I wish I could type in every word I’ve read by Brennan Manning. But I can’t…you know, copyright nonsense.
Insecurity not only paralyzes our relationship with the living God, but has a devastating effect on interpersonal relationships. It is the starting point of all social estrangement. It breaks down openness, which is the bridge to the existential world of the other. It undermines real communication and causes a kind of rupture in the evolution of authentic personality.
From The Importance of Being Foolish by, none other than, Brennan Manning.
It was actually quite ironic that I read this bit today.
I am quickly approaching the end my first full month in Uganda. If you haven’t been reading along, here’s the short version. I had expectations of how I was going to feel, how this trip was going to change me. The expectations were not met. I was discouraged and disappointed. I have since (read: recently, as in the past week) let go of such expectations, and started trusting Jesus with a deeper trust than I ever gave him the opportunity of having before.
I started trusting that although I wasn’t feeling a certain way, He was using me here. Jesus was not revealing my stubborn and ignorant heart to these children. He was revealing my kisses and “I love you”s, my teethbrushing and tutoring efforts. Ultimately, Jesus was revealing Himself in me. Jesus was prevailing. Jesus was winning the war I was having with myself.
I think it was probably this weekend, a change finally happened and I threw up my white, surrender flag. Jesus, you win. After I practically drowned in a class five rapid, I was somewhat scared to continue on in the raft. We had the option of going in the safe boat. Then I heard it. No, I didn’t hear the voice of Jesus. Well maybe it was Jesus, but I don’t know for sure. I’m not one to normally recite things, I can’t remember verses or movie lines. But it started repeating in the back of my brain, the tail end of Nehemiah 8:10 (I didn’t remember the actual location of the verse, I looked it up when I got home). “…the joy of the LORD is your strength, the joy of the LORD is your strength, the joy of the LORD is your strength.” I know that’s a fairly common saying among Christians, but like I said, I don’t normally recite stuff. I think Jesus was getting a lot of joy from seeing me finally really take hold of the adventurous spirit He gave me, and I found strength in that and continued on in the rapids. There were a few moments where I caught myself smiling bigger than I have in years. It was so hard to contain. It was hurting my face. And it was a smile that could not be attributed to any other person’s doing. It was the joy of the Lord, bursting forth in my being.
I have been so lost in the pursuit of things (a job, relationships, making my family proud, saving money, going to Africa, general approval from people), that I have absolutely and miserably failed to see God’s pursuit of me. And it’s a pursuit that knows no timeframe or distance, seeing as it’s followed me 23 years and halfway around the world.
I’ve been filled with a false perception of perfection. I’ve met this realization before, but I don’t know if I’ve ever actually acknowledged it. I’ve read it time and time again, and probably even highlighted it each time. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Now you’re probably wondering how any of this has to do with the excerpt. While reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, I read a part where Lewis mentions how a person cannot fully love a fellow being without first loving God. I was (and still very much am) insecure regarding my relationship with Jesus Christ. Thus creating all sorts of insecurities in myself, and shortchanging the people with whom I have relationships. This includes, but is not limited to: not trusting that my parents would love me regardless of how high I jumped, telling my sister false things so she wouldn’t turn around and hate me, not communicating openly with my friends because I didn’t want to cause conflict, sacrificing things I’m shouldn’t be willing to sacrifice in relationships to be the perfect girlfriend.
I was/am insecure in the person Jesus created me to be. Therefore, the relationships I have with anyone tend to be somewhat false. It’s taken 27 Ugandan children to reveal to me how perfect the person God has created me to be actually is. I can wear the same dress three days in a row, and they still embrace me. I can wear my glasses all the time and be breaking out from not using normal face wash, and they still tell me I’m beautiful. I can dance with no rythym, and they try to do the same. I can sing off key, and they want to hear another song. I can get frustrated during a lesson, and they come to me the next day wanting more. I don’t know why I had to go so far from “home” to see this, you love me just the same.
Clearing away the insecurities allows me the ability to see God’s pursuit of me. And in turn, also allows me to pursue God more fully and maintain more secure, honest relationships. I almost posted a preface to this entry, warning of it’s overly spiritual tone…but then I thought, screw it, being more secure in my relationship with Christ means being transparent, even at the risk of making others feel uncomfortable.
I am truly learning to love you and I miss you. The night is coming to an end and I’ll leave you with 1 Corinthians 13:10 …but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.