A friend asked me recently to complete a personal assessment on her. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being you are doing very well in that area), how would I rate my friend on personal growth? on her faith? her marriage? How would I rate my friend's parenting? her friendships? how she handles her finances? How does my friend rate when it comes to impacting her community, and the world?
One difficulty I encountered in completing this assessment lay in the fact that this friend is such an extraordinary woman, a woman who has so greatly impacted my own life and faith, that I simply wanted to write, "10! 10! 10! ....." Of course, that probably wouldn't have been very helpful, and it wouldn't have given my friend anything to work with. It would have been like saying, "My friend is perfect! She's just exactly like Jesus!" (In which case, my friend would already be riding the Glory-vator to Heaven, instead of mucking about with folks like me, right?)
No, my friend is not perfect. I know that. But she is very much like Jesus. So much so, in fact, that there have been times - my kids can testify to this - times when I've stopped and asked myself, sometimes even out loud, "What would B--- do in this situation?" Sort of like the WWJD phenomenon, only more colloquial, more concrete to this feeble-sighted sister. I'm not really sure what Jesus would do in this situation, but I have a pretty good idea what B--- would do, and I know that she knows and loves Jesus.
Another difficulty I encountered was the distress I felt when I paused to think, "What if someone were asked to complete this assessment on me?" What if someone who knew me intimately sat down and truthfully rated me on my personal growth, my faith, my marriage, my parenting, my friendships, my impact on my community? I have children raised under my mothering who are struggling to live sane lives, and a marriage that is held together only by the grace of God. Yes, I feel like I am growing personally and in my faith...but through much, much brokenness. My "career"? I stand looking blankly at the road ahead of me with only questions: where does God want me to be? I'm grasping blindly for answers. My impact on my community, on the world? Maybe the equivalent of a grain of sand on a beach.
If someone assessed my life, I wouldn't be scoring any 10's, no 9's....nope, I'd be lucky to pull 3's and 4's. Just thinking about it makes me nauseated. I feel like I'm going to throw up. Now.
Ever feel totally naked, exposed, ashamed? Maybe nobody knows your personal weakness, the frailty of your faith, the selfishness of your heart, the narrowness of your vision or ministry, your absolute inadequacy to walk the path to which you've been called. Maybe nobody will ever be asked to do an assessment of you, praise God....but you know the truth. And sometimes, when you sit down and really think about it, it weighs you with such shame and guilt that you just want to puke.
I was blessed last weekend to attend a women's conference where Nancy Guthrie spoke to us from the book of Hosea. Nancy gently - but painfully - exposed the truth: I am Gomer. Sinful, willful, shameful, belligerent, insisting on believing the lies I tell myself. Maybe you don't see it, perched on the edge of my life, but I see it. I know my heart. Blech.
Thankfully - hallelujah! - Nancy also spoke to us of the God who loves just such women as Gomer. The God who pursues the Gomers of this world, woos them, even goes to market to purchase them back from slavery.
I love this encouragement from Hosea: Therefore, behold, I (God) will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her...And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me 'My Husband'... I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. (Hosea 2:14, 16, 19-20)
When my heart is weighed down with shame, with guilt, with frustration at my inclination to compromise, with an overwhelming sense of my own inadequacy, I have found one solace that unfailingly dispels the weight and gloom - meditating on the loveliness of my Betrothed. He loves me, and He is making all things new - my heart, my faith, my life, my relationships. Yes, I'm a mess, and there seems to be so much work yet to be done...but He has promised to faithfully complete every bit of it. He loves me.
He loves me.
And under the gaze of such wondrous love, there is no longer room for shame. There is only room for praise.
What wondrous love is this, O my soul! What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!
3 months ago