By Mandy Woodhouse
Wow, I realized today, Saturday the 29th of December 2007, that
I am truly flawed.
I had brunch with my dear friend Kia today. We often try to meet up once a week or at least a fortnight to chat about life. I love meeting with Kia because it's one of those great friendships that's just not hard (well, it shouldn't be hard after having shared a room for two years!). I always enjoy meeting up with Kia, and today was much overdue.
We chatted about all sorts of things, or should I say I chatted about all sorts of things. However, it was at a specific point.45 minutes into the meeting after all my eggs were gone and she had licked all the yoghurt off her spoon while I played with the burnt crusts of my left over toast and our skin tingled as it baked in the beach sun. when I realized that my meeting with Kia had been just that. MY time with Kia. I found myself asking her (finally) how she was doing and if she enjoyed Christmas and how long her break was for and what Church service she'd be at over the weekend and if she was planning on going to be on the beach all of that afternoon. I didn't feel guilty or obliged (I love Kia and was genuinely interested in her day), but that's when it hit me. The revelation was quite firm and heavy, yet it was also a refreshing wave that came crashing down on me I am flawed.
Before I go any further, I just want to make it very clear that I haven't spent 29 years thinking that I am perfect. In fact, I've probably spent my first 19 years of life thinking that I was screwed up. I went on to spend the next 5 years thinking that no one could see my imperfections if I just became a "leader" in Church, or a pastor or minister of some sort (yes yes I know, flawed AND daft), and then I spent the last 3 years in Australia struggling to renew my mind and unravel the heavily twisted knot of lies that I had always been told and believed about myself, especially the lie that I had something to prove to make up for my failures. So when I say at age 29 that I am "flawed," what I'm really saying is that I am actually learning to be FREE.
I had a conversation awhile back with my amazing husband about our sin nature. I remember quoting something that I had heard at one of my past Churches back home that I thought was quite profound. The quote, which I was certain would impress my husband, actually showed the measure to which I believed lies in my heart. The quote, which I had thought brought me freedom, actually confirmed a lie that I had believed about my identity in Christ. Since that time, while I'm sure my amazing man has prayed for my "lights to come on" so to speak, I have wrestled with pride.
Perhaps author Beth Moore puts it best: "The most effective means the enemy has to keep believers from being full of the Holy Spirit is to keep us full of ourselves." Jeremiah 49:16 says that the pride in your heart deceives you. I always thought that being "full of yourself" meant either thinking too highly of yourself (conceit or vanity), or putting down on yourself (false humility). But what I've been learning lately is that our heart deceives us when we fight in our own strength to hide or justify the very thing that Jesus died to set us free from our flawed selves.
Too much of my life has been spent trying to prove that I am "above" my flaws, hence putting a pressure on myself that has often had me internally tied in knots, even literally sick in bed. Somehow my mind knew that I was flawed, but the lie I had believed said that since I am now a "saint" in Christ (and a Church LEADER at that), I was only expected to sin occasionally. As you can imagine, this is hellish torture for someone as selfish as me! And I use the term "hellish" because that's exactly where the lie and torture belongs in the pits of hell.
I've also been reading a book called "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller. If you haven't read it, you simply must. This book is a God-send for me because the author is so incredibly real. Personally, I've never lied about my failures; I've just learned to manipulate and use my flaws to make me appear to be "real," therefore a more noble "leader", which then (in my twisted thoughts) somehow may prove to others that I am "ok" despite my failures, if that makes sense. Little did I realize that I was metaphorically returning the chains to my wrists and ankles that Jesus had already taken off of me. "God's most liberated servants are those who also know they have nothing to prove" (Beth Moore again).
I just read Romans chapters 7 & 8 with new eyes. "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do good but I cannot carry it out. What a wretched man I am! Who will save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
As one of my favorite pastors once spontaneously shouted out at me in a Bible College lecture, "YOU WILL STUFF UP! YOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES! Your only hope is GRACE." And it's because of this grace that I can say over and over again, I am flawed, I am flawed, I am flawed, I am flawed, I am flawed, I am flawed, I am flawed, I am flawed, I am flawed, I am flawed, I am flawed, I am flawed, I am flawed, I am flawed, I am flawed, I am flawed!
I'm really glad that I had brunch with Kia today. I'm glad my husband has been praying for me, and I'm glad for books like "Blue Like Jazz." I'm glad that I can admit to you that I'm selfish. I can openly say that I usually think about my own pleasures, I am a coward when it comes to confrontation, and I often worry too much what others think of me. I am FLAWED and that fact makes Jesus (and myself) so much more beautiful to me J
Mandy Woodhouse is just a normal girl living in Sydney, Australia, who loves Jesus and wants to honor Him with her writing and with her life.