It was big. Really big. No, not my appetite for Tostitos cheese dip (which I love) or my obsession with shoes (which is even bigger than my jewelry obsession), no, that’s not what I’m talking about. Those require adjectives of giant proportion. But what I’m talking about here is my nose.
My best friend says it was a witch’s nose with a hook. When she says this to me I struggle to remember why we’ve been best friends for nearly thirty years. And then I begrudgingly remember that honesty is a virtue.
My grandmother ran a finger down its bumpy surface when I was fourteen and said, “We can take care of that, honey.” She said it so lovingly, and I knew what she meant. A nose job. And she would pay for it.
After years of walking sideways so boys wouldn’t see my profile, after perfecting every other part of me that I could control (nails, skin, lip gloss and clothes), I got a nose job. I was nineteen. I can’t tell you I never looked back because that’d be a lie. My old nose is in all my old school pictures. I see it when I look at my father and my brother. And sometimes, nearly twenty (gasp!) years later, I see my old nose when I look in the mirror. The gangly awkward girl is still in there, even after all these years.
I know how it feels to walk around weighed down by something that should’ve been left behind but can still stare me down in the mirror. We can all relate, right?
This is not about plastic surgery. Had I known about Christ earlier in my life, maybe I wouldn’t have relied on a scalpel to reshape my image. But I didn’t so I can’t say. I’m not the only person who carries a part of my past with me – and this isn’t even the only part of my past shoved into my luggage that I schlep from one baggage claim to another.
Remember the Trinity of Self I mentioned in last week’s blog? It’s broken down into Who You Were (i.e. me with a big nose and sans Jesus), Who You Are (us now) and Who You Will Be.
Who You Were
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old one is gone, the new one is here.” That’s a promise BUT to many of us it feels like another way we wind up letting Jesus down. You’re a new creation but the old you is still fighting for a first class seat on your flight. What are you carrying that is keeping you in the past? It’s probably more significant than a big nose. What about a habit? A relationship? A negative thought process?
Who You Will Be
Many of us get hung up on who we wish we were and how we’re failing to become the person we feel Jesus is shaping us to be. In leadership I see this a lot. A close friend sees the decisions I make and wonders why she isn’t there yet. Tithing, fasting, and disciplined quiet time are disciplines she’s working on, but she feels heavy with guilt, afraid she’s falling short. She forgets my journey has been a long one and she just stepped onto the road. Do you have someone in your life you look up to and you can’t seem to put away the measuring stick?
The other day a gal in my Bible study commented on my ability to pray aloud. “How do you do that?” she said, “It seems so easy for you.” I shared with her that I used to be the same way. When it came to prayer, I was suddenly mute, with my eyes glued shut. Because I wasn’t there yet.
God doesn’t give us a stopwatch when he calls us onto our mission field.
I mentioned last week that Peter is one of my favorite disciples. He’s my favorite because his imperfection is paramount in the gospels. When Jesus meets Simon, He changes his name to Peter, which means rock. But notice something, even after Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter, He calls him Simon again – and often. It’s as though Jesus uses the name Peter to remind Simon of his calling in Christ, and He tosses Simon back out there when Peter has said something embarrassingly human and perfectly relatable.
Instead of comparing our walk to others and setting our stopwatch to theirs, what if we thought of a name Jesus would call us to help us remember to focus on what He wants for us? We can keep our own pace, but we can screen-print that reminder on our jersey.
Who You Are
This is actually the lightest part of your trinity. Who you are now is often a combination of the person you were and the person you want to be. The key is to avoid picking your today apart because you’re still thinking about your yesterday and planning for tomorrow.
Steven Furtick says in his book Unqualified:
“We think it is our God-given calling and the height of Christian clarity to nit-pick at each other and ourselves. To get out our magnifying glasses and tweezers and try to eliminate every last trace of our sinful nature. Meanwhile, a world around us is in desperate need of the love and grace of God. People are hungry for what we have, but we’re too discouraged by our first-world sins – our temper problems and our pride issues and our pornography addictions – to notice. We think we have to be perfect before we can be effective” (123).
I love this! We all know that in our present we’re not complete. (Thank God, right?) We are all a perfect example of imperfection.
I’m just thankful Jesus doesn’t have a stopwatch or a measuring stick. Just love and grace. And maybe a great nickname to spur us on.
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