There’s a lot to be said about this façade of strength we live under and place on each other on a daily basis. We can’t be imperfect, we can’t be weak, we have to know everything and accomplish everything possible. Because of this, we make sure those who don’t appear, speak or outwardly behave in this manner are substandard and must be reminded. What is it about this clamoring to the top of this “success” ladder that gives permission to step, stomp and knock down those we feel uncomfortable around? Are we insecure about their known accomplishments in life? Maybe it’s their financial status, the size of their home, how well behaved their children are or they eat ALL organic food? Do those things make us feel less than them? Their journey is different than ours, why are we comparing ourselves to them?
Maybe it’s not those who are “successful” that are intimidating. Maybe it’s those who are broken (aka “Screw-Ups”). Do those who have faults and failures in their past and present bother you? Are you looking at them in a different way because you heard things about them that now you just can’t treat them the way you used to? Do you find yourself thinking less of them because of what you think you know? Does that make you feel better in your life’s journey when you can say to yourself, “Whew, at least I never did/said _______!”? I have three questions for this scenario. One: Have you ever walked with them in their life to understand who they are? Two: Do you believe God measures sin? Three: Do you believe God likes to use broken people?
God does not measure sin, nor does he track it. His Unconditional Love and Grace are so much bigger than this miniscule thing. When we believe the Gospel the correct way, our living is a direct manifestation of His goodness. The ones that keep climbing and falling is usually a combination of wrong believing and being beat up by judgmental people. Before you compare your lack of sins to the sins of others, you best tread lightly. (John 8:7-11) Avoiding the Gossip Train and walking along side someone will give you great insight to this complicated life. We too often jump to judging before we get to compassion. Skip the first and move directly to compassion and tell yourself, “I can learn something new, I don’t know it all.”
Some people will talk, preach and act like they know what Grace is but typically won’t have an ounce of it manifest out of their mouths, attitudes or behavior. It’s easier to think poorly of someone based on an assumption or something you heard they did rather than seek out the truth. Even though the truth can be nasty sometimes, it can set you free from judgment and humiliation, depending on what side you are sitting on. If we can avoid justification and move straight to repentance, that freedom will be found. Justification is the enemy’s counterfeit for repentance. We find our knee-jerk reaction is the first for fear of humiliation, but if you refrain, you will see the Lord likes to turn your humiliation into Humility. Being broken and humble allows for His light and love to shine through you more. Too many are terrified of this, terrified of the judgment. So many people have to be in control, they have to make their appearance perfect, hiding all their cracks, bruises and blemishes, so many unwilling to be vulnerable. This whole performance-for-acceptance society, plastering our seemingly perfect life on social media, our photo-shopped selfies, hoping for some compliments to help dull the emptiness you feel deep inside when what you really want and are searching for is someone who is genuine. You want someone willing to sit with you while you fall apart through your heartbreak and life’s struggles while your hair is standing on end, no makeup on your face and in your mismatched pajamas. We all desperately want that honest, loving, non-judgmental, secret-keeping, GRACIOUS person in our lives. We all crave others to be that, to show us that Grace, yet, we all struggle to show it ourselves. How can we be something we don’t understand or something we don’t quite believe we are worth receiving?
This is the conclusion I had come to in understanding the deception I had swallowed throughout my life. The thoughts of: “I couldn’t be worth being treated with that, I didn’t deserve it because I was such a screw-up, I will mess up anything good that comes my way, yada, yada, yada!” Lies, lies, lies! Anything the enemy can use, he will in order to keep you from grasping a hold of what the Gospel is truly about. The Gospel of Grace…undeserved, unmerited, unearned favor! Grace did it all so we don’t have to. Grace came and covered ALL sins so we don’t have to pay the price for them. Grace defeated death so we have life eternally. Grace fills our souls with unconditional love, and accepts us because all our faults and failures were pieced together and perfected at The Cross. Once you grasp this overwhelming truth of how God sees you, the thoughts you may have of yourself are silenced and the opinions of others fade to the background so distantly they become a whisper you simply cannot hear. When you finally come to the end of yourself, you find who you were created to be and an indescribable freedom from all that was holding you back. You will then see the beautiful, broken vessel that you are, fall in love with all those cracks and have a joy wash over you in knowing you can now be pieced back together into something so much more!
Look at others in their mess and think what you will, but the Lord loves us in our messes. In flipping through the Bible from Genesis all the way through you will find nothing short of imperfect, broken people being used mightily by God. People around you may be attempting to dictate to you what you are allowed or not allowed to do because of their need to inflict judgment, but know this; they cannot control how brightly God’s light shines through all your breathtaking cracks! You may not be people’s first choice, but you’re God’s. His plans for your life are specific! There is nothing you can say or do to make Him change his mind. Some of our cracks are self-inflicted because of bad choices, but the Potter just adds a little more clay and spins us around a few more times to get us back to where we were to start with. Don’t be discouraged if you have more than others. I believe in this case, more can be better because more means more lessons and more wisdom. You will be used in your shattered state, in the midst of your repair and when you have been put back together.
I am more at peace in my brokenness than I ever was in my own selfish attempts of repair. It’s too hard to look perfect and put together and you will never succeed.
His restoration is always better than the original.
“…I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)