When I was about eleven, I had an idea so brilliant, it had to be executed immediately. I knew what needed to be done and I went for it.
I made a beeline to the kitchen, opened the pantry, secured two slices of bread, and then, with bread in hand, I marched into the living room and smooshed the crumbly bread slices right into my loving grandmother’s regal face. I made sure to keep the bread on her face and rub it around a little, because of course I did. Then, I walked away.
That was the one and only time I ever saw my grandma upset. She stood up, wiped the crumbs out of her eyes and said something like, “Scarlet…you don’t do that! You don’t put bread in a person’s face!”
Even then, I remember thinking, Of course, this is a very bizarre thing to do to someone, but I just really want to do it.
As I’ve aged, my urges have become a little less odd, but really, not much has changed. I still have a tendency to do things I know don’t make a whole lot of sense. I look back at the things I struggled with ten years ago, so thankful that I’m past them. But what about now? What bad decision, selfish pattern, or sinful way of thinking am I living with today? I think I’m in a stage of life where getting distracted from such things is so easy and even likely.
Case in point, it took me about ten minutes to type this sentence because I am keeping my 11-month-old from eating the acrylic paint that my 5-year-old is using to paint a rock.
Even if I didn’t have kids, though, I know that all it takes is Netflix or a good book or a new goal to take my eyes off the Gospel and where I am falling short. When I’m walking closely with Jesus, I begin to see my bread-smooshing-type tendencies more clearly. And I don’t like it. When I’m not, I smoosh away.
This past Sunday, my pastor was talking about how painful it is when a Christian is confronted with their sin. Like when Isaiah saw God in Isaiah 6, and cried out in anguish, “…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…”
It’s true. And it just keeps happening. Every season, I uncover new blind spots – things about the way I think and the way I live that should change. And rather than doing something about these tendencies, I simply shift my focus to something more happy. Recognizing my off-the-charts degree of weakness and depravity is uncomfortable. I don’t like it.
I want to have my life together. I want to like myself. And I don’t like myself very much when I’m looking at a holy, perfect God.
When I’m listening to the Holy Spirit though, I hear that I shouldn’t be looking at myself anyway. I should be looking at Jesus. Jesus’ awesomeness points out my grossness. Jesus’ awesomeness covers my grossness. Jesus’ awesomeness makes me desire grossness less and less.
James McDonald once said something like, “It’s not about having high self esteem or low self esteem. It’s about having no self esteem.”
Only then, only when I’m not thinking ME ME ME ME, am I able to see my struggles and move beyond them.
I need to look Jesus in the face more than I look at myself in the mirror. I know that I do far less bread-smooshing when I do.
I’ll sign off with this. Grandma Mattie Lou doesn’t have the internet, so please, kind souls, let’s just not bring this up when you see her at the Y. Okay? Seriously.