On Grace: the Identity Crisis

If you’ve read along, by now you’ve gathered this little journey is of a sweet, personal nature to me. As I mentioned before, there is an open door here. Walk through it, if you like. Check out “Fresh Refreshing” for an introduction to the beginning of this journey, if you haven’t, and feel free to read on through.

Grace?

As I thought more deeply on grace, I came to a simplistic conclusion. Perhaps a main (and possibly common) problem we face in grasping the width, depth, and height of it lies in our own identity crisis. I can move through my ordered little world for years without thinking too deeply about who I really am at the core of my being. To some degree, our society ponders identity in small, insignificant doses: a profile for a blog or Facebook(R) page, the brief verbal introduction at a company picnic or in the church lobby, maybe an unexpected spotlight moment on an unusual day. Today our lives are becoming more “out there” in social networking sites, but more private at the same time. Odd. Unless we are part of unique type of deep, interpersonal community by choice, we are more and more private, even with all the technological accessibility we have.

I’m of the mind that one of our greatest human desires is to know and be known. Social networking sites sure scratch that itch! In just minutes, the transparency of others is mine…all mine. The hundreds of statuses available to me give a window into the world of my friends–emotions and events, excitement and boredom, whatever they are going through–immediately! It’s a false sense of knowledge and close friendship, I think. As soon as I realize I have the peek to their world that they allow me to have, the lightbulb goes on. Don’t I do the same thing? But, I’m not here to dismantle the new-fangled technological advances in this world. Truthfully, it has benefit to it when used wisely, so it’s not a “baby with the bath water” issue for me either.

Let’s take the social networking site scenario and think about what might happen if it showed everything. What if the window into our world went beyond the façade and included a window into the depths of the soul? Maybe the new name would be Activitiesbook, Mindbook, or Heartbook. Everything you’d ever done would be laid bare for all to see. I wonder if we’d have a market for something like that. Revealing everything is a whole different ballgame than the careful selection we might make to reveal our sweetest, funniest, most-appropriate self. What if the word choices didn’t allow for spin doctoring of some of our thoughts, actions, and choices? What if…we had to be completely honest? No masks. No hiding.

See, this is what our Abba Father knows about us. “Nothing in all creation is hidden in God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account” (Hebrews 4:13, NIV). We might cognitively know that God knows everything–the good, the bad, and the ugly. We might be willing to admit nothing we’ve ever done is unknown to Him. I, personally, perceive my own disconnect that tends toward an out of sight and out of mind perspective. Or, I might swing to something else that’s just as unhealthy: if God (or anyone) really knew what I was really like….

Do not be fooled. At the cross, Jesus knew who He was dying for, and He still did it. Wholeheartedly. Sacrificially. Lovingly. Without regret. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NIV).

There is no pretending necessary. We come to Him as we are. He makes everything right.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2: 13-14, NIV)

He knew everything. Your good that’s not all that good, your bad that might be pretty bad to you or others, and your ugly that you never speak about–He was willing to take it all, to take all of each one of us! I have to sit with this for a minute. Do you?

I think a missing piece of knowing grace may be gripping the reality of who I am. I’m not all that impressive, really. My deepest thoughts can be found in a puddle I like to think has some depth, but that’s not much to bring to the table with the One who created, say, a universe. On a good day, I extend love to those good friends who love me unconditionally. On a really good day, I may manage love for someone who can’t stand me. On a bad day, I’m not all that real. On an ugly day, I hide.

And then there’s grace. He meets all of me (good, bad, and ugly) with grace. Really? Why?

In John 3:16 in God’s love for the world, my Father’s eyes come in for a close-up on li’l old me. Say it with me. My Father’s eyes come in for a close-up on li’l old me! He does that for each of us.

When I feel distant from my loving God, I think I need to take a visit to the cross. Eyes wide open to who I am and who He is, I bet I get a clearer picture of grace.

P.S. I didn’t mention anything specific from The Search for Significance. Trust me; this fits.

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2 Responses to “On Grace: the Identity Crisis”

  1. P* Says:

    Awesome, J*!
    I think you hit the nail on the head at the very end…
    “Eyes wide open to who I am and who HE is”…
    If we focus *too* much on ourselves (beyond the realization of our need for His grace), we’ll quickly become discouraged. However, the opposite is true when our mind is centered on HIM. Peace…like a river…:o)

    Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace,
    Whose mind is stayed on You,
    Because he trusts in You.

  2. Jennifer Says:

    Thanks, P*. 🙂

    What you say is so true. I imagined the next post focusing on the character and person of God that completely outweighs anything we are (good, bad, or ugly). I think that’s where this is going. In any case, verses remind me to take a look at me, knowing that part of the equation clearly, and then focus my mind on and trust Him. The one who is forgiven much loves much. I’m taking a look at what has been forgiven, in a sense.

    Whether these posts are entirely clear or not (I think it would take a book), I know I’m taking isolated puzzle pieces and looking at them one at a time. I’m trying to put them in some semblance of order, when possible.

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