Surface vs. Center

I’m very concerned with appearances. It’s a struggle I’ve had for a while. Honestly, this blog post is not going to be as polished as some of the others I might write, because in my heart I know that appearances are less important than content. This world loves appearances because they’re physical, and physical is a great way to ignore the spiritual. But content is spiritual. Content is the guts to your physical skin. Content is the soul to your physical body. Content is what matters, ultimately – the contents of character and not the color of skin, to roughly paraphrase Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I believe that every prayer and sermon is first and foremost directed at the one speaking and doing the praying. It’s with that in mind that I encourage you, if you have a thirst to create, a thirst to share part of yourself with others in some way, a thirst to know and be known – do it. You’re going to do it wrong, but it’s very difficult to steer a ship that isn’t moving. It’s better to sail in the wrong direction for a while and adjust course once you start getting a feel of the water than to stare at the map in your cabin for years mulling over the best way to get to the new world.

The things we imagine are very different from our expectations once we start actually doing them.

A saying that has been an inspiration to me is “give yourself permission to suck.” Seriously. All of us are, by nature, going to begin things. We’re going to be new at things, and we’re probably going to be bad at those new things we’re trying to do. We need to give ourselves permission to be bad at them so that we can continue working at it until we’re good. If we don’t give ourselves permission to suck, we’ll quit. It’s a pretty simple conflict of wants. We have to surrender the want to look competent in order to achieve the want of being successful. We have to surrender “look” to “be” in order to grow – when we do so, we can be real with ourselves, and when we’re real with ourselves, we have an accurate map of what we’re actually like, and we can ask God to help us change the things that aren’t working.

Like I said, I have this unhealthy focus on how I look. Another quote that has stood out to me was from 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John Maxwell. He says that, paraphrasing again, all people spend a percentage of their life attempting to display skills we do not possess. As I say that, I realize that he may have been quoting someone else, but the thought stands. This is one of my big problems. I’m concerned with appearances. I want to go through life looking cool, looking good, looking in control, because I want people to like me.

Because of this, when I’m concerned with looks, I don’t actually get close to anyone, because if I get close to someone, I have to show myself to them, and they’ll see me, and I can’t hide in the bushes like Adam did in the garden. I’m naked and I’m afraid. But it’s important to remember that, in the Garden of Eden, God cursed the ground Adam walked on, but he didn’t curse Adam. I’m not cursed, you’re not cursed. We’ve been given the right to become children of God. That’s very humbling, because I’m naked, afraid, and I don’t come anywhere close to deserving that gift. I don’t have a glorified bone in my body outside of what He’s given me. Remember, that is available to all of us.

“Lord, thank you for knowing the deepest groans of my heart, even when I don’t have a clue what to pray for. Thank you for sending inspiration and encouragement in the most unlikely of places and people. I ask that you truly kill my old self and help me see the new man I am in your blameless Son, Jesus Christ. When my focus on my appearance interferes with the work you’re doing in my life, Lord, strip me raw of pretense and help me see the heart of the matter. It’s by your power that I’m able to do anything that lasts. Lord, break down the unbreakable walls I’ve built between you and my heart. I ask that you prepare your servants for the good work you have in store for the cities of Salem and Keizer. Let us know you on a deep and personal level, bypassing all formality and legalism until we dwell squarely in the heart of your will. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.”

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