Every healing begins with an admission. Every turning point starts with a desperation cry. Every victory is proceeded by a confession of failure - a recognition that it's humanly impossible to overcome the weight of one's own faults and sins. It's the Alcoholics Anonymous first step to getting sober: the ability to admit that one is an alcoholic, not just that one has a drinking problem. Because it's easy to excuse away the deepest weakness of one's flesh when one only faces the problem in part...when one only calls the issue a portion of what it actually is.
As many of you are aware, this blog has become a forum of admission for myself and those who read it regularly. (And I hope it becomes more of such in the future!) I speak often of my own failings here because I find that my own experience isn't all that unlike that of my readers...we're all struggling in some way to find progress in our journey to Grace; we're all striving to be a better version of ourselves each day - and falling miserably in the process. But all along, we're discovering an incredibly patient and merciful God whose love continues to forgive and renew us in spite of all the times we come short of who we want to become for Him! He accepts us regardless, yet values us too much to keep us where we are. And so, this blog celebrates failure and the Grace which redeems it (in all of us) on a daily basis.
Well...today you're going to get a big admission from me. And perhaps you may make the same yourself:
I. Am. A. Fearful. Person.
I've always had a very confident personality, and I've always been the type who was a can-do individual. I've never shied away from a task I felt was worth tackling and I've always experienced relative success in most things I undertook. As a result, I didn't think of myself as being fearful. I could speak comfortably in front of hundreds of people, write important letters to world leaders, meet new people with ease, etc - all things that many others would find terrifying.
But then again...I've perhaps disguised my fears more than I realized over the years. In the last decade, I've had many personal experiences that have turned me into a person who is afraid of many things. I'm only recently realizing how many there actually are...
And I'm also beginning to understand that as much as I ask God for a change of heart, my first response to much of life is set on "Fear." Faith is secondary to it. It takes me much talking to myself to get myself to move beyond the "what if" factor. I question everything. Because I've been hurt enough that I expect even the good things in life to turn sour at some point. Sadly, even as many times as God has demonstrated His willingness to give blessings and good gifts to this child of His, I appreciate it for a short time before switching back to, "Thanks God, but will this also be taken away?"
This negative response to even the sweet things of life has placed emotional barriers to my relationships. Even the closest friends in my life have, at some time or another, probably noticed the hesitancy, the resistance, the distance. I've let them in closer than others, yet I still have refused to trust their love to the extent that I should. I have experienced their care and yet still thought on more than one occasion, "Others left, so why wouldn't this person leave at some point too?" My past fears have trickled over into my present fears and my fears of the future. I am a fearful person.
More than just the human relationships, I have treated God and His good gifts in my life this way too. Even when He continues to show up and turn all things - the bad and the good - into blessings meant for me as tokens of His love, I still receive them with fear. I am living a question mark instead of an exclamation point. I am a fearful person.
Now that I've admitted such, I'm also realizing that perhaps now I can find myself advancing a bit in this desire to dare greatly, to do life big, and to face all fears with a mighty faith that only God can give. Victory isn't always achieved by determination. Sometimes one must actually be honest and humble enough to see that they can't achieve what they hope to be without leaving it in God's hands. We all admit that we can't change apart from God, but we often see it as a partnership instead of a sovereign submission. We see as mostly God but with help from us instead of realizing that we have no power of our own to make ourselves transform. We only lead ourselves to our own ruin. God actually needs no assistance from us...only a willing and surrendered heart. And often, He does His best work when we are at our personal end and cannot go any further. Then, He does more because we've become less.
Claiming defeat in the spiritual life is actually the first step to achieving victory. Reminding ourselves that God fights the battles of our weakness for us and that we need only to stand and be still (Exodus 14:14) is really where we will begin to relax and stop trying so hard to do it on our own. God wants us to give up ...in the sense that we quit trying to do His part and rather accept all of ourselves for His sake. Learn to live with ourselves and be okay with not being okay. I'm not fine, and neither are you. As the great theologian D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said,
"The fact that you have become a Christian does not mean that you cease to have to live with yourself. You will have to live with yourself as long as you are alive, and yourself is your self and not somebody else's self."
We're all broken people living in this fallen world and trying to see through to God, but just maybe we could find ourselves further along if we simply accept the fact that we will always live with our failures until the day God calls us out of this world. We will struggle with our weaknesses forever till such time as we leave this earth. As much as we wish ourselves to be better people than we are, it's still a fact that we're always be a worse version of ourselves than we'd hope for. Yet we are powerfully loved more than we dare believe. God just may leave us tied to our greatest struggle so that we are forever reminded of His necessary provision and grace in our lives.
My biggest struggle is fear. I. Am. A. Fearful. Person. I'm asking God for greater trust yet realizing I'll keep failing in that belief because I'm a sinner. Thank God for grace though, right?!
I don't know what you're issue is. You may be only recently discovering it, or it may have traveled with you for a very long time. Either way, remember that there is enough grace in God to accept even the worst part of yourself and surrender to the Healer's touch. Don't be afraid to admit the worst about yourself. Because God already knows about it - and He died for all of it on the cross. Your defeat is His victory. Your loss is Heaven's gain. You are not responsible for your own life-change, and it's perfectly alright to be mistrusting of yourself. Because that's where faith can blossom and God's ability can shine through!