I'm beginning 2018 very humbled.
When I say that, I don't mean it in the way that an actor accepting an Oscar feels "humbled" or how a person who may have just experienced a great personal success would caption their "humility" on social media. (We've probably all been guilty of that.) Nope, I'm talking about real humility, a lowly view of one's own importance according to Webster.
I realize this is kind of seems like the antithesis of the perky "New Year - New You" posts that typically clutter our feeds in January, but if you stick it out until the end, like me, you may find some inspiration woven in these words.
Humility isn't a natural state for most of us. It's not for me, at least. We usually don't arrive there by choice. Rather, life usually drags us kicking and screaming down a road that we never intended to walk, a road paved with disappointment: with situations, status, and people. But I think sometimes the most difficult kind of setback to digest is the disappointment in one's own self. That one can be a bitter pill to swallow. And there is nothing quite like a sin to make you feel like an evil-doing scoundrel.
If I'm real honest, I've always had a hard time with the word sinner. You can just hear the condemnation seeping from its consonants. It's one that I, even as a church girl with my churchy lingo, don't like to include in my vocabulary, and I think I've always just felt crushed under the weight of that word...SINNER.
So, in an effort to avoid any association with that label, I sometimes find myself trying to offset it by doing good. Meaning, I will give to my church with my time, money, and talents. I will avoid places and things that probably aren't really good for me. I will help my neighbor out. I will volunteer to those less fortunate than myself. I will read my Bible and invest my mind in good books and say my prayers and all the good things. I'll be the best version of myself that I can be, and it feels good!
Until it doesn't. Until I fall on my face in sin or failure or weakness, and this whole good-girl economy that I have built my life around crumbles before me in devastating disappointment, and I find myself humbled and somewhat wrecked at the lack of my own goodness.
Lately, the conclusion that I have come to is this: there is no such thing as a good person. That kind of stings, huh? I'm really shocked that I am saying it because everything in me wants to believe that I, Andrea, am a good person. I've tried so hard to be a good person. I've spent so much time and energy trying to do good things and build a good life.
But think about it. We aren't naturally good. Can we do good things? Yes. Should we do good things? Absolutely! We learn to do good things at a very young age: to say please and thank you and share our toys. We have to be taught how to be grateful and polite and kind. Some of us pick up on these things quicker than others. Some of still struggle, proving that we are not innately good, rather have been trained in our goodness.
As of late, I'm really feeling what Paul was saying in Romans 7 when he says there is nothing good in him, and although he really wants to do good, sin keeps sabotaging his best intentions. I can relate so well to his plight. He basically spends the rest of that chapter admitting what a big fat sinner he is, and I have to say that I find it very inspirational. If Paul who wrote most of the New Testament (and one of my personal Biblical heroes) can admit how bad he sucks as a person as times, then I surely can too because, really, like he says, it isn't about me.
Where I once shuttered at the very utterance of the word, I now can find a sort of solace in it. In fact, I can think of nothing more liberating than confessing my sinfulness. If I was good all by myself, I wouldn't even need Jesus. And, oh y'all, I NEED Jesus!
When I come face-to-face with the fact that I am a sinner, it frees me from having "save myself" through an endless parade of good deeds that could never compensate for the darkness inside. The recognition of my shortcomings beautifully contrasts the infinite goodness of Jesus. When I'm open about my inadequacies, I become acutely aware of my need for Him, the only truly good thing from which all good springs forth.
And this amazes me to think that Jesus doesn't love me because I'm a good girl that makes all the right decisions and does it all perfectly. No. He loves me just as much when I am knee-deep in my fleshy, bad choices and making a mess out of my life. That's so hard for us to fathom in our commodity culture where we cut people out of our lives as soon as they stop giving us what we want. But that's not God. When I turn to him, he lets me off the hook and gives me a grace I could never deserve or earn!
I love this passage in The Message version of Romans 8:3-4.
"God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn't deal with the problem as something remote or unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the distorted mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could have never done that"!
I love where it says He took it personally. He did this for me, Andrea. He said, "Girl, you're a hot mess, but you're mine, and you matter more to me than you could ever understand. And I know you can't handle all the junk that comes with sin, but I can. I got you!" That's how I read it anyway.
So, I am beginning this year at the beginning, at the foundation with the admission that I'm just a sinner that needs Jesus more today than I ever have before, and I'll need him more tomorrow than today. It's my ground zero, one that should be visited often to reverently remember what happened here and the gravity of the redemption that follows.
And while I'm not outwardly celebrating my sins and still struggle with confession of them even as I type this, it feels like a very human and vulnerable place to be at the moment, a very honest place, one where beautiful things can grow. And for that I'm hopeful of what this year will bring!
From one sinner to another,
Hey! My name is Andrea. I'm a teacher by day in a small Texas town, but in every other aspect of my life, I consider myself a learner. This blog is about life: learning through experiences, sharing through stories, and growing through faith.