While I have never been one to think I’m perfect, I’ve also never been one to really announce all my shortcomings. I deal with them privately, work to overcome them and move on. Except sometimes, it doesn’t work out that way. Sometimes, I compartmentalize my sin because I simply don’t want to call it sin. I push it aside in my mind to tackle at a later date. I wrongly justify my misaligned thoughts or actions. I talk myself into the gray when situations are more clearly black and white.
And that devil on my shoulder disguised as something good keeps telling me that I can control a situation before it gets out of hand . . . that by sheer willpower, I can keep teetering situations from toppling over the edge . . . that I have the power to right a questionable situation and turn it into good for all involved.
But I’ve learned the hard way that reliance on self is a weakness. I may be strong for a while, but I will always falter. And though the thought of admission of sin and submission to God sounds like the weaker approach, in actuality, it’s the harder choice, but the only one that will yield any power over sin.
Everyone tackles sin differently, but I’ve found that my hardest step is simply the initial step of admitting I’m wrong. I see myself through a “good person” lens I’ve falsely concocted in my mind over the years. I talk myself into believing I am selfless and always put other first. I convince myself that the “best of intentions” is enough to continue on a sinful route. I think I am strong enough to sit in the den of sin alone and not be affected.
But I’m not.
It’s been hard to admit, but I’m not a good person. None of us are. I am selfish, even when sometimes it’s disguised as I’m serving others. And the Holy Spirit often convicts my “good intentions,” but I am the one who ignores the warning signs. Too often, I play the role of Pharisee as I am casting the first stone.
Taking a good hard look inward has been eye-opening. I’ve experienced the stages of shame, guilt and embarrassment, wondering how it took until my late 30s to realize I’d fooled myself by painting a false picture of myself in my mind. And as with many people, it took a tipping point to bring all this to light, to expose the naivete and to be humbled by a clearer vision of myself without blinders.
For a while, I felt inadequate and useless, not knowing where to direct my energies. But I was grateful for the burden that was lifted and the freedom it gave my heavy heart. Eventually, God pulled me out of the muck and gave me a fresh viewpoint of hope and purpose. He gave me another change to sprout and grow. He reminded me that my life is not about me—not my wants nor my needs—despite the opposite message that culture sends nowadays. Focusing on what I want is the easiest way for Satan to lure me into sin because I end up taking my eyes off Jesus to focus on myself.
To say I’ve been humbled by this experience is an understatement. But I pray that when I look back on my mistakes, both recent and those in the past, I can only hope those memories serve as reminders that I am not strong enough on my own. As confident, independent, disciplined and resourceful as I can be at times, there is no power or purpose in those skills if they are not backed by Jesus.