Tuesday, October 25, 2011

{ Ugly-Beautiful }

Where to begin?

Deep breath. In. Out.

The sheer glory of autumn's splendor, the glad riot of changing leaves, is breathtaking. The majesty of the trees in their crimson, gold, and fire-orange garb never gets old, year after year.

On still nights, I can hear the nearby high school's marching band. I'd forgotten how much I love marching bands. I'd forgotten the time, years ago, that two friends and I went to a marching band contest/performance at Qwest Field, and how much I enjoyed it.

Crisp, clear autumn days, edged with fog, tinged with woodsmoke, call me to welcome the coming winter.

I am seriously tempted to buy a salted caramel latte every.single.day. Usually multiple times.

I give in to the above impulse more often than I should.

If you make P-Dub's mouthwatering chicken tortilla soup, please do not substitute flour tortillas for the corn tortillas the recipe requires. I did, because I was out of corn tortillas. In soup, pieces of flour tortilla transform into huge, slimy, nasty, disgusting squares of snot that taste like wet dough. Sooooo nasty. Do not do it.

Jesus is teaching me hard things. Mike and I are doing a sort of Bible study called Redemption Group. I am at a loss to put into words the work God is doing in my heart. Perhaps it's hard to describe because I'm still in the thick of it. He's opening my blind eyes to the truth--about Him and about me. I believe a lot of lies, about Him and about me. Here's a brief quote from my answer to one of this week's reflection questions: What false belief am I protecting?

I am not truly a sinner. I am not completely, 100% sinner to my core. I only sometimes (partially) need Jesus' forgiveness. I don't believe that my sins are truly SINFUL: I think they're excusable, understandable, ok, cute, funny; quirks, not evil. I don't understand myself to be evil.
I believe that I am good and I am worthy of glory and that my image is glorious. I not only think I'm on equal ground with God; I think I deserve to be on equal turf with Him. I believe God is in error when He says all (including me) have sinned and that my salvation is through Jesus alone. What?! Not through me?! I contribute! I contribute to my salvation! If God disagrees, it's because He refuses to look at my "evidence." Not only do I passively contribute (when I don't actively sin), I also actively contribute (when I do good things). Yes, I definitely help Jesus save me.
Oh God, how bitter this is! How full of bile and gall! Sick and twisted-ugly. I have built this shell for years: thick, hard, impervious (often) to conviction. So tight: suffocating, constricting, painful, death-causing. I don't want to face the truth that I am broken, bloody, bleeding, guts spilled, dying, filthy, wretched, covered in vomit and feces and urine, wallowing in the unspeakable horror of my self, NEEDING You to rescue me...so I spin myself a cocoon of lies, inoculate myself against the Holy Spirit with half-truths, spin tighter and harder and closer so I don't see, hear, feall the truth about me. And if I can blind myself to the truth about me--needy! broken! wretched! filthy! evil! NEEDY!!!--I can also blind myself to the truth about Your scandalous grace.

Disgusting? Yes. I'm sorry if that description is uncomfortable: Being confronted with my sin--that I am a sinner who daily offends a Holy God--is uncomfortable, to say the least. It's a new truth for me. Praise God for His pursuit of me, for the layers of sin and idol-worship and me-worship He's revealing and peeling off! It's like breathing deep when you didn't realize you were breathing shallow: In. Out. Relief.

I hope you are all enjoying autumn's splendor and that you can rest in Jesus' pursuit of you, leaning hard into His grace.


  1. I know that I have gone through seasons of my life where I feel like God has really given me a glimpse into just how ugly my sin is...it's a grieving process, out of which we experience hope, for out of that ugliness we rise forgiven and washed clean and white and made beautiful by the life and blood of Jesus. Thank you again for bearing your heart.
    Love you so, my beautiful friend.xo

  2. Yes & amen, and praise God for His pursuit of us! Chelle's words too are such a beautiful picture of the work He does in our hearts when we allow Him in, and allow Him to reveal things in us we didn't even know were there. Can totally identify with that. Love the description of God 'peeling off' layers - He is so in the business of turning sin, heartache, grief & trials into beauty that glorifies Him. :)

    ps - like your pretty leaves!

  3. Wow. This is definitely a post for me to come back to and read again. And then again. Slowly - so I can feel the pain and listen to God on these tough issues. So glad you opened your heart here.