It’s hard to write because it is hard to see yourself clearly. It’s hard to look at the ugliness square in the face, let alone acknowledge it and say it all out loud. I’ve always thought I’ve known what those big things are that I struggle with. The areas of my life that require constant surrender over and over and over again. But this one has been surprising. It has been creeping up slowly for months. This unconscious sin. My unconscious pride.
I’ve always prized myself in being the good girl. Even as a child, I was happy to follow the rules. I think I was more afraid of getting in trouble and disappointing someone that it never even made disobeying appealing. I did what I was told. I paid attention in school. I watched as others toed the line but never considered it for myself. In high school I became a Christian, and in my inexperience of what that even meant at the time, just said no to everything that may even remotely appear to be wrong in anyway. I’m a rule follower. I always have been and I always will be. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that in itself, unless it is taken to a wrong place. Unless it becomes legalistic. Or unless it is taken to a place that I didn’t even know existed in me–a place of pride.
I’m prideful of being the good girl.
I first really started to notice it while I was reading the book of Hosea–Hosea and Isaiah tie for first place when it comes to my favorite books in the Bible. I have always loved this story of God’s unrelenting, incomprehensible, redeeming love. And yet there is a part of me that has never fully understood it. That has looked at the person of Gomer and has always wondered why? Why would she leave Hosea? Why would she run away from the person who has rescued her from a life of depravity? That has redeemed her from slavery? And yet she leaves. She leaves and goes after all the things that she thinks will fill her and they don’t.
And I saw it. For the first time I truly saw it. That I am Gomer. That’s the point.
I go after other things I think will satisfy. I go my own way. Gomer’s story is my story. Israel’s story is my story. And yet as I have been immersed in the words of Hosea, I’ve realized that I don’t like to see myself in that way.
It says it in the Word of God. All of us sin. All of us have been led astray (Isaiah 53:6). There is no one who does good–not even one (Romans 3:10). All sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). ALL. All of us. No one is exempt from a sinful nature. And that means me.
Somewhere over the years I have adopted the belief that I am essentially good, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sin is sin in any form. Pride that makes me want to believe that I am good, but also pride that wants to others to see that same thing–the good girl that I have always strived to be. And I am so entirely grieved by this but also so relieved at the same time. Because now I can confess and repent and become more like my God in the process.
I am just like Gomer, and I have come to love Gomer. I wonder if when Hosea married her, it was such an assault on her being–such a different way of life that she didn’t know how to accept this new identity that was hers. If she didn’t know she was free. Cause I sure know what that feels like. I choose other things instead of my God. And He pursues me just as Hosea pursued Gomer, buying her back from slavery. Hosea–this beautiful picture of my God. I wonder what he felt when God told him to bring Gomer back. Despite infidelity and blatant sin. Despite utter betrayal. One of those moments, I imagine, that came with a choice of living for God more than self. The very obedience that gave Hosea the strength to bring her back. I certainly couldn’t have done it. No way! But my God does that over and over and over again–for me!
Too many times I have seen myself want to take credit. Wanting to praise myself for the hard work it has taken to accomplish my goals. The ugliness of wanting to be the one that is in the light. To be the one who receives the praise.
It’s heartbreaking to see it. To see this very real beast that is sin so present in my life. And yet I am grateful for it as well. Thankful and humbled to see God working so deeply. That the Holy Spirit is opening my eyes to actually see this area where I stumble. His loving discipline that comes out of His abundant love that wants to chop away at all the branches that bear bad fruit and keep me from Him. This unconscious sin that is now turning into a beautiful mercy as my God is changing my heart.
It is scary to say it. To proclaim my ugliness and areas of struggle for the world to see. But I also know that there is so much freedom in vulnerability. In laying myself bare. In allowing others to walk alongside me in the areas that are hard. Of just being real and true and honest. Because the second I stop doing that this all becomes pointless. It all becomes a lie. And yet the beauty lies in the struggle of it all–these ugly places that God turns into wonder and faithfulness and redemption. The surrender that invites mercy and peace and freedom. It’s worth it. The dead and drying branches that get torn away so that a new vine full of abundant fruit can grow.
God’s discipline is tough, but it is wonderful. He is not standing there wagging His finger at me and condemning me. He is lovingly guiding me into being the best version of myself–the one that reflects Him. He is clearing away all the ugliness so that He can plant His beauty there instead. And that makes me excited. That makes it worth it for what can grow out of it. That makes me want to always own up to the hard areas of struggle and sin because He isn’t done with me yet. He is ever making me into something new and using my story to tell of His glory.
So here I am, living wide open. Because the story is about Him. It’s not about me.
And thank God it is not about me.