Take any characteristic about a person. It can be his or her strength. It can be his or her weakness.
Take any characteristics about yourself. They can be your strength. They can be your weakness.
- “She’s tenacious.” “She doesn’t know when to give up.”
- “He speaks his mind.” “He’s too opinionated.”
- “She’s nice and quiet.” “She’s not a contributor to the team.”
- “He’s so funny.” “He isn’t serious enough.”
I do believe there are advantages to aging, and one of the advantages I’m discovering is the realization to admit to myself (and others) that I will always be a paradox. I am wonky. A mixed bag. Sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but never 100% together.
- I shout to others, “Offer grace!” And then I justify to myself when I’m judgmental of someone.
- I cry, “I trust you, God.” And then I wonder when I will feel as if my family can ever catch an earthly break again.
- I truly want what’s best for others. And then I roll my eyes when someone I feel is undeserving does well.
A paradox. The good, the bad, and the ugly all rolled up into one dumpster-fire/well-meaning human being. And this isn’t something where I can say, “Well … that’s the way I used to be, but now, now I’m different.” Nope! This is me today. Now. As you read this blog.
God knew this about us. In the book of 1 Kings, Chapter 10, God’s word tells of the splendor and paradox of Solomon. It talks about Solomon’s great wisdom, riches, and all the wonderful things he does for the nation of Israel. Then, Chapter 11 begins with these telling words:
“King Solomon, however, loved many women.” Scripture goes on to tell how Solomon’s love of many women wasn’t such a good thing. Evidently, despite all of his wisdom and success, women were Solomon’s downfall. They were his “however.”
We flit and float around this world posting only the beautiful, wonderful things about our lives on social media, but the truth is we all have our “howevers.”
I frequently tell my 5th grade students, “When you don’t have an assignment completed to turn in just be straight-up honest about it. Don’t give me the extended version story. ‘Well, you see, Mrs. Jagger, my family has been really busy lately and well, my brother moved my homework folder, and my mom forgot to remind me, and it isn’t really my fault.’“
One day in my math class, a young man was absolutely refreshing. He looked me in the eyes and said, “Mrs. Jagger, I’m owning it. I straight up left my math paper on my kitchen counter. I will turn it in tomorrow and it will be a day late. I’m sorry. That’s my fault.”
What if we as believers in Jesus started doing that?
What if we said, “The truth is, I love the Lord, and I’m a red hot mess I don’t have it all together. If you are looking to me to always get it right, you will only see that most of the time, I get it wrong. I’m sorry. That’s my fault.”
I think that would be more refreshing and real and helpful than social media posts, political campaigns, or bumper stickers. I think that would further the kingdom of God more than podcasts, preaching sermons, or bible verses tacked on our walls.
We are all like Solomon. We are a “however.” God knows that about us and He still loves us. So maybe we can start admitting it to ourselves (and others) and being more authentic, as chances are once somebody knows you are a “however” too, they might be able to relate.
Until the next Wednesday the Lord allows.