Being human and imperfect is a hard job when you’ve been conditioned to strive for perfection. Can I get an amen from my Southern sisters out there? Or really from any woman in the world. It’s almost as if perfection is this unattainable goal that provides a purpose to continue to persevere. In my mind and heart, I know I can’t achieve it, but at least there’s a reason behind my breaths. There’s a chance every morning that this could be the day that I do something right—the day that I’ll fill in a piece of the pie of perfection. See, we perfectionists have got it all wrong. So wrong. Especially those of us who are believers.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is in Jeremiah 18. I didn’t even have to look it up to confirm. That’s how much I love it.
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: ‘Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.”
Just in case you missed this:
“And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.”
The CEV says, “And when the clay would not take the shape he wanted.” That’s me. I’m not easily malleable. I’m a difficult piece of clay to mold. I wiggle around, squirm, and writhe, making the Potter’s job harder than it should be. The most comforting part of this passage is, “he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.”
When unfavorable things happen, I have a habit of saying “It’s fine. I’m fine.” When I’m wiggling, squirming, and writhing around, God is saying, “It’s fine. You’re fine.” He just reworks this stubborn, difficult, rebellious clay into good. He desires to make me into who He has commissioned me to be.
This would be a perfect moment to play some old school, mass choir, back and forth rocking, hand clapping, Walter & Tramaine Hawkins! Mother Hawkins said, “You don’t have to stay in the shape that you’re in. The Potter wants to put you back together again.” If you’re not into old school gospel like I am, Vashawn Mitchell remade this song with Fantasia Barrino and Mother Barrino. I digress.
Though we’re human and fallible, it is still hard to accept our shortcomings. My divorce made me feel much like Hester Prynne; except my scarlet letter was an embroidered “D”. I have noticed that this is a common sentiment for those of us who have failed. (Read as everyone). As much as we try to hide it, we wear our guilt and shame as a cloak that weighs us down—warding off grace. After one year of coping and months of counseling, I finally threw off my cloak and welcomed undeserved grace.
I made a mistake.
Not only can I admit my mistake, I also accepted it.
It happens. We all fall short.
My counselor (who is an amazing, inspiring woman of God) asked me what I see myself as. I responded, “A portrait of grace.”
Aren’t we all? Imagine God as a painter–as we are all His handiwork. He created you in His image and throughout life, much like the clay, you’ve been spoiled. You’re flawed. You’re bruised. You’re broken. You’re anything but this so called “masterpiece”. Surely, your past and your failures have muddled the beauty of His work. Right?
That is as far from the truth as your transgressions are from the east and the west.
What you’ve deemed as vile and unforgivable are beautiful strokes in your portrait. Your past, your hurts, and your hang-ups have all been incorporated into a blameless, righteous, and holy portrait of grace. Think about your life and attribute each significant event, whether good or bad, as a stroke in a portrait of you. What ashes has He turned into beauty? What sorrow has he turned into joy? See yourself as He see you.
What does your portrait look like?
The Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. – Isaiah 61:3