A few nights ago I was laying with my youngest Elijah to coax him to sleep. He was restless and a little afraid, lying on the pallet we made for him at the end of the guest bed in my mom and dad’s basement. As I lay there I began processing, as I often do, about the ways the day went wrong, the ways in which I could have done it better, and I felt sick with regret. I have always seen life in pictures, always been a visual learner, a dreamer and a visionary. And so as I lay there, stewing on failure, thinking about the ways I had let down the people I love most, I saw myself staring into a mirror with my reflection scornfully and shamefully staring back at me. The image was a perfect and frightening reflection of the spirit of dismay and disdain I was inflicting upon myself. I lay there tormented for a moment and then I heard myself pray, as if my spirit were lurching out for the help my mind was too berated to reach for…
“Lord what do You want me to see?”
Instantly I saw my reflection in the mirror once more, but this time, I was in the embrace of Jesus and He beamed as he looked at us, as He looked at me. In this reflection there was nothing but the joy of ownership and the unconditional love of a father with His daughter.
In my sin, my failure, my wishing and hoping and longing to do it right, to be better, to be perfect and hating myself for all the places where I fall short, Jesus is clutching me with delight. As an answer to my prayer, “Lord what do you want me to see” He is calling me away from self-hatred and into the awareness of being the beloved of God. My truest reflection at the most despicable and self loathing moments of my life will always be grace.
Why do I share this with you?
Every year I come up with a mental list of how I will achieve and become that Kate I have always longed to be…the one I can’t ever seem to reach, the one standing right past the mirage of perfection. I come up with all the ways I will be a better wife, a better mother, a better friend, a better home maker, a better employee, a better…and on and on and on. And every year I look back with a sigh of shame. And then I grab my gusto and resolve and pray to be and do better. But twelve months and four seasons cycle through once more and I find myself standing on the border of December and January with the cold winds of remorse whipping through me once again. As much as I achieve and accomplish, I always wish I had been more gracious, more loving, more tender, more nurturing, more passionate, more forgiving…
But this year, this year hasto be different. This year my eyes have been opened to two simple truths, truths I have always known, and yet their power has been locked behind the bars of self- righteousness. Those truths are, I will never, ever be perfect and I will always, always be clutched in the arms of the One who is.
So this year my resolve, my to-do list is different than ever before. Instead of seeking to become someone new and better, I am seeking to consciously be the Kate that already is, the one clutched in the arms of Jesus. The one who is already approved, already made new, already forgiven and loved. I am seeking to live out the only perfection that has ever been and will ever be. I am seeking to rest in the arms of the One who died and rose again to redeem me, to set me free from the perfection I can never attain apart from Jesus. At the very heart of being a Christian is the cross- the dying to self perfection and resurrection to the truth that Christ’s life, in and through me is the only perfection I will ever need. And yet, I keep striving, keep slapping myself silly at failure…all the while Jesus is holding me and enveloping me with His unmerited favor and perfect love. The grace of God is calling me to go deeper. It is calling me to surrender the idea that my worth and value are measured by my performance and to float in the grace that has already once and for all stamped me approved.
Today as I awoke in these new thoughts and resolutions, another image came. I saw my roots digging deep in the soil of grace and I tapped into this stream of glorious living water, the presence and power of God and the branches of my life began growing rapidly. The truth here is, the growth I have always longed for, will in fact come as a result of resting and delving into the identity I already have as the beloved of God.
So, friends who make resolutions and hope to be better this year, I urge you to ask the question, what does my truest reflection look like? And I urge you to pray, “God show me what you want me to see.”
So here’s to 2014, that we would each grow deeper in His magnificent grace and therefore fuller in freedom, love and purpose than ever before.