Sunday, October 21, 2012

Poisonous Perfection

I had it all together. I was the youth group student leader, Bible Study teacher, AWANA Cubbies helper, missions committee member, once-a-year-every-year short-term missions trip participant, Jr. Church teacher, small group leader, advice giver, counseler, devotional writer, Christian website administrator, campaign coordinator, twice-a-week church going girl. This was me. I was "perfect." No, really, those around me used the word to describe me more than once. I "had it all together." My family life was one of encouragement, support, and joy. My friendships were deep, loving, and wonderful. I never made a mistake - or, at least, that was the impression of those around me. Life was good. I was serving the King. My days were bliss.

And then I came to the end of myself. This "perfect" life had become a poison. I cringe when I think of how easily others considered me to be this perfect girl who led a perfect life. How disgusting. How fake. How unloving and pious and ugly and ungenuine. How Pharaisaical. How displeasing to the Lord. It was an oxymoron of a life, really; I was striving so hard to please the Lord so perfectly that, in the process, I was really only displeasing Him.

Why do I say that? Because the Lord desires a relationship with us - a pure, humble, genuine relationship. He desires that we live in unity and love with one another. This includes serving, yes; it also sometimes includes letting our guards down, admitting that we truly are not perfect, and in humility considering others better than ourselves. This wasn't me. I was the girl with all of her walls up, never admitting any failures with anyone, and always (even if subconsciously) considering herself to be leading a much better, pure life than those around her.

How disgusting. How fake and unloving and pious and ugly and displeasing to the Lord.

"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).

Ouch. Those words are like a piercing arrow to my heart. Really. It hurts. Again, it's an oxymoron, but although this verse hurts my heart because I know that I am prideful, it also just plain hurts my pride. God opposes me? No way. That is impossible. And in my stubborn pride I once again go back to my pharaisaical, Martha way of living.

How disgusting. How fake and unloving and pious and ugly and displeasing to the Lord.

How untruthful. In putting on the facade of "having it all together" and "never making a mistake" and "living a perfect life," I was living a complete and flat-out lie.

The truth is, I am not perfect. In bringing me to Moody Bible Institute, the Lord has been bringing me to terms with that fact. Here, I am broken. I am so, so imperfect. I thought that I knew everything there was to know about the Bible; every day, I am continuing to learn more and as a result, realizing just how much I do not know. I thought that I was a brilliant teacher; I have taken Studying and Teaching the Bible and Message Preparation for Women and have been brought to some of my lowest points in realizing how ineloquent I am. I thought that I was a wonderful leader; I am continually humbled every day by the amazing men and women of the Lord around me who lead in a way that I have never seen, let alone have been able to do myself. I thought that I was strong and unable to be broken by anyone or anything; thank the Lord, that isn't true either.

The truth is, I am more broken now than I ever have been in my life. The Lord has stripped me down of everything that I ever was or thought I was and is continually, slowly building me back up into who He wants me to be. It's beautiful. It's painful. It's lovely and it's hard and it's necessary. I do not want to enter the Lord's presence one day having lived my life as a lie before others - having put on the facade that somehow I am the only one on the planet who truly has it together. Because the truth is, only the Lord Jesus Christ truly had it all together. We are broken people in need of a Savior to make us whole. Thank the Lord, He has sent us that Savior.

In my brokenness, I am free. In my shortcomings and failures and mistakes, I am human. In my desperation and repentance to the Lord, I am healed. In my admittance to those around me that I am imperfect, I am free - free to love others and to be loved in return. What a burden has been lifted off of my shoulders - and only because it has been placed on the One who walked to Calvary for me. Praise Jesus. Thank you, Lord.

It brings tears to my eyes and a heaviness to my heart to think of this oxymoron of a life that I have lived. Pride is dangerous and subtle and directly of the Enemy of our souls, who desires to see us living these pent-up lives of poisonous perfection. Why? Because he is a liar and he desires to see us live our lives as liars. But why would anyone ever want to be like the pious, judgmental, perfect Christians that they see? It only offers more shame - just what the Enemy wants. This is why I call it a poison. It permeates the Church and leaves the rest of the world in resistance of ever wanting to follow the Christ that all of these unloving, lieing, perfect Christians claim to love and follow.

It pains me. May I live my days in the freedom and love of the Lord who makes this imperfect, shallow, unloving, prideful heart whole. As a result, the walls around my heart will be knocked down, giving room for the Lord to enter as King and others to enter my life. I will be more free and able to love and be loved by others and by my Savior.

I thought that I was too strong, too "put together," too tough to ever be broken. Today, I am thanking God that that isn't so.


Mom said...

And today Molly I am so very very thankful for you and your words of encouragment. In your brokeness,my heart is also broken and I thank you for sharing so much of youself and Gods word. I am so very very Blessed by you and I love you so very very much!

Kimberly Wagner said...

Dearest Molly,

Thank you for sharing your heart here. It is beautifully painful to experience God mercifully opening our eyes to our blindspots and challenging us to join Him in the light. It requires letting go of our ugly cloak of self-fabricated pride but it allows Him to robe us in His work of sanctification.

In confessing and coming into the light, we are "transformed by the Spirit of the Lord in ever-increasing splendor into His own image" (2 Cor. 3:18).

Thank you so much for sharing dear friend. It is a joy to see Him at work in your life!

Vivian Etherington said...

Wow, Molly! As I was reading this post, you were pretty much writing my story! One difference is that I had learn a very hard way. Brokenness is really beautiful and so necessary. Yes, it is painful to have your eyes opened to your utter sinfulness, but it is so worth it for the sweet fellowship with Christ. Thank you for articulating so beautifully and transparently about God's work in you. I am a friend of Kim Wagner's--thank you for your work of administrating her site. Huge blessing!