We tried to tell her. We tried to warn her. We tried our best to get her to listen. We flapped our arms and raised our voice. We even slapped her around just a little bit--not much though--just enough to get her to stop.
She's always doing it:
Oh, but the list goes on.
She doesn't work out enough.
She's a procrastinator.
She talks too much.
She makes herself look like an idiot.
She doesn't spend enough time with her family.
She doesn't cook home meals.
She doesn't invite people over to her house.
She doesn't take vacations.
She doesn't keep her house spotless.
And to top it all off, she drives way too fast and passes over-sized loads on the shoulder.
The worst challenge, the most difficult person we will ever be forced to face, is That Woman we stare at everyday in the mirror.
She's a sly one, That Woman, and far too often we find ourselves in a love/hate relationship with the eyes staring back at us in the morning as we brush our teeth.
I'm not here today writing to compel you to accept That Woman and love her completely as she is. I think we should all love ourselves. We should all accept our personality. We should all accept our flaws, but we also have to remember that we are all on a journey to become more like Christ--to become less like ourselves and more like Him. So to just say that you must accept That Woman and not choose to be transformed into the image of Christ is flawed.
Paul wrote in Romans 7:15, "I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate." Sometimes we do live out the actions we hate. We're human. We mess up and sometimes a lot. But it's in this journey, this walk up a long hill, that I really want to write about today.
Last week, I found myself sitting at a table with a group of women at a retreat. I love all of these women so much. We have too much fun. Literally, too much fun. The retreat center was very large and there were multiple retreats happening at the same location. We all had separate living quarters, but we shared the dining hall. One of the other retreats that occurred on the same camp ground was a men's retreat.
We're sitting at this table and in walk the gentlemen. I'm not the only single woman at the retreat, but the odds were definitely against me. It's just kind of a joke that most "still single" woman (and especially in the church) have to face is the uh-which-one-do-you-like game. For the most part, I'm fine with it. It's just for fun. Plus, I have my share of celebrity and not celebrity crushes too. The rouse is usually the same. I say in a hushed voice, "Maybe table 2, but let me show you a picture of who I'm really after."
It's always great fun. Everybody always laughs. By the end of the conversation it's usually very loud.
After the guffawing quieted down I sat back in my seat and look around the table I was sitting at. It felt like every single eye was on me judging me.
Now, I know they weren't. I know those woman love me. I know they value me. And I love and value them. But there was something about the stillness of their eyes that made me feel about three inches tall. And then I said, under my breath, "I just hate when I make myself feel like a fool."
And I do. I hate that. I do it a lot, but I hate it. I hate that action about myself. But, I'm working on it.
On this life journey there has to be a level of grace that we extend to ourselves. We have to give ourself grace grow. We have to give ourself grace to take the journey. We're not going to get everything right all the time. In fact, we're going to get life and this journey wrong most of the time. Still, we have to give ourself grace to develop into the women of God we are called to be.
We can only live in that grace when we start to accept who we are in Christ and to abide in That Truth. We have to live in That Truth.
I love what Ann Voskamp wrote about the practicing of abiding in Christ. She wrote:
Abide. Because it's never about your capabilities. When you're in covenant with Christ, it's His responsibility to cover your cracks, to be all your competency and completeness. Inabilities, in Christ, are made all-sufficient, just-right abilities. Abandon worry--and wholly abide.
Jesus said it Himself in John 15:17, "Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who abides in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing."
There's a freedom that comes from recognizing and accepting that without Christ I can do nothing. There is equal freedom in recognizing and accepting that in Christ I can do all things. In the journey, we all have roles to take. We all have positions to play, but ours is never to judge ourselves or others. Our role is never to lead. It's always to rest. It's always to follow. It's always to abide.
When we give grace to ourselves and accept That Truth and learn to abide--to rest-- in Christ, it sure does make That Woman easier to live with on this journey of grace and abiding.
Let's continue this conversation. Share one example when you had to abide in Jesus to lead you on this journey of grace.