Hey y’all. It’s been quite some time since I last posted. About two months now. So much has happened, and I’m not sure why I never turned to writing a post to help me reflect. But I’m back, ready to declare to God what exactly has been going on in my heart lately.
This past quarter at school, a little voice tugged on my heart, ‘You need to sacrifice something.’ Sacrifice. When I think of sacrifice, I tend to focus more on what I’m losing, rather than what I’m gaining. I’ve grown too attached to comfort, but above all, calling the own shots in my life, discounting God’s rightful place in my heart. I don’t think God’s looking for me to sacrifice anymore; I think He just wants my heart.
And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!’ And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.’ [Isaiah 6:3-5]
God is holy, holy, holy. Holiness is not just purity, but a cut above, set apart, for another purpose. Holiness, in essence, is other-worldly; is Godly. Holiness is central to who God is, above His love, grace, kindness, justice. Perhaps we can love without knowing who God is. Perhaps we can have mercy on others without acknowledging God. But we cannot be holy or know what and who holiness is apart from God. To deny God of His holiness in our minds is to not know who He truly is. And when we don’t truly know who He is, we don’t know we are, or why we need a relationship with Him.
An analogy one of my old church counselors taught us concerning the holiness of God was a comparison of toilet bowl water and pure drinking water. Imagine one cup of each of these waters. If even one drop of the toilet water is added to the pure drinking water, it contaminates the drinking water; it mixes in with the rest of the water, and is no longer pure. No amount of pure drinking water added to the cup of toilet water will change what it is – it is forever tainted. The only way to cleanse the cup of toilet water is to dump it out, wash it, and fill it with pure drinking water.
I’m still stuck on the stage of dumping out the cup of toilet water that is my heart. All the sin still dwells within, snuffing out all the light God keeps trying to pour into my life through His truth. His light is shining, but I just move out of it, every time I’m confronted with the truth. I remember the times when people would imitate Colonel Jessup from A Few Good Men, randomly exclaiming: ‘You can’t handle the truth.’ It’s true. I can’t. Because once truth is out there, in your knowledge, you cannot deny it. You cannot keep living in your sin anymore because ‘I didn’t know any better’ is no longer a valid excuse. On the same level of silliness would be to be corrected by your teacher that 2+2 does not equal 5, but rather, 4, but continue to answer 5 on every subsequent test. Truth is truth, no matter who tells it to you, no matter how you feel about it, no matter what it might cost you.
Growing up, I somehow managed to straddle the line between a super inflated ego and low self-esteem. Honestly, it would just depend on the day and context. When it came to my body, I had extremely low self-esteem, which may have manifested as eating disorders and depression. On better days, looking around at my friends and classmates, I’d feel pretty okay about myself, reassuring myself that I was a unique person amongst everyone at our high school, doing things that I actually wanted to do, like dance and play lacrosse, rather than for the sake of getting into a good college. Comparison was the name of the game, and I felt as though I was winning, since I had pretty good grades, internships, extracurriculars; basically all I had was a nice-looking resume, but in return, my heart was as lacking depth as the piece of paper that is a resume.
So what is truth, in my life? The truth is: I’m not awesome. We only see what we want to see in ourselves, noting every time we do something that confirms this notion that, ‘I am great. You should be grateful/think I’m amazing/apologize to me.’ I tended to think that I was awesome, especially when people don’t meet my expectations when I ask them to do something, leaving me to wonder why I didn’t just do it myself because I could’ve done it better. Awesomeness is not subjective, based on how I perceive myself compared to other people. All I wanted was to feel that I actually belonged at all my competitive schools, that it wasn’t a mistake that I was admitted to the gifted programs at these schools. I needed to know that I was good enough, even if it wasn’t true. Lies were enough to keep me warm at night then, and enough to keep me up at night now.
The truth is: I struggle with authority. Perhaps to others, as a kid, I was a goody-two-shoes, never got into trouble at school or at home. I just didn’t want to bother my parents. Ultimately, I ended up harboring a lot of resentment towards my parents for being so hands-off on my academic/activities life after 5th grade, forcing me to grow up and figure things out by myself. I felt like the authority in my own life when it came to these areas, which is why it made no sense to me in high school, and even in college now, when my parents tried to enforce curfews on me. My twisted, ungrateful heart refused to acknowledge the proper claim they have on me as their daughter. Somehow, I became more rebellious after becoming a Christian a couple years ago, staying out when I knew my parents disapproved and talking back to him. Perhaps I’m also just more able to see my sins now, since I did the very same in high school, before becoming a Christian; I think I just blocked these memories out, knowing how much pain they caused both my parents and myself.
Similarly, I continue to refuse God’s authority in my life as Lord. He asks me to do something, and I try to push the boundaries, find loopholes out of it. At this very moment, I think He might be asking me to give up my dream of becoming a lawyer. Yet I keep holding onto it, because I don’t know what my life will amount to if I don’t. What will all my hard work from the time I could talk and do problem sets until now mean, if I don’t go to law school? I cling to the very thing that makes me feel so empty, to the very thing that reminds me that what I’ve been working for my entire life, and the work itself, was completely devoid of God. All so I can prove to myself again that I belong. I belong at law school. I am good enough to work for a prestigious law firm (and turn it down). What is this actually saying? I am good enough without God.
And that is the essence of sin. Sin is not only missing the mark of God’s holy standard, but continuing to believe that we don’t even need it. That we don’t need Him to tell us what’s good and what’s bad – this comes full circle to the first sin, when Eve saw the tree of knowledge of good and evil lustfully, and wanted more than she was meant to.
Lord, bring me to my knees by the truth of who I am. Let there be no shred of me that believes that I am great, that I am anything apart from You. Lord, I give You permission, search my heart for You, and if You don’t find Yourself, throw everything else out. Please. I cannot do it on my own.
I can’t continue on my own, so take my hands now. I give You everything, God, not just a little bit. Take it from me, I am nothing but a hypocrite. I hate sin but I built a house and asked to live in it. Afraid to open up the door to You, let You into it….
Oh, these hands are tired. Oh, this heart is tired. Oh, this soul is tired. But I’ll keep on. [‘I’ll Keep On’ – NF]