You don’t have to look that closely to find my faults. Dig below surface level and you’ll find dirt. But I hope that you might also catch an occassional sweet fruit and find some valuable treasure — that just don’t make much sense growing in such a dark and dirty place as all of my weaknesses.
If we want to see each other’s value, we have to get past criticism, judgement, bitterness, hatred, jealousy, and all kinds of things that divide us.
When we give up our preconceived notions of what we think others “should look like” or “should act like” — we might just get past all of this loneliness and isolation — and get to know people and be introduced to their treasure.
I don’t care about your dirt. I’d rather you be honest with me and us both make mistakes, learn from them, and grow — than put on some fake attempt to seem “good enough” in the eyes of others.
You’ve made mistakes? Me too.
You’ve done stupid stuff? Me too.
You’ve said, “I’ll never do that again. And found yourself right back in the same place again?” Yep, I know the feeling.
I’m not perfect. You aren’t perfect.
I’m not even “good”. And neither are you.
If that offends you (for me to say that you aren’t good and you aren’t perfect), I’m sorry, but we just aren’t. A “good” person would be slow to anger, forgiving, and could easily laugh off a silly untrue statement — but the guilty “doth protest too much” about what is true but uncomfortable.
I say all of this to encourage you to not be so hard on yourself — shame is not the answer.
And don’t be so hard on others — judgement isn’t the answer either.
But what if you’re in a pattern of being hard on yourself and hard on others?
What if that pattern became a habit, and grew into a practice, and grew from there into a way of seeing everything around you, and grew from there into the way that you influenced everything and everyone around you?
I think we can easily imagine where that pattern would lead.
What about a pattern of forgiveness and encouragement?
What if that pattern grew in the exact same way — became a habit, and grew into a practice, and grew from there into a way of seeing everything around you, and grew from there into the way that you influenced everything and everyone around you?
How can a person change their pattern — change what feels like it might be an essential part of who they are?
Ask someone who you can see who is peculiar and has a uniquely different pattern than the norm. When I ask someone who is genuinely, authentically marching to that peculiarly different pattern — I don’t get an answer from them that is pride over what one might think is “good” or shame over what is “bad”. I always find someone who has found hope beyond themselves — and that neither the dirt nor the treasure in themselves is really of any great consequence to them. They aren’t striving to be perfect, nor are the lamenting over their imperfections. They aren’t religious zealots and hypocrites — nor are they self-absorbed, narcissist criminals.
Their eyes aren’t focused on themselves, and they aren’t focused on us either. The see something beyond what most see, like their eyes are opened in a different way to different things.
The Bible describes this as “setting your eyes upon the heavenly things”. Jesus Christ healed blind men when he walked this world in the flesh. But even greater than opening physical eyes to see, He opens blind spiritual eyes to see things clearly and truly — which makes it a bit peculiar.
Imagine if no one had the sense of smell and taste, but you miraculously were given this sense of smell and taste. Imagine things that do not look appealing to the eyes, or feel appealing to the hands, but that smell and taste so sweet. Others would avoid them and you would live them.
I understand that people can’t imagine how it could be an absolute joy to read and study the Bible, or pray, or worship — if someone had never tasted how sweet it smells and tastes, they would look at the way it looks to their eyes and feels to their hands, and they would think it is insane!
But what if your life and those around you are missing out on the sweet aroma and taste of a fruitful life filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self- control? Would you be willing to ask for the sense of taste and smell to know these things are good for you and all those around you?
I believe that we can come to God and ask Him for this “peculiar, spiritual sense of taste and smell” for these “fruit of the spirit”, these “things of God” and that our pattern will shift — because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ who died and the cross and is raised to life.
If you are tired of struggling against the old patterns, I will pray with you. Just let me know.
Pray for me too?