I would like to start this post with what is now becoming a customary thank you to whoever may be praying for me. You know what, I am actually starting to get embarrassed now! I would like to repeat my request for this mysterious person to let me know who they are. That is if indeed someone is praying. The truth is that I sincerely don’t know. I don’t know whether there truly is anyone praying at all, or if the changes in my life are simply a reflection of my own prayers – I mean quite literally the prayers that I pray for other people being reflected back into my own life. I don’t actually know whether prayer does work this way. It is an extra possibility that I am bouncing around in my mind. I guess the only reason I care is because I’m “not-so-secretly” hoping that it will be the person I hope is praying for me. Perhaps I’ll never know. If indeed there is someone out there praying for me, I don’t know how long it will last, but I am so grateful for it thus far, and will remain grateful always, and I thank you!
In a way, I would prefer not to talk on and on and on about this subject of the mysterious “pray-er”, but it is quite relevant to the subject I would like to talk about today. That is, presenting ourselves to one another, not just in our strengths, but also in our weaknesses. This is why the topic of the mysterious pray-er is relevant to this post. These things that are occurring to me, that the Spirit of God is revealing to me, that might be the result of this person’s prayer, are to do with my character. And for the most part, the revelations are not deeply flattering! On one hand, it is so good to see a clearer picture of myself, so that I know what I need to work on. On the other hand, it is somewhat embarrassing to think that someone else might have noticed these gaping holes in my character, to the extent of specifically praying for them, especially if this someone is someone that I might want to be trying to impress! And this is one of the uncertainties: if there is indeed someone praying, is it that they can see these things, and they actually are praying specifically for these things, or is it that they might not be able to specifically see these things, but are just praying generally, and it is the Spirit of God that applies the prayer as necessary?! If that makes sense?! If there is indeed someone praying specifically for these issues, then I can deduce what kind of person they are from the prayers. Alternatively, it genuinely might be a reflection of my own prayers that I too am praying for other people. It might be that somehow it works that my own prayers for other people also have an effect in my own life. To be honest, I’ve always secretly wondered what the point was in Christians praying for one another. If I pray for myself and you pray for yourself, then that should be us both covered, right?! However, I guess the very point is that even when I am open to the Spirit of God, even when I am reading the Bible and opening my heart as far as possible to hear from God, my thoughts will tend to flow in the same way, there will be certain things that jump out at me. So someone else will see in my life, and pray for, things that I would never see in myself, and vice-versa.
So now onto the post proper!
Here is the point: This is true for me, and I’ve always assumed that it is true for everyone else too: when I meet the man whom I will eventually go on to marry, I have always assumed that we will mutually impress one another deeply. I do genuinely pursue God. I do genuinely invest myself into the Bible. I do genuinely pray. Because of these things, I have always assumed that I would completely dazzle him by the force of my character and that it would work equally the other way around. I have certainly met people who have dazzled me by the force of their character. Conversely I have definitely walked away from potential relationships because I found the men concerned emphatically undazzling. I have always known that I am not perfect and that my husband would not be perfect either, and yet I still expected us to mutually “come across” as being outstanding. And yet all these questions about prayers, as well as other considerations, have forced me to consider another alternative. That is, presenting ourselves to one another not in shining, glowing strength, but also in our weaknesses, our failings, and hoping that the other person will not reject us.
I find this kind of thinking more common in other church backgrounds, where they almost seem to celebrate and cultivate their weaknesses and hanging around with these people all that you seem to hear is what they can’t do and what they are bad at and what they struggle with. There is something to be said for candour, definitely. However, I always feel that all this is more an expression of negativity, and not very Christian, actually. Ironically, considering last week’s post on my Bible blog, I suspect that many people see this as “humility”, whereas I actually see it as low self-esteem. The image that I most often get of their relationships is that of weak and powerless people getting together to try to hold one another up, to try to eke out some elusive positivity from life that is generally dismal.
However my own expectations have generally been quite different! Surely it must be obvious to anyone who truly reads this blog that I like to think of myself as a strong person, and I am also looking for someone who is quite strong too, so that together we can blaze to tremendous heights of power and strength?! So yes, having to think in this way certainly does bring me back down to earth somewhat. By the grace of I do work to be strong and radiant and excellent, and I think that this is a deeply positive thing to aspire after. All the same, I am forced to acknowledge that I will sometimes have to present myself to you in my weaknesses, Mr Huggie-Wuggie, as you will sometimes equally have to present yourself to me. And I am praying that even in that, you will not reject me!
Thinking on this, I’m asking myself: “What is the difference between these times when I fail, or I show myself to be weak, and I expect a potential husband to stick around, and those times when those guys failed, and I walked away? Perhaps it is a humility thing: being willing to accept my mistakes, and when I am wrong, being grateful for seeing the ways in which I drastically fall short, and then making the necessary changes. I also want to make it clear that I am always striving, always wanting to improve. Conversely with these other guys they never seemed to want to concede that they were anything less than perfect. I know that insecurity will have been a large part of that, and to a certain extent I can be sympathetic about that insecurity. However I guess that ultimately the lesson is that if I want you to help me – and I do! – and if I want to stick around – and I do (Mr Huggie-Wuggie!) then using my ego to push you away or to deny your efforts is not the most effective way of accomplishing that. It can require so much vulnerability to invest time, effort and care into someone else’s life – and then if they are pushing you away on top of that, why would anyone persevere?! I know that I would rather take my efforts to someone who appreciates them. So if it needs to be said, if there is indeed someone out there making some precious investments of time, care, and concern into my own life, then I would like you to know that I do genuinely appreciate your efforts and I thank you for not walking away, even when I have demonstrated these least attractive aspects of my own character.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
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