Monday, March 21, 2011

The Art of Receiving

How fickle my soul and how woozy my eyes
I stuggle to find any truth in your lies
and now my heart stumbles on things I don't know
this weakness I feel I must finally show
- Mumford and Sons "Awake My Soul"

And I cannot decide where my heart will abide
Close to you is comfortable and safe...but just not right
- JJ Heller "The Last Time"

So again, a few weeks' time has passed between my posts, and I can't seem to feel guilty for it, though I admit I haven't tried much.  The past few weeks have been very revealing to me on the state of myself - my personality, my morality, my will, my spirituality...even my very soul.  I am a fickle creature.  I am selfish beyond all else.  I am prideful, I am spiteful, I am a liar.  I am so very human and so very sinful.

I've probably known these things for my whole life - in fact, I'm sure that I have.  I've never made light of the fact that I am human despite being a Christian.  I have never denied being a sinner or tried to make someone think that I was better than them (at least on purpose).  But in the last few weeks, I've come face-to-face, quite closely, I might add, with just how much I desire my sin.  For years, I've prayed (admittedly, half-heartedly) that God would teach me to hate my sin, that He would move in me to be inclined toward goodness, and not wrong, and I suppose, somewhere along the way, I stopped praying for what I considered an "imaginary fruit", something that would never come to fruition.

I've never been one for confession.  I guess I've always figured that because I tend to be judgmental of other Christians, everyone else is too, so why do they have to know what bad things I've done that I struggle to be sorry for?  However, I think God knew that about me, and brought me to the point that the sin that I should hate, the sin I've held to and felt comforted by (like the JJ Heller song above), shamed me.  It required confession - not only to God, but to another believer.  It required humbling myself to the body of Christ and receiving their wrath.  Except, when I went to do that, there was no wrath.  In response to my shamed confession, I received only grace.  In all honesty, I had no idea what to do with it.

It was a life changing experience in that I think, in the week(s) since that moment, I've learned to extend the same grace.  Not just in name, as I have before, but in practice.  I've forgiven more completely for things I'd already "forgiven" and done what I can to listen less judgmentally, and I'm very glad for that change.

However, sin isn't that easy.  It's not a once and done kind of experience, though I wish it was.  The grace that I received in response to my confession was a gift, and I am a selfish sinner.  I take my gifts and they're never enough.  In fact, even as I type this, I acknowledge that my sinful self takes the receipt of grace from a friend as a "get out of jail free" card - so I can go, sin again, and experience the absolution once more.

I know I'll need it.  I know I'll need to confess again.  But in the meantime, I'm still praying for God to help me hate my sin, because all I want to naturally do is exploit the grace I've been afforded, and that defeats the purpose, now doesn't it? 

Please....make this the last time.
So take my through this shadowland
I pray that you will hold my hand
and teach me to be who I am in You...
- JJ Heller "The Last Time"

Bind up these broken bones
Mercy bend and breathe me back to life
but not before You show me how to die...
- Audrey Assad "Show Me"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


So, my life has been pretty crazy these last few weeks.  I've been working more than normal, and I spent a weekend away, as well as caught up on some housework, so it's been productive, though my blog has been neglected.

It seems like the overarching theme I can think of for that time is about the word "nice".  It kind of amazes me how different its meanings can be. 

For instance, those who know me well know that I struggle with being "nice" to some people, especially those who I feel have wronged or mistreated me.  Nice, in that sense, is kind, Christlike.  Not something easy...something to work toward.

Last weekend, I spent some time with a new friend from work.  It was nice in a totally different kind of way...a relaxed, comfortable, unforced kind of way.  Nice can be that too, I guess.

Nice can mean fine, like when a person wants "nice things."  Nice can mean not rude, like when you don't have anything nice to say so you don't say anything at all.  Nice can mean pleasurable, or friendly, or refined.  It just amazes me how broad the word really is.

And for me, over the last 2 weeks, "nice" has meant all of these things in one way or another.  Nothing is really too outstanding, but it's all been nice.

Additionally, I have realized yet another truth about myself that requires that I have grace for me: I'm not nearly as sure or content as I think I am.  Just the second I become comfortable and content, something comes along that has me wanting something different.  And the fact of the matter is that sometimes, I will make the wrong choice.  Today, I'm trying to accept that.  Today, I'm learning to have grace for both the niceties in my life, as well as for my future.