He’s like a Picasso..from far away it looks ok but up close its just a big mess. – Cher, Clueless
About a month ago, I had my face slapped with a revelation. I have little discipline in my life. Spiritual, mental, physical… you name it and I don’t have it. Perhaps this is a byproduct of being a creature that thrives well in the moment and doesn’t think much about the future. Or maybe I’m just lazy. It could be a dangerous combination of the two.
Either way, this lack of discipline has become painfully evident in almost every area of my life. The irony is as I was being self-righteous about how “pristine” my life was; my actions were saying the opposite. I was becoming a person I didn’t know. I was taking liberty where there was none and calling it freedom. At some point, I had made the decision that I was the ruler of my life and there was none beside me.
On the outside, I looked fine. Sure, there were cracks in the façade. I had family and friends who asked me about them. Yet I pushed them away, unwilling to dig into what was bubbling beneath the surface.
It is probably an understatement to say that a heart in the process of hardening itself isn’t cute. In fact it is pretty ugly. It made me depressed. It would be easy to blame it on my hormones and lay my problems at the feet of a hysterectomy was supposed to be the beginning of a new life, unfettered from health issues. As it turns out, I traded one set of issues for another. While, in almost every way, I’d rather be where I am today, this last year has been one I’d like to never relive again.
Part of the revelation I had was that most of the mistakes I’ve made have been born out of an irrational fear. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of missing out on something. Fear of not having the life I’ve thought I deserved. Let me be clear – that is a really crappy way to live and it’s not freedom. It is slippery, subtle bondage. It wraps you in the arms of a comforting hug, causing you to miss the knife in its hands. Thankfully I serve a God who specializes in knife wounds, second chances, grace, discipline and redemption.
In the church we make such a big deal over visible sins. They’re easy to see. Big sins are like a sandwich board, proclaiming what they are with fanfare. However, we fail to talk about this simple fact: it is the sins of the heart that are the issue. We don’t get to loud sandwich board sins without the inside rotting first.
In 1 Samuel 16, the Lord tells Samuel not to judge David’s brother Eliab by his outward appearance, because he was not who the Lord had chosen to replace Saul as king. He follows up his admonition with, “The Lord looks at the heart.” These verses are of great comfort and conviction. Not only does Jesus see the good in me, but He sees the bad and the ugly. He wants to transform me and it’s only when I let Him into my ugly and stop painting myself as perfect that I grow and am transformed into the likeness of His image.
Self-righteousness and power will never work in the kingdom of God. I’m continually reminded it is only through the cross, the symbol of surrender and weakness, that I can do anything. It’s only in identifying the sins of my heart, and as David said, allowing the Lord to cleanse me from presumptuous sins and make me clean that I can truly walk in freedom. It’s not a walk that is safe, but it is good.
I know this is a personal post from where I am, but I’d love to hear from you. How do you work to live authentically and keep your heart true? How does fear manifest in your life? How do you work to eliminate it?