I have felt special. I’m not talking about understanding my real, ultimate worth; that happened about a year ago (what happened about a year ago—it seemed a very important time?!). I’m just talking special. People have told me that I am good at something. People have told me that I have a future in writing history. That I am talented. It has been an overwhelming experience, especially for a “most improved” toast girl from way back.
But I realized tonight that it’s no good. Bummer. It seems that overnight, I have made it all about me. I was profoundly convicted after a certain episode during class this evening and am being strongly urged to confess that I still—STILL—lust after praise from people like I did when I was 13, 16, 22. Like, it is serious. I crave it. It’s addicting. And it’s never enough. I realized that this venture went really quickly from being about Jesus to being about people loving me. People’s acceptance is everything to me right now, or at least it was everything to me about 3 hours ago. Honestly, my initial reaction to this conviction/realization was: “but GOD! PLEASE! I have always felt second-rate and mediocre! Please just let me have this one!” Really? What do I ever mean by that when talking to an infinite God that invites me into his eternal abundance? Anyway. That’s me. The old me. The new me. But, ultimately, the loved me. We’re all one person, living and moving with all of our experiences and scars into new territory. It’s not as easy as I thought it would be. I am more in need of grace than I previously believed. And I’m really thankful that He’s not finished. “My lips will shout for joy…my soul also, which you have redeemed. My tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long.” Psalm 71