2 Corinthians 12:9 - "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
*disclaimer - pretty lengthy post :)
My mom would remind me before every youth camp or conference that she was praying that I would grow and as I did, to know that's what it was - growth. When I learned something new, it didn't mean that I didn't know Jesus - it just meant I was learning more about Him. She'd tell me to never be scared of growth but also that I needed to recognize it for what it was. What wise words...I have often reflected on them during my life. I was saved at the age of 4. I know that is true and that from then forward if I died, I would indeed have eternal life with Jesus. However, the growth in my relationship with Him is far from over - I have much to learn, much to glean, much to apply...the list could go on and on. So from time to time inbetween the Ryleigh updates and ministry updates - you'll probably read about some of that growth. I just wanted to give you a glimpse into why I'm choosing to share it.
One of my weakest areas is vulnerability. I've read Grace for the Good Girl (highly recommended by the way) and God used that book to show me how much I struggle with it. He led me into a room that I've created full of "masks". These masks aren't wild and crazy...they are the masks of a "good girl". Someone who was brought up in church, did Bible Drills, youth choir, mission trips, VBS, and then even went to a Christian college, not to mention - all the while longing desperately to live in Africa. Absolutely nothing in the world is wrong with any of these things...most of the time I was even praised for choosing them and the Lord used each of them to teach me more about Himself. However, there were times I was doing the "right thing" to be who I thought people wanted or expected me to be. The majority of these expectations were created in my mind and were no where near what people were truly thinking. The bad part was that my heart was not ALWAYS in the right place and there were times that I did things out of selfish motives. I honestly don't believe I was aware of this until the past few years, when He has been showing me strongholds in my life. Maybe, I didn't want to be made aware but nonetheless, I'm trying my best to listen now.
The biggest "mask" I wear is not letting others in. Does that make sense? I have told myself that I should be a "strong" person, when in reality showing others my weaknesses can only glorify the Lord more. Some of you may not care to know who I really am - a weak, sinful, prideful, child of the strongest, most holy, selfish God. But, I need to put it out there anyway. I need to be vulnerable because then there's no room for pride. I enjoy writing and this blog is often where some of my thoughts end up. My prayer is that when you read things about my life and what's going on over here in Madagascar is that you see His glory. That you truly understand how unqualified and unworthy I am. It is through His power alone that I am here. It is through His strength, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and love that I make it through each day. And frankly, that's how each of us should be, that's the only way each of us should ever make it through any given moment no matter where in this world we are. Realizing this does not mean we have "arrived" and life from here on out is smooth sailing - ha - in reality it means that I try to be continually aware of the fact that I will drown if my eyes come off of Him (oh how much there is to learn from those childhood Bible stories).
It seems that I'm not the only one God is teaching this to. Two very close friends of mine have recently commented the following...
"...the Lord is shedding light on my own heart & my own insecurities & my own fears. My fears of being known. Cause let me tell you friend...when you are truly known by someone, they get to see the good AND the bad & sometimes it hurts deep. But there's another side of being truly known & that is the side that allows the Lord's grace to be magnified, His strength to show itself as greater & His name to be lifted up. The side that allows for deep grace & community to form with people that you may never have dreamt would ever have been formed. The side that allows for hurts but also allows for joys & lots of laughter..."
"All of that to say, I now feel completely exposed with you. That scares me to death, but ultimately I know it will bring healing too. To be known is to be loved, and to be loved is to be known. I don't want you to love who I want you to think I am. I want you to love who I really am...and that takes being known."
We desperately need honesty in our lives. There are so many trivial things that become huge things because of the masks that we wear. Our SAVIOR - the only holy and perfect One...He knows us intimately and nothing can compare to the depth of which He loves us...
"O LORD, you have searched me and you known me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD." Psalms 139:1-4
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all Creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39