On Tuesday I turned 55. It’s somewhat of a milestone birthday because in many places, I’m considered to be a senior. Me, a senior! That’s a tough one to swallow. But actually, I’m okay with turning 55 because like my son said, it’s just a number.
This year, to my surprise, my birthday came early. At church last Sunday I was called up front by the ladies of our congregation. They were celebrating and honoring me. It was an unexpected blessing along with a very generous gift.
As a pastor’s wife, one of the areas I serve is in women’s ministries. It’s another extension of serving Christ but just among the women. And we have the most amazing group of women. These ladies are completely committed to Jesus. They are striving, fighting and pursuing a deeper relationship with their Savior on all levels, and it shows. There’s no fluff. They are fiercely committed to following Christ. And I get to call each one of them friend.
But as I stood in front of our church with all eyes on me, a flood of uncontrollable emotion was stirring. Here I was, surrounded by these beautiful, Godly, strong women who were pouring into me and loving me for being their “strong, devoted leader” and I felt a bit uneasy, somewhat uncomfortable. They were blessing and elevating me to underserving levels and I knew it.
I felt like a fraud. A fake. Who is this person they are speaking of? She sounds so good and righteous; someone I certainly don’t recognize.
Every effort to keep it together was lost. As hard as I tried to fight them back, the tears came. And then came more, uncontrollably, like a flood.
Clearly these ladies don’t know me. They aren’t as familiar with me as I am. The reflection I see in the mirror is someone different than the girl they are describing.
And they have no clue of the week I had. They don’t know that I had fought with my husband for three days refusing to posture a Proverbs 31 heart of humility. They don’t know that I ran into someone who I just couldn’t extend grace towards. Someone who was once a friend but also someone who had hurt me so deep. I thought I dealt with that wound. But upon seeing her, I easily allowed the pain to resurface and reignite the bitterness I thought I’d left behind. They don’t know that.
They don’t know I can be stubborn and prideful. They don’t know I chose running over praying and escaped in mindless nonsense. They don’t know I haven’t slept because I am surrounded by anxious thoughts and fears. I’m unable to rest in the very peace I preach. They don’t know every word I pen is towards myself. It is obvious they just don’t know me. They clearly don’t see the messiness of me. They are celebrating and honoring someone I often don’t like. It was overwhelming and difficult. But then, I remembered……..
I am in a Sunday school class before church. We are studying Ephesians. Three weeks into it and we are still in the first 14 verses. I love it. Ephesians is about the privileges of being a follower of Jesus. One of them is the fact that I am chosen. 40 years of this walk and I’m finally coming to understand exactly what this means.
I don’t know how many times I’ve read these passages but as I was reviewing them this past Sunday, it finally hit home. Through the holy unblemished lens of God, I have been chosen. The best version of me is no better than the worst version of me. It doesn’t matter. My flawed heart, my broken dreams, my messy life, none of that matters because I’ve been chosen.
Nothing about me is deserving. Nothing about me warrants the Father’s choosing of me. I’m fractured in all areas. I’m blemished and bruised. I rise, and then sometimes I fall. I succeed and then fail. I let bitterness go, and then grab onto it again, and again. And yet none of that changes the fact that He, Jesus Christ has chose me.
The beauty of being chosen is I am not tethered to good or bad days. I am not defined by my yesterdays. The labels others may put on me run contrary to who He says I am. When the reflection is less than I want it to be it doesn’t change the fact that I have been chosen.
I stand by grace and grace alone. Every day His grace pours over me and I can marinate in His mercy. I see the fingerprints of the Father stripping me down and building me back up. The girl standing on that stage last Sunday is a girl in process. Those ladies get that.
This entire sanctification process is hard and painful. It’s this stripping away of the of ugliness of flesh and reshaping me into the image of my Savior. I’m far from done.
I will never be deserving of the kind of celebration I received last Sunday. That’s just one of God’s many mercies towards me. He surrounded me with many beautiful women who seem to get that and love me anyway. They are walking with me towards completion.
I’m definitely not where I want to be but I’m far from where I was. And with each new day of grace and mercy, I take one more step away from Candy and step into Christ. And somehow, and in some strange way, 55 seems to look so much better on me than 35 ever did.
Thank you RPAC ladies. You blessed me immensely.