Freedom from Pretending
October 1, 2014
By Laura DiFatta
Recently, a local church in Birmingham held a women’s conference that I was excited about attending. It was scheduled for a Friday evening and Saturday morning. I considered it a much-needed girls’ weekend!
The night for the conference came. I took off my summer “uniform” of workout shorts and t-shirt and got dressed up. I went out to dinner with a friend and then went to the conference. It was a wonderful scene filled with smiling women! About ten minutes after I arrived, I made it to the check-in desk with my ticket for the event. While standing there, a young woman tapped me on the shoulder. When I turned to her, she quickly leaned in close and whispered in my ear, “Your blouse is inside out.” I looked at her in surprise and then burst out laughing. Par for the course. I hardly ever get ready for anything uninterrupted and sometimes I leave the house wondering what I look like and if I have all my clothes on. This time was no different. Hey! At least I did have all my clothes on, albeit, not quite right. I was able to laugh about that with several people standing around and then made my way to the restroom to get my shirt turned right side out. I chuckled about that several times over the course of the evening. My best attempts at being “together”… foiled again! Ironically, the event I was attending was titled, “Unhitching From The Crazy Train.” I was at the right place.
If that same thing had happened to me in the past, I would’ve run to the restroom, completely mortified with embarrassment. I would’ve probably cried. Not even kidding. I used to desperately want to present the facade of “I’ve got it together” to the world. I think that I approached God that way for many years. I worked hard to present myself “dressed up” in my good deeds, in my check-the-box moral rule-keeping, so that He would think better of me, so that I could earn His approval. But, my how He’s been changing me. Sometimes, God gives us outward examples as encouragement about inward changes that can otherwise seem so slow in coming. A part of the evidence that God is the security and safe place of my heart was—as silly as it seems—that I was able to laugh at myself and my fashion blunder that night! And it felt so good.
This morning, I went to one of my favorite passages in Romans 5. It starts like this: “Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice…” (vs 1-2) When we understand, really understand—in our hearts as well as our heads—that we are fully and completely accepted through our profession of faith in Christ and what He accomplished through His perfect life, sacrificial death and conquering resurrection, then our daily moments and our daily interactions are different. We are reconciled with our Creator God, we are secure in our standing/our relationship with Him, we are a delight to Him because of our faith in Christ—faith that He gave us in order to believe! We don’t have to earn or chase our acceptance or security from another source. We have it from the preeminent Source! Christ died on our behalf before we were cleaned up, before we even wanted anything to do with Him. Why on earth do we think that since we’ve been accepted by God through Jesus, that in order to keep God’s approval, we have to pretend to be cleaned up to come to Him and be accepted now?
It’s easier to understand when you have your own child(ren.) My sons are my sons and forever will be. They came into this world messy, but they are mine. Period. I love them passionately and ferociously. I tell them regularly, “You are loved. No matter what.” When they are obnoxious, whiny, selfish, mean, tell lies, grumble and complain…I love them anyway. It helps to remember that God loves me anyway when I act that way, too.
That is a very simple way of looking at our relationship with God. He accepts us because we have placed our faith in the Son He sent to save us. As Christ followers, we are accepted fully—no matter what! Through Jesus, our relationship with God is secure. But, there’s more: Our Father God is continually working in us to will and to act according to His good purpose—because He is for us like no one else!!
Do you remember how Jesus described the father in the story of the Prodigal Son? Do you recall how the father in the story reacted to his son when he was walking down the dusty road toward home after spending his inheritance on completely degenerate living and was returning to his father filthy, desperate and filled with shame? The father had been watching for him and when he spotted him a long way off, he ran to his son!! Then He threw a party for him! That story brings me to tears even now. Jesus was telling us about God’s love for us, His children through a parable. I believe it was in those moments of undeserved acceptance that the son really began to understand his father’s love for the very first time and I believe his life had a different heart trajectory from that realization on.
Do you believe God is like that toward you? If you don’t, please ask Him to show you His heart toward you and help you functionally believe what is really True. When we truly understand and believe that God sees us and knows us fully and loves us perfectly and faithfully anyway, everything changes.
In John 8:32, Jesus told people who had placed their belief in Him, “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Our own hearts deceive us. But God stands ready and willing to set us free. He gave His own Son as a love letter to us. He is the fullest and most powerful expression of the love of God for each one of us. Will you go to Him today and every day with your face turned to Him—not downcast in shame—with the full expectation that you are loved and that He is—now and always—running to you with outstretched arms?
“This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His Presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater that our hearts and He knows everything.” 1 John 3:19-20
Dear Father, thank you for seeing us as we are and loving us anyway. Thank you for sending us your Son, Jesus, to rescue us even before we thought we needed Him at all. Thank you that you are greater than our hearts and that your truth sets us free. Please, in your mercy, uproot any untruth that we are living out and shackled by. Free us, oh Lord, to walk in joy with you and to trust you with all our moments. In Jesus’ Name.