As a kid I thought I understood the definition of holy.
Holy was the priest, dashing droplets of water on our foreheads, incense clanking acrid plumes as he lumbered down the aisle in fluttering vestments. Holy was the bishop, with his curved crosier and towering mitre. And of course holy was the pope, soft-spoken John Paul, hunched shoulders, gentle smile.
The Eucharist was holy, tumbled into the golden chalice and exalted as it was lifted high with outstretched arms above the priest’s head, the altar boy ringing chimes, kneeling on marble steps.
The glittering tabernacle where the Eucharist was kept between Masses was holy, too. I used to think the golden box was God’s house, literally a tiny home where He lived with His diminutive angel helpers.
The altar, covered in a pristine white cloth, was clearly holy as the priest bent low to brush it with his lips.
The church itself was holy – we spoke in hushed voices and genuflected low toward the altar before we sat on the hard pew, holy water gently tricking from the stone basin in the back. I dipped two fingers into cool liquid, dabbed forehead, chest and shoulders before pushing heavy doors and stepping into the hot afternoon glare.
Even as an adult I thought I knew what qualified as holy. Certainly I never considered myself holy; not until very recently, that is, when I read this verse:
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4)
I read the verse again. And then a third time.
Did it say what I thought? I glanced down at the footnotes for guidance and saw that my interpretation might be correct.
“How can this possibly be?” I wondered to myself. “How can I be holy?”
It didn’t seem right.
After all, God was holy. Jesus was holy. The Holy Spirit was obviously holy. Churches, priests, nuns, popes and ministers were holy. Sacraments were holy.
This flawed, broken, wreck of a person? The gossip girl? The impatient mom? The eye-rolling co-worker?
I was decidedly unholy, that much was for sure.I looked at the Ephesians verse again.
There was no avoiding it. God was telling me that I am holy – that He chose me to be holy and blameless in his sight.
This new information feels strange. I feel special, chosen, yet I’m also overwhelmed.
This seems like a lot of pressure, this being holy. Can I live up to it? Am I cut out for the job? So far my behavior hasn’t been exemplary…but that was before I knew I was holy.
“Maybe my attitude will change now?” I wonder.
It’s then I realize that it won’t. My attitude won’t change entirely because I am flawed.
I am fallen.
I am broken.
God chose me to be holy and blameless in his sight – which doesn’t mean I’m actually blameless, but simply that He sees me and loves me that way.
Here’s the catch: God sees me – small, inconsequential, sinful me – as holy, despite my flubs … in spite of my flubs.
God made me in His image. He sees me as His holy creation. And He loves my holy spirit, my holy soul, housed within this broken vessel.
Have you ever thought of yourself as holy? And if so, what does that mean for how you live your daily life?
By Michelle DeRusha, Graceful
ABOUT MICHELLE DERUSHA
Michelle folds SpongeBob briefs, works for Nebraska PBS and NPR and writes at Graceful about finding (and keeping) faith in the everyday....