Welcome to the end of September. So far, we’ve survived a thousand year flood and a government shutdown. Yay!
In other news, this month was also the one-year anniversary of my dad totaling his car and leaving the scene with nothing but a tib-fib fracture and the rest of his life to live. Yay!
In other news, God gave me two jobs this month. I also started a LIFE Group with my buddy Brittany. I snuck into a brewery and wandered around Denver (long story…). I played a lot of drums. I met a guy from Dublin. I slept for about nine cumulative days. I FINALLY finished The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. (Woo!!) I visited with various individuals from out of town, and ate various meals with them. Yay!
I also took a bunch of panoramic pictures on a bike ride:
So that was memorable.
But I would honestly say I’ll probably remember this month as a month of making mistakes. Making mistakes, mourning over them, and trying to make sense of them. I think, though, that God has not only given me tons of clarity about these mistakes, but has also drawn me closer to Himself quite nicely.
To my college friends: If you think that, when you graduate, you’ll be confident and ready to face your job, you’re wrong.
First of all, you’re back at the bottom of the totem pole. Like a big-nosed man or a winged bird. Second of all, any time you go from academia to a job, it’s a transition, and experience must be your teacher. Though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hit the books, because that’s an experience in itself. (I’m actually starting to miss reading scientific journals. Now that they’re not free anymore. Read them or print them or cite them while you can.)
My job at Mad Hatter Agency has been an adjustment, for sure. I’ve had to act like I know about what I do (which, in doing so, I’ve realized I actually do know a lot.) And I’ve had to learn a lot of new things about it, soo. But I’ve also had to get a feel for the culture of my work, people’s personalities, levels of power and authority, and what is considered acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
It kind of makes me feel like a little kid at the table, trying to learn manners by watching and imitating everybody.
I’ve also learned some lessons the hard way in trying to help run a ministry. Like that seeking counsel from leaders will help me see things I can’t see with just one pair of eyes. But I’m glad I’m learning them now, rather than later when I have more influence and more people under my care.
I’ve embarrassed myself quite a bit. Which isn’t fun. But on the other hand, trying to navigate this pressure to grow up, coupled with teaching a class of 3-year-olds at MOPS, has helped me relate to kids. I used to be afraid of ever being a mom, mainly because I just did not feel competent enough to raise kids. But a little competence goes a long way to increase my confidence. 🙂
Speaking of confidence. God’s spirit in me has also opened my eyes to an attitude I’ve had that I need t— I mean, that I’m excited to watch God change. And that is this.
Pride. It comes in many forms. C.S. Lewis says that every last sinful act, thought, or attitude can be boiled down to pride. I agree.
Pride is when you consider yourself any more or any less important than you really are, relatively speaking. The thing is, we were created in God’s image, which means we human beings have infinite value. I don’t think you can ever overestimate your value as a person, because, according to God, you are worth just as much as the life of His own Son. Because that’s the price your good master paid to purchase you from other master, sin. (1 Corinthians 6:20.)
I say “relatively speaking” because we can still get our priorities out of order. If I think I’m any more important than any other human being in the world, I’m wrong. This is pride. Why? Because God paid the same penalty for all of us (John 3:16). He put the same price tag on each human being, determining that, no matter what we’re worth to society or to others, each human being is worth the world to Him, is worth giving up everything for, is worth dying for.
How dare I defy God by telling Him that I think He’s wrong about me, the human race, or anything else HE owns the blueprints for? How dare I tell God to His face that He’s wrong, and I’m right?
In the same way, If I think I’m any less important than any other human being in the world, I’m wrong. This is also pride. And I am telling God that I know better than He does who I am. Which is not true. I don’t know how many hairs are on my head at every given moment of my life. Do you? He does. I don’t know exactly why I love ketchup, care deeply about justice, or don’t particularly like cats. I don’t know all the different chemicals that are keeping me alive right now. And I didn’t choose to put them in my body. But I’m glad He knows who I am and what I need better than me.
