Have you ever wondered why I feel it necessary to blog about how I honestly feel about things? It may seem strange that I am willing to put myself out in there in all my humiliating glory. It actually all began several years ago when I was asked to do a devotional at a women's bible study. The incident that precipitated this devotional was the actual valley before climbing this mountain of victory. The timing of being asked to do this devotional was almost eerie.
I want to share this with you because this was when God called me out. Literally. He basically stripped me of the image I had been portraying and said,
"Get honest. Stop acting like you have it together when you don't."
Neither does anyone else. Not one person. Oh, but God has it all together. And I quickly realized that being transparent completely sets you free. Raw honesty is refreshing in a day and age where the church puts on a happy face rather then tearing their clothes in grief, donning sack cloth and praying with complete surrender. We hear, "How are you?" and respond with "So blessed!" What is not being said..."I am doing the polite, nicey thing asking how you are but I really don't care to know" and the response withheld is "I am dying inside and I am petrified that anyone should find out."
So now I try to be honest. Even when it's hard. I find out from others that I often say what others are afraid to say. Well, good. Because even in my honesty, I blow a huge sigh f relief knowing others fall way short of the mark right along with me.
So here is the devotional I wrote and shared in front of a large women's bible study about 5 years ago. This literally was penned from the most High God because I was told me later many came away blessed. As was I...
The devotional starts out with a question...
Do you want to be a window or do you want to be stained glass?
A window can be viewed through on both sides. You can see in and you can see out. When it is cleaned, it sparkles. It opens us up instead of closing us in and it is revealing and transparent.
Stained glass is beautiful and intricate. It is full of color and often will tell a story. It is sometimes whimsical, sometimes reverent, often delicate and easy to shatter. But you can’t see through it. You can only look at it. There is an image on either side but it’s not transparent.
For a long time, I have been a stained glass window. I have wanted people to see my life for what I want it to be and not what it is. I have an amazing husband and family. Fantastic friends. My home is cozy and spacious. My church has so many people who love Jesus Christ and want to wholeheartedly serve Him. My life looks great. It is great. I should be content. But what do I live for? Where does the joy in my life really come from? I often wonder..
Can I get it through decorating my house?
Maybe cooking and slaving over an extravagant meal.
I know! I‘ll throw a dinner party that no one can compete with.
Maybe I'll buy that designer bag with the name brand all blinged and big so people will know my pricey purchase.
Maybe I could even get involved with 1 or 2…no…3 or 4 ministries at church and show people how spiritual and holy I am.
God, that’s what you want. I know it is. That’s what I will do. And for a while, it worked. And although those things are not inherently wrong, my heart attitude was. I even thought I could convince God.
The bible says if you humble yourselves before the Lord, He will lift you up. It always amazes me how humility draws us closer to God. It amplifies our inadequacies and deficient righteousness. It reveals our need for God instead of a habitual attendance to Him. Oh, how I need God.
Here is a most recent story that has shattered my stained glass window...
This story is about my husband and he has given me permission to relay this to all of you in hopes that you may be blessed and so that we can show our absolute NEED to be real before the Lord.
Last week, my husband came home to confess to me that he had put us into 11,000 of debt.
Now, that may not be a lot to some but we are both young and that is everything we had. He used up our savings without my knowledge trying to cover up our debt. His job was not allowing ends to meet which was also why he used up our savings. He was ashamed but full of pride because he never told me, asked for help, or most importantly sought God for answers & direction. When he came home to tell me, I was hurt and felt betrayed. My mind was screaming and I wanted to tell him what I really thought about him. But I kept praying this prayer...
"God, be my words, be my words."
Finally He gave me words to say but my next prayer was...
"Get the words off my tongue."
When I finally felt I could say it, I told him,
"I love you and I am with you every step of the way."
He broke down and cried like I have never seen anyone before. He seemed so shocked by that kind of grace and quite frankly, so was I.
God, was that me?
NO, BELOVED. IT WAS ME.
As the week went on, I kept discovering different areas of our finances that had been depleted. It was devastating. All the money given to us for our wedding. Savings we have had since we have been married. Gone. One day, I found myself in the shower crying out to God
“70 x 7! 70 x 7! You require me to forgive 70 x 7! HELP ME!!!!!”
Oh, the pain. At one point I cried out to God over and over,
"I did not do anything wrong. I did not do anything wrong. Why did this happen? Why am I suffering? I DID NOT DO ANYTHING WRONG!"
God’s reply to me?
"Neither did your SAVIOR. Yet He covered your sins and sacrificed for you."
God was teaching me sacrifice and humility. My image was shattered. My perfect persona marred. I was left with the reality that God calls me to a higher purpose then my own. I was to stand the gap for my husband and let him know that he was not alone. That WE are not alone. God was and is refining us to produce that harvest of righteousness. He was simultaneously working on us both for entirely 2 different reasons but for one purpose.
His Glory. Hallelujah.
My Lord and King was not only shattering my stained glass but he was replacing it with double paned, storm windows. He wants me to be transparent. He wants me to be strong. That is why I am standing before you today. To be transparent and show you the person that God wants you to see. Who I want you to see. Because I do not want to please men. I want to please God.
It is a journey to be real and transparent. I looked up the word in the dictionary and I was amazed by what I read...
The definition states: Having the property of transmitting rays of light through its substance so that bodies situated beyond or behind can be distinctly seen, so sheer as to permit light to pass through; open, frank, candid.
In 2 Corinthians 4:6, it says, “Let light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” So beautiful.
1 John 1:5-7 says: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
He wants us to shed our own manufactured image and reveal the reality of who we are in Christ Jesus. Sometimes we are harder on ourselves than anyone else. But God forgives. Everything. He uses our blunders and mistakes to heal us up, lift us up, lift others up, and give up to Him the Glory He deserves.
What do we fear? Opinions of others? Gossip? Judgment? Being less than perfect? Are we full of pride? Insecurities? Bitterness? What are our hang ups?
And this is what I have realized...when I get right down to it...who flippin' cares? I have learned to just be who I am, a sinner who claims the blood of Christ, because by his wounds I have been healed. My life is a journey and not one where I will reach perfection. Just one where I will come face to face with my Savior.
When we come to God, it is a courageous surrender. We can do all things through Christ who strengthen us. We say, WE NEED YOU, LORD. He says. COME JUST AS YOU ARE.
So I will end with the same question.
Do you want to be a transparent window or just beautiful stained glass?
This was a journey that blessed my husband and I immensely! It was not without some major bumps and it took us a good year to have our marriage be on sure ground again. And don't get me wrong. To this day we still suffer the consequences. We don't own a house. We purchase used cars. No cell phone. No cable. No pedicures. No designer bags. No top of the line, up to the minute of ANYTHING. Although I am coveting an iphone. That little gadget would come in handy in a waiting room. But our marriage is stronger than ever. And we focus on what matters. Not our wants.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of why I write at my own expense. Obviously, life is extraordinarily funny. But I also think we edify the lives of others when we just stop all the drama and begin getting down to the honest truth of who we are.
Incidentally, I asked my husband for permission to publish this post and then we both burst out laughing at the irony of me withholding this information on a post about being transparent. See? I so need to keep it raw and real.