**Warning: Picture says the full word, and I say a-hole several times in this post. I’m sorry for any offense taken by this.
You won’t believe how many thoughts, memories, and meanings this one picture brought up in me when I stumbled across it on Pinterest.
This series, “Setting My Sights,” is ultimately about becoming the best version of me in my Father’s eyes. It’s about seeking His face, praying for His direction, and trying to follow it. So a lot of those inspirational quotes you’ll find on Pinterest or elsewhere on the internet strike a cord with my theme. Why this one in particular?
Well, because I’ll admit it. I can be a real a-hole if I let my sin have free range over myself. That’s the real truth. If I don’t watch myself and seek counsel from the Creator, it is all bad. Without God, I am a true a-hole at heart.
Even when I am trying to reflect God’s grace and love, the temptation is right there on the tip of my tongue ready to spill from my lips. Even yesterday, on the Sabbath Day when I had gone to church and dwelt with my God, my husband said some little thing that rubbed me the wrong way, and I couldn’t help but say, “I’m not saying anything. I am not going to say something I’ll regret.” I’m pretty sure everyone but my ever encouraging mother-in-law would not count that one as a victory. It’s like Friday when one of my students said, “I’m going to put my hands in my pockets so I don’t punch him in the face.” Is that better than my student punching someone in the face? Admittedly, yeah. Does that mean it was necessary or good to say? Obviously, no. Yet, I’m better at refereeing my students’ choices than lassoing my own tongue.
It’s an every day struggle that I choose to continue to strive to conquer. My only hope is in Jesus, and that is why I love the verses “There’ll be days I lose the battle / Grace says that it doesn’t matter / ‘Cause the cross already won the war” in MercyMe’s song, Greater. At best, I’m probably a snarky, smart mouth Christian. I remember years ago, a little while after I had found my footing in my really adult faith, the campus pastors at my college asked me to be on the leadership team for the social justice branch of the student Christian organization. In the same conversation at Middle Ground, the coffee shop on campus, I remember one of them saying something along the lines of, “You’re rough around the edges, but that’s what’s unique about you.”
And I am still learning how to handle that about myself. Is it a case of me being an a-hole, and in that case, do I try to justify my a-holey-ness and merely try to be a better a-hole? Or does God love my edges the way they are? It’s heard to know. One way of discerning what’s too much is to judge what I’ve said and done based on whether it glorified God. This truly is the best standard to put your words and works to because even truth does not always justify us might-be-a-holes. When talking about gossiping, my pastor said this Sunday that people often try to use the justification, “But I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true” or “I’m only speaking the truth.” I myself am guilty of saying that phrase A LOT. I’ll admit it; I even get satisfaction saying what most people won’t and basing it on my value for truth and integrity. But my pastor had the goofiest and most clarifying way of showing the error in this. He said, “Yeah, it might be true. Doodoo stinks. That doesn’t mean you should fling it around!”
That’s what we rough-around-the-edges-Christians (recovering a-hole Christians?) need to think about when we’re deciding whether to say what we want to say. I mean, get this, friends who might know where I’m coming from, we may be 100% right, but if it’s not coming from the right place and coming out for the right purpose, there is no need to say it.
But ultimately, I find hope in thinking that a lot of misfit Christians have these inner debates about their own identity. In fact, that’s why I have the headline “Claiming My Identity Freed in Christ’s Grace” on my blog. When I read the Gospel, and I get real with what Christ did for me, I know I know I know I know He loves me and there was a purpose for creating me this way. And I know if my story resonates with you in any way, I need to tell you He loves you, too, He created you on purpose, He loves who you are, and He can use it for His glory. I promise. The Lord, my savior promises, too. In fact, He told us all, “It is freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1).
Alone, I’m nothing but an a-hole with a major tendency to self-glorification. But when I set my sights on God’s glory, He frees me to be an instrument of His love just the way He made me.