This Fall I took a self-evaluation through a website called Heart Life. In this evaluation, we were to rate ourselves in all areas of our personality – where we want to be and where we think we are currently. Then we asked three people close to us to answer the same questions about us, and those answers were anonymously documented and combined to show us where we land in comparison to our own estimation.
It was humbling, to say the least.
I believe the three people I asked know me well and love me deeply, but in their honest evaluations I was made aware of weaknesses in my life that I had been overlooking. Some of these areas may have been a bit surprising, but when I thought back on the year I could see how they came to those estimations. I’ve been defensive for the majority of my life – so that area didn’t surprise me to see a little higher than I would have liked. Sarcasm and competition often come out when you’re on defense, so those areas also were not that surprising.
But I came to one category that really took me a moment to understand — and I felt sucker punched.
I was much, much lower in this area according to my people than I had counted myself. “Unreliable” is never a word I’ve used to describe myself – but the responses were clear as day. If all three folks who know and love me well all see me as unreliable, then there’s something valid there I cannot ignore.
That word has plagued me the last few months.
When I wanted to change plans – I found myself feeling guilt of unreliability and apologizing for letting someone down. When I forgot something small because I didn’t check my planner – I felt this huge burden of shame. I’m unreliable.
It became a word I labeled myself with and the remorse and shame of hurting someone by my weaknesses and faults was a crushing weight that followed me around.
I let my identity be one of unreliability – like a scarlet “U” I was wearing for all to see. It became a badge of shame and I just couldn’t shake the embarrassment. I spent countless hours looking back on my conversations, actions, habits – just asking the Lord how I could have missed this area of my life – and how on earth I could have been so unaware.
But today, I’m changing my tune. Because it’s one thing to be confronted with truth and to allow it to transform our actions. But it’s another thing to hold onto those labels and believe those words are who we are. To get stuck in the feelings of failure as we root our identity in those shortcomings is not gospel – it’s selfishness. It’s unbelief. And it’s not God’s best for us.
I am reading through 2 Corinthians currently and today I came across this verse in chapter 8. Paul is writing to the Corinthians to continue in their giving and support of the kingdom work being done – because this grace to the saints is a blessing to the body of Christ. In verse 11 he explains this truth:
“So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have (2 Corinthians 8:11-12).”
I love the idea here: to let our finish match our start. Don’t get stuck in what we lack and decide not to do anything at all – that’s a limited view of God’s power! The Bible is full of stories of people who loved God but fell short. They had good intentions but they made mistakes. And the best part of those stories is that they all point to Jesus.
The mistake wasn’t the end of the story — because a savior came to remedy and rescue every shortcoming, every failure, every ounce of unreliability. We can face the facts that we are weak and sinful – but the hope is not in ourselves. We don’t just pick ourselves up and try harder – no, we lean into the Lord.
We rely on the fact that God alone is always reliable – and in leaning into Him and being honest before Him, He can redeem the most unreliable and broken pieces of our heart.
He sees the shortcomings and He knows the areas that need work – yet He loves us anyways and extends grace to those weaknesses.
He doesn’t force us to walk around in the shame of disappointment. He invites us to cast those aside and run fast and hard toward a freer version of ourselves as we are daily renewed by the powerful work of Jesus.
There is no area of your life that Jesus cannot redeem. There is no label of your personality that cannot be undone. There is nothing in this world that has more power to define who you are than the life-changing work of the cross.
Jesus – be in us all that we cannot be. You alone are the Reliable One. We long to be made more like you!
That’s my one and only goal for 2017: to know and follow hard after Jesus.
No matter what burden or label you’ve carried around, I want to invite you to run with me as we chase after Christ and allow those shackles of shame to fall by the wayside. Those words of guilt and names of disgrace are not meant to be carried – instead, we can clothe ourselves in dignity and strength and believe that what God has said about us is truth!
We are redeemed, we are loved, we are forgiven, and we are daughters of a Holy God who rescues us from our labels and call us His own – and that, friends, is the only name worth bearing!