One of my great failings as a Christian is the tendency to grab after all the smallest whispers of sin. Someone will say they have a problem with gluttony, and their symptom was a fondness for banana splits. Immediately I’ll respond (in my head), “I like banana splits. Ohmigosh. I’m a glutton! I have to give up ice cream! How hideous I am!” It’s not conviction from the Holy Spirit, it’s self-condemnation. Banana splits are intrinsically yummy – liking them doesn’t mean I’m misusing them.
There’s a temptation in the long-churched… to pursue personal perfection, to be the first person to throw a stone at oneself, to be long-faced and downcast lest unholiness sneak in. We don’t play cards or dance or go to the movies or wear buttons or bright colors or… yeah. Humans. We like to make rules where God hasn’t legislated. If you’re under conviction, you’re under conviction – and that’s one thing. If you’re not, but you want to look (or feel) “good enough” … well, there are folks lined up ’round the block with rules. How many would you like?
My gift is exhortation. And love. I love like I breathe. It’s not like I can help it. You’ll recall your Bible… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, self-control… okay. So I’m a Christian. Love is something that *should* be part of my life. The fastest way for me to cut that flow off is to try to force myself to be something I’m not. I’m a briar rose – trying to train myself into topiary is pointless and ugly.
Beating myself up because of something random that God hasn’t convicted me about is just … it’s me trying to use the pruning shears on myself. Sure, the branches get trimmed – so what? If I’m one of the branches of the Vine, I can’t very well trim *myself*! Just breathe and surrender and bloom, that’s my business. Bloom and enjoy blooming. Enjoy who I am, who God created me to be.
And bring it back to Him. That popped into my head tonight during church… the love that God’s given me through His Spirit, why can’t I aim it at Him once in a while? I don’t have to self-flagellate and hate and stomp my sinful flesh all the time. That puts the focus too much on me. I can open my arms and turn my face to God, turn my attention to Him, love on Him. If He made me what I am, then why not give Him what He made me to give?
And rest and bloom and enjoy. I don’t think any of us are meant to force ourselves into what we aren’t. The Creator made us each unique, and when we find what He made us for, we’ll find great joy in blooming where He’s planted us. Hating ourselves because we’re not calla lilies is silly. Is it sinful? Does He convict? No? Then just be. Relax and bloom and shine and just BE who you were created to be.
Love. Let go of fear, and LOVE. “There is no fear in love…”
Hearts open like the petals on a flower…….