Sept. 23, 2019
In this age of selfies and filters and all the things we do to showcase the best of who we are, it’s easy to get sucked into that mentality. Oh, I don’t think it’s really a new trend, per se, I just think we’ve gotten really good at doing it because we have all that technology has to offer at our disposal. We can highlight, color, filter, distort, crop, and hide any blemish. We can take 15 selfies until we get the one we want. We see them instantly. Long gone are the days of not taking too many pictures because you might run out of film… Truly. We have so many tools at our fingertips.
I think it’s natural for us to want others to see the best we can be, not only our looks, but in everything that we do. Yet, have we lost some of who we are by filtering out all the “bad stuff” we don’t want others to see? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in oversharing on social media, but if we only show the put-together side of ourselves, then do people really know who we are?
Furthermore, do people have an opportunity to truly know who Jesus is if all they see is our BEST selves all the time?
Friends, I believe with every ounce of who I am that God wants to redeem and restore us, regardless of what others have said or done to us. Regardless of our past regrets and mistakes. Regardless of the things we’ll mess up today and tomorrow and each day after. I believe that this little line from Isaiah 61:3 is true for you and me today, that God wants us to have “a crown of beauty instead of ashes.” But I don’t think we get there by hiding all of our junk and our baggage.
I think it’s through that STUFF that the light of Christ can shine most brightly in you and in me. It’s in spite of our experiences and heartaches that the love of Jesus can show through. I think as followers of Christ we are called to live as treasured people. 2 Cornithians 4:6-9 reminds us,
“God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out.” (CEB)
I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life when I’ve been knocked down, when I’ve been nearly crushed. My gut-reaction was to cover up those “cracks” left behind, to hide the pain and scars from others so that no one would need to know what I’ve been through. Yet, the more I heal and the more I see the pain in the lives of others, I have started to have a change of heart.
What if instead of plastering on a smile and covering up our “stuff,” we lean into the fact that we have some cracks, that we’ve had some broken pieces from our life experiences? What if instead of expecting my neighbor to have it all together, I recognize that he probably has some cracks and broken pieces too? What if instead of thinking, “what’s wrong with her?” I reframe the question to, “what’s happened to her?”
This isn’t to give free reign for people to behave badly because of something they’ve experienced; but rather to acknowledge that we are all broken people in need of a Savior. That if we can begin to show some of our broken pieces, maybe the light and love of Christ can better shine through us.
Maybe instead of feeling as if we have to “hold it all together” so others can see we love Jesus, we can be authentic and know it’s actually okay to NOT be okay for the moment. Maybe someone else who is going through something needs to see that you don’t always have it together so they know you’re a safe person to reach out to for some help.
I think we need to consider if we only feel treasured when things are going our way… if we only feel like the light of Christ can shine through us when we’re “holding it all together.” If you’re like me, you might initially think, “I wouldn’t do that,” until you start looking at what you really allow others to see.
My “I wouldn’t do that” reaction starts to crumble when I’m honest about the fact that I’m a master at holding it all together and stuffing my feelings. For those who know the Enneagram, I’m a two, the helper. I thrive when I’m taking care of others, and I’m really good at sensing what other people need. I’m not so good at recognizing my own needs, though. I’m a work in progress, because I’ve been working on myself and trying not to stuff and hide my feelings. A work.in.progress indeed. I truly believe that I will not only be a better me for being authentic in this way, but that I’ll be better in ministry as I continue allowing some of the brokenness to show, for the purpose of sharing with others that what I do isn’t because of me, it’s because of Jesus.
I’ve been Bible journaling for quite some time now, and I need this visual reminder sometimes: that it’s okay to not hold it all together, because I’m more beautiful for having been broken … because the light of Christ shines in the darkness through my struggles.
What if we begin to see that our crown of beauty from ashes, that our treasure in clay pots is bigger and stronger than even the best self we put forward? What if by going on mission experiences and daily living that type of servanthood we don’t hide our flaws, but we allow the light of Jesus to shine through those things?
What if we live like we are treasured, not because we “have it all together,” but because Jesus lives in us?