In a lecture I listened to a few weeks ago, the main topic was confession. One of the things Laurie encouraged us to do in order to put our old sinner girl to death and live from our new identity in Christ was to be honest with ourselves about our sin, confess our sin, and confess it quickly. I started thinking a lot about that. In my “want to fix everything and make it perfect and right” sinner self, when I see my sin, my first reaction is not to go to the Lord with it and confess it. When I see that once again I am looking at myself and being a brat in my head about how I would rather be anywhere other than work, I try to change my thoughts on my own first, fix them because I know they’re wrong and sinful, and then go to the Lord later and confess what I did wrong. There’s a major difference in saying to the Lord, “God I confess that I was being selfish and my thoughts were only on me and my job and what I want,” and, “God I am looking at myself right now, I don’t want to be here, my flesh wants my way and not yours.” The first example, I’m realizing, does not actually change anything, but keeps my focus more on me as I believe in my sinner self that I can “fix” my sin.
The Lord is revealing how I am truly making light of my sin when I think that I can do something on my own and then confess something I did to Him rather than bringing it to Him right at that moment and asking for His mercy. In reading Donald S. Whitney’s book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, he said something that the Lord really wouldn’t allow me to stop thinking about. Whitney said, “Mere admission is not confession. Christ is dishonored by a frivolous view of confession that does not appreciate how much our sin cost him.” I confessed to my mentor that I feel like a broken record when confessing to the Lord because so many of the sins I confess, I confess over and over and over again to Him. And while only the Lord in His grace, in His perfect time will allow victory over a particular sin, I do believe that I’m one of those women Laurie referred to in her lecture that don’t truly put their sinner girl to death in confession; they don’t truly take their sin as seriously as it is and just accept that that’s how they’re going to be. I have been admitting my sin, but not confessing my sin and humbling myself before the Lord in true heartbreak over what my sin really did cost Him.
I started wondering why I was trying to cover up my sin and not bring it to the Lord. I couldn’t put into words what it was that the Lord was trying to teach me. I was on the phone with a friend and she said to me something along the lines of, “God has really been teaching me that I can really bring everything to lay at His feet. Even if I know it’s not the righteous response I should be having, He still wants me to bring that to Him.” I was so thankful after that phone call because I knew the Lord had put what I couldn’t into words for me. He really does want all from me. He knows all and He simply says, “Come.” What sweet, sweet love that really is!
Even knowing how loving He is though, it’s still really scary to confess because there are things I know in my head that I think or do that I would never want to say out loud to anyone; they’re embarrassing, they’re awful, they’re cruel. But after meeting with my mentor and talking this through with her and confessing to her, I knew that I had to be real with the Lord. In an effort to be completely transparent with you, I want to share my prayer journal from the next day after meeting with my mentor about something that I have really been struggling with: my identity in the way I look. I told you a few entries ago that I knew this went deeper than what I may have originally written about!
“Will you help me be really honest here with you God? I want to give this all to you, lay everything in front of you. Lord, like I was sharing last night, one thing I believe I’m doing is merely admitting to you what I’m doing wrong. I’m not extremely heartbroken over it and if I am, it’s more of a sadness that I’m not being good. Even now, Lord, as I’m wanting to really say all of this to you, my mind is wandering because I think this is more a formality for me. I don’t think of my sin as sinning against you, I think of how it makes me not good. I make it all about me. I also, Lord, cling to, hope in, have my identity in the way I look. I scan rooms to measure if I’m the prettiest or not. I look and think of people differently based off how pretty they are. Last night, we discussed how the prettiest girl in the room can isolate herself because no one can relate, others are intimidated. I’ve been intimidated by beautiful women and wanted to be like them. When watching a show or a play my eyes are always fixed on the most beautiful one on the stage and that’s who I would watch. I feel superior or inferior based on how I size myself up to others. I want to be that perfect girl that no one can attain to. I want to ‘have it all.’ Last night we also talked about how at the end of our life here we would want people to say they saw you in me. Lord, I really do want that to be my desire, but, Lord, the truth is that I want people to think she had it all—she was beautiful, beautiful family, she was loving, she was compassionate…so I do want people to think I was sweet, but more like a southern belle, not because it was your love coming through me. Lord, I really do hate writing all this down, it’s embarrassing and I do really know how ridiculous it all is. A little more here—I look at my reflection whenever I can, I don’t know if I just want to see myself or what. If I feel like I look pretty or ugly my mood is different during my day or I react differently with friends. I fear getting ugly while pregnant. I fear what people will think of me. I fear what my husband will think of me. Lord this really is the reality of me. I know it’s dumb. I know it’s all lies. I know that there’s much more than this physical world, yet I cling to it so tightly with my looks and how others view me. Thank you that I do desire to deny myself. Last night when talking, my mentor made such a great point about how this is a spiritual battle and focusing on my beauty keeps me from experiencing your real beauty. Your beauty and you that makes everything in this life seem like [a cheap knock off] in comparison—this life is not the real deal. I really don’t know how to deny myself, Lord. My self seems so strong and desires to be remembered for cheap reasons. Please, Lord, forgive me. Will you grant me grace to repent, completely? I want to hope in you alone. I want to cling to the real thing, the real love, the real world….Lord, thank you for this desire, but I don’t know how to make the desire reality. I don’t have the power to do it and that’s honestly really frustrating. I know that if I could do it, it would still be all about me. Lord, only you can free me from this, but will you help me fight? Will you help me say no to me and look to you? Will you help me see who you really are and who I really am in you? Remind me each day who this day is for—and it’s not for me. Father, I don’t want to identify with this sin anymore. Please help me. Can you help me feel your grace today? Thank you, Father, that I really can bare all to you and you’re not turning your face from me.”
When talking to my mentor the night before I wrote this to the Lord, we also discussed how denying our self is like the woman that anointed Jesus’ feet with oil in Luke 7. I recalled the story faintly, but didn’t know where it was in the Bible, nor did I go look it up, but it was something that the Lord really wanted me to see. The evening after confessing all of this to the Lord at another commitment I’m involved with, we read that exact story and talked about this woman who entered into the Pharisees’ house and had no regard for what they thought of her as she wept at Jesus’ feet, cleaned his feet with her tears, and then poured out the most expensive perfume she had to anoint Him without a second thought. She knew the reality of her sins and what she had been forgiven and given mercy for. As I read the story, I believe I can almost see her finally get in front of Jesus and just exhale. She bared all before Him and had faith in who He was, not in who she was; she actually had no thought for herself at all. The Pharisees thought she was so weird and were critical of her, and not only that, but I imagine that was the most expensive possession she owned and she knew it was a cheap item in comparison to the riches of Jesus. Oh how I long to be like this woman.
The Lord has been revealing to me over the past few weeks that this goes deeper than my looks. I bow to others’ thoughts of me in almost every regard. I’ve witnessed so many examples of the isolation that is caused by my sin as I continue to cling to this world instead of clinging so tightly to my Savior. This is a daily battle, but I am thankful that the Lord is opening my eyes to see my sin and the realities of it, I’m thankful for the desire to be like this woman, and I’m thankful that He’s allowing me to see him at work. Today, while I see that my flesh is black with sin, I’m choosing to look instead to my Savior, where my real identity is found and cling to that and praise His name and His name alone. It’s easy to type that, but a whole other thing to actually live that out today. I will probably have to do it over and over and over again and I can only choose this by God’s grace. But God is greater than my sin and He is for me, not against me. And He’s for you too. He loves you, and He doesn’t want any of us settling for the cheap knock off when He’s freely given us the real thing in Him. Be encouraged—we can bring all to him and just exhale.
Planted for His Glory