As I pulled into the parking space, I noticed my husband tilting his head toward the window. I knew what he was doing. He was looking at my parking job — and judging it. Silently. So I asked him, “What are you looking at?”
Smart man that he is, he said, “Nothing.”
We climbed out of the car, and I told him that I knew exactly what he was looking at, that I’d told him I wouldn’t be able to park an SUV, that I was never going to get any better, that’s just how it was. Then I looked at my Kia sitting firmly between the lines of the parking lot and exclaimed, “And look! It’s not even that bad! I mean . . . it’s been worse. I mean . . . I’m just saying . . . if you’re expecting me to turn into some parking genius, you are going to be disappointed.”
Mark just laughed. And so did I, and we walked into church.
No matter how hard I try, I really cannot park my small SUV straight inside a parking space. It’s too big and too curved for my eyes and brain and hands to make that happen. I’ve tried. I’ve failed. And I’m cool with that. When it comes to parking my car, I’m like Popeye. I yam what I yam.
An inability to park is not really a spiritual issue (even in the church parking lot) and, unless I’m in one of those super annoying parking lots with tiny spaces and way too many big trucks, it’s not likely to cause me much actual distress. But as I was laughing to myself about my rant about my [lack of] parking skills, I started thinking about how often I pull a Popeye about other parts of my life.
Nearly every week my pastor says that God loves us no matter where we are in life — but He loves us too much to leave us there. While that’s not technically the mission statement or tagline of my church, I do believe it encompasses our culture of accepting all kinds of people — including those who might not feel or actually be welcome at other churches — but continuing to encourage them to move forward in their faith journeys.
I’m so grateful for both, the Truth about God and the culture of my church, because I’m one of those people. Behind my mask of “Fine! How are you?” and “Good morning!” and serving and smiling and selling a devoted follower face that simply isn’t always me, I’m not where I need to be and desperately grateful God loves me here anyway.
But when it comes to the part where He loves me too much to leave me there, in my sin and struggle and pain? Man, that part really stinks sometimes!
When I hear a message or a song or a still, small Voice telling me, “This. This is what you need to hear. This is where you need to grow (or move or change or let go or jump in),” my initial reaction is to stick my fingers in my ears and sing, “lalalala!” until it all fades away.
After all, I yam what I yam! This is the way God made me! This is just my personality. Or my parents’ fault. Or SOMETHING. But I can’t possibly change it now.
Then the worship band strikes up one of my favorite songs in their current playlist. And I can’t help but sing along as the tears roll down my face again.
And I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You change me from the inside
And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home
Never let these walls down
But you have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I will go where you will lead me, Lord
Yep. That is it right there. I could be safe, content with a quiet faith in pastel shades of grace and love and mercy. I could hold on to the faith that’s grown in fits and starts over the years and settle into a groove of knowing what I believe and never questioning, serving when it’s convenient and never stretching, giving when I can and never sacrificing, hearing the Word but not doing much about it at all.
Or . . . I could let God love me out of this place He finds me today. I could confess that my quirks might not be cute and my so-called personality might actually be a problem. Because who I really am? That person is the one God created and knows intimately and loves beyond measure. And who I really am is not the sin or struggles that feel offended by a good message or moving worship. Who I really am is a child of God — and He loves me too much to leave me “the way I yam.”
I don’t have to be stuck in struggle or sin. I’m not sentenced to a life following the whims of personality or circumstances. This isn’t just who I am, and I don’t have to be “who I yam.” I can be who God designed me to be. I can grow and move and jump out of the place He finds me each day.
I just have to take my fingers out of my ears and listen.
Have you ever said you can’t change something about yourself? That it’s just part of who you are? Is there anything God is prompting you to give to Him, to let Him heal or change or remove?
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