I hate my teeth.
They’ve always been a source of shame, embarrassment and have caused me to hide in some way or another nearly all of my life. Of course, there’s a lot more to my hiding than my teeth -namely that I had never quite felt good enough. And at the heart of that are some daddy issues mingled with church hurt that occurred during my formative years, but that’s another story for another time. Suffice it to say, I grew up with the misconception that you had to be perfect; attractive, flawless, never making a mistake -to be embraced, accepted and safe.
For a long time, I felt deeply unsafe.
I sought safety in a number of things that could not offer it; popularity, money and sex, only to find that it left me more insecure than before. Fast forward to my meeting Jesus in the BSU office of Dr. Gregory Jones and the overwhelming love I encountered at my absolute lowest point changed my life forever. Since that time, as I’ve walked with Jesus, He has been continually healing me, through His Word, from the lies that long tortured my soul and that have caused so much pain in and through my life. A major deliverance from feelings of inadequacies was my being given Christ-esteem: the notion that as a born again believer, my life including my identity is now in Christ. I am defined by what Christ has done and is doing in me rather than a temporary condition (like failure or achievement) while I’m in process of being conformed to His image (Colossians 3). This was a watershed moment in my life and one that has been deeply helpful. #christesteem
Another was given to me a few weeks ago: home.
As I wrestled with my appearance in the mirror, feeling unattractive (and therefore unsafe), I was reminded of times that I was safe – times that I was at home. I remembered that I have been blessed to have many homes; my mother, my grandfather’s house, Dr. Gregory Jones and his home, Greater Ebenezer M.B. Church, and the home of Willie and Mary Harris. It was this remembrance that actually inspired my expression of gratefulness for Mary Jean Harris.
Melissa and I have been blessed to travel a little and see some marvelous things. The Spirit brought to mind the mansions, grand buildings and lush hotels -some where we’ve even had opportunity to stay. Then He brought to mind the home of Willie and Mary Harris. And, it became plain to me. Of all the wonderful places I’ve seen and been, on any given day I would much rather be at the home of Willie and Mary Harris. Even though the outward appearance of the building could be considered shanty in comparison, when you were there, you were at home.
When I am at home somewhere, it’s the sense of being safe: loved, wanted and enjoyed that matters. Its outward appearance is of little concern. So, rather than focus on my on physical imperfections –the (natural) outward man that is perishing, it is better to focus on the (spiritual) inward man that is being perfected day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). The truth is, I am safe in Christ (Luke 18:28-30, John 14:3, Romans 8:35-39) and the best way to experience that safety is to be that for others. Also, in the context of those we’ve lost, being to others what they’ve been to us, is a way of always having them.
The Holy Spirit’s message to me: be a home for others.
In one place it is written, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) And with this latest revelation, I have a new and different appreciation for Mark 8:34-46 “whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” It often amazes me how the things that make for our peace are so often counterintuitive.
In those moments where my attention is being drawn to my shortcomings in the flesh and I am again made to feel unsafe, rather than focus on me and what I can do to make myself feel better, I will instead remember the wonderful homes that so many have been for me, where people are safe: loved, wanted and enjoyed, and I will focus on being that for others.
In so doing, it puts me squarely in the fortress of God’s love and allows Him to use me to share a beautiful, glorious, everlasting home with others. #spirithome