I've been thinking a LOT lately about accepting grace and allowing God to actually do what we ask of Him, and then? Then being free to acknowledge that He has. I'm not sure if this will make sense or not but this past year I've felt a change and saw some little tendencies where I have a hard time letting go of my ideas of who I am and what my struggles are. I see the same reflected in other women during conversations as well. I don't know whether it's just that there is a comfort in the familiarity (even the negative stuff) or if there is something that scares us about being better. Maybe it feels like pride to admit when we no longer struggle with something. Maybe it's that we have made this sin or wound or fault or weakness so much a part of our identity that we don't know how to let it go. I don't know, perhaps there is something different behind it. But I've been coming around in the last year to the idea that God is not honored by that. (And someone else, of course, would love for us to stay clinging to our dark and less than ideal parts.) Clutching the old - whether it is sin, sickness, wounds, ugly or destructive attitudes, or even just ideas about ourselves - that God has touched and brought healing and hope to (even if not completely) is...well, it's kinda rude.
I think of the Gospels and the people that were healed and the ways that God was glorified in that. I think of how the woman at the well, the leper in the desert, quirky little Zaccheus, and so many more gave God a chance to work and then admitted that He did. In fact, they couldn't keep it inside and their lives were radically changed. They weren't bound by self-consciousness, unhealthy introspection, overanalyzing and questioning (did He really heal me? Maybe I'm just making it up...). They had to share it and they weren't afraid of being unapproachable anymore or that people might have the wrong impression and judge them. They simply let God work and let themselves be better, be changed. They humbly accepted the truth that they were healed...not because of themselves but because of Him.
It makes me wonder how often God has worked (or has been longing to work) in my life and how my own hangups have put a kink in that. My own failure to admit that He's done what He's said He will, He is who He says He is, end up keeping me bound by whatever the struggle was, if only in my own mind. It's like He's healed my blindness but scared by the light or that people might critique the color of my eyes, my hands instinctively cover them back up. Lord, I still can't see! And He's there just shaking His divine head wondering if I'll let myself.
I shouldn't be surprised or hesitant to admit that after years of asking to grow in patience or love, He has helped me do that. I shouldn't be so glued to my faults that I can't admit when they're actually better than they used to be. I don't know if that is even making sense but lately I'm finding that there's an incredible power we have when we just admit that we're okay. When we can open our eyes to the reality and work of the Spirit in and around us (and that in itself requires a grace), we can see what He's done already. Maybe some of it is just my own awakening to what seems SO embarrassingly cliche...that our minds are a powerful force. When we stop telling ourselves we're blind, we begin to see. When we can recognize that we shouldn't be the same people we were years, months, or days ago and allow and welcome that to happen. I'm not talking about a heretical 'name it and claim it' type of gospel. I'm talking about allowing ourselves to see the work that He has done and live in and accept that reality. I'm talking about seeing where He has healed us or allowed us to make progress and be grateful and happy about it, letting those chains drop and not letting the evil one, ourselves, or anyone else tell us they're still there. Scripture talks about a dog returning to its vomit and a pig returning to the mud (2 Peter 2:22...I'd like to see a print or embroidered pillow made of that one ;). That lovely imagery should make us gag a bit at the thought of doing the same ourselves. It doesn't necessarily mean we'll never have to revisit past wounds or necessarily be shocked to find ourselves returning to some sins but it means rejoicing in the ways that we have been freed and changed and healed and become more of what He made us to be. It means walking in hope and just letting ourselves be better. It means not wallowing in the ways that we struggle and availing ourselves of the help that He gives us.
It's a silly way to live life when we pigeonhole ourselves into the person we decided we were years or even days ago. I've been working on applying this to others as well because I know how much it hurts when I feel like people have done it to me based on a single season or encounter or opinion. I will never understand and know the totality of another person in this life and every single person deserves the room and freedom to grow and change and become better. Just like God is constantly working in my life, if only I have the eyes to see and the docility to allow it to happen, He is doing the same for others. He is calling each one of us to holiness and we shouldn't be surprised when with our assent He makes good on His word.
We're made to change. We were made to get better. It's what this whole life work is for - growing in holiness, growing in virtue. It's a healthy and good thing to acknowledge and be humbly honest in how we see that happening. It glorifies Him when we let Him mold this clay into something new and better and we aren't afraid to see and praise and thank Him for what He has done. It doesn't mean that there still isn't a lot of sculpting to be done but there'll be time and grace enough for the rest of it. To Him be the glory.
(P.S. Seriously, I don't really know if any of this makes sense but it's what I've got in this brain of mine lately and it helps to just process it all out loud here. It's been a while since I've done any of my rambly, think-out-loud sort of writing!)