This month, I’ve been paranoid. I would go as far as saying I’ve been morally self-conscious. Is what I’m doing good? Is what I’m doing bad? It’s not wrong to evaluate. But this has caused me to think of myself disproportionately. My self has taken up too many rooms in my brain. More rooms than it really needs. It has all its boxes everywhere up in there.
God is more valuable than I am; should He not, for this very reason, consume the majority of my thoughts? Does He not claim ownership of every single room in my brain?
I was purchased by God (1 Corinthians 6:20); should He not, therefore, claim most — even ALL — of my headspace? My desires? My daily activities? My worldview? My glory and praise? He deserves them all.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt embarrassed this month for mistakes I’ve made. It’s caused me to fawn over everyone’s attention, affection, appreciation, and affirmation (1 Cornithians 7:23). These things aren’t bad, but when I start to become this vacuum for people’s energy, it’s not good. I start doing “good” things for selfish, personal gain (Philippians 2:3).
And it shows that I’m not getting these things from the right place: God. He is the only person who will NEVER be drained by me, who will ALWAYS provide lavishly for every need, emotional and otherwise, and will FOREVER delight in being with me, and having my heart belong to Him (since I was purchased) and no one else. (John 14:3-4)
This is one source of my pride: Putting my needs before the needs of others. It’s only natural, yes. But since when does “natural” equate to “right?” And since when is “doing what feels natural” all of a sudden the best, and the least misleading, way to live my life (Romans 1:21-25; 3:10)? When I press into the Lord, when I let Him direct me, despite what’s natural, I can receive more than enough of His love, and with that surplus, I can give to others, others who have just as much right to His love as I do (in other words, none. We only get His love because of grace. Not because we deserve it. So we’re still equal. We have no rights, but we were granted they key to the whole kingdom anyway.)
My moral self-consciousness has also led me to focus on what I am accomplishing more than on the most crucial thing: What Christ has already accomplished on the cross.
That is, the gospel. Everything that really needed to be done to save the world… was done on that cross. So what am I doing flopping around? I can rejoice. It is finished. τετελεσται!
Self-consciousness is paralyzing. I could spend my whole life asking myself things like, “Should I have added that totally unrelated music video to that old blog post I wrote at 3am? Maybe I should delete it.” Or thinking things like, “I can’t believe I spent that much money on a bunch of cardboard boxes. I am never going to mail anything to anyone ever again.” But I would not only be letting those boxes rob me of my money, but also of my joy, neither of which they deserve to own. And in addition, I’d be missing out on a freeing, obvious truth:
IT’S NOT ABOUT ME.
What is my life in comparison to the everlasting God’s life? Psalm 37:1-2; 102:11;
What is the universe in comparison to God? Isaiah 24:4; 34:4.
What is the purpose of the nations, of human society, of history, of the human race? Exodus 29:46. Isaiah 49:23. Isaiah 49:26. Jeremiah 9:24. Jeremiah 24:7. Ezekiel 6:10 20:20; 24:27; 28:24; 38:23.
So that’s big.
In conclusion, no matter how embarrassed I make myself, I’m going to keep on praising God with the way I live.
No matter how many people I’ve offended in the past, I’m gonna keep on loving relentlessly.
Yes, I’ll evaluate how I’m doing and try to be more strategic next time; that’s part of loving relentlessly (a part that is, alas, oft overlooked by Christ followers). But I won’t let fear keep me from loving (1 John 4:18).
I’m going to keep pointing people to God, and bringing every aspect of my life back to him, so that they may know HE is God.
I’m going to keep desperately relying on God’s strength and power through me, because, although I’m utterly inept, He is sufficiently capable. He is capable of manufacturing universes; surely He is capable of turning this little oblivious girl into someone who reflects His glory, love, and might. No matter how much I sin or how much I accomplish, I will put my confidence NOT in myself and my abilities to do things right the first time or to patch up holes the next.
I will keep putting my confidence in the Lord, the only one who can ever bring this world to justice, who can punish evil, who can restore the broken, and who saved my heart from the gates of Hell. (Proverbs 3:26)
But to pretend I can hold back that kind of power with my stubborn little hands?
Now that’s pride.