I don't like being misunderstood. If someone makes an assumption about the motives of my words or actions without taking the time to clarify- I get very frustrated. Why is this?
Well, come on- isn't it bad enough to have someone think poorly of me when I'm actually at fault? So in those moments when I really am trying to be upright, or selfless- I feel very protective or defensive if anyone calls that into question. And it can be really silly things sometimes...for instance, let's say that while at the park I whip out my last juice box and chug away while my children sit their looking sad and thirsty. And suppose that some other mom sees me and her jaw drops- clearly in shocked disapproval. But say I was only drinking the juice because my blood sugar was low and I might otherwise keel over (OK, or perhaps encounter some less dramatic fate). I would desperately want that other mom to know that I was not trying to win selfish-sadistic mother-of-the-year.
But then- really- why is that so troubling? Why is it ever so troubling? Why does it get under my skin so much that I don't feel like I can rest until my good nature is revealed- until the other person at LEAST understands where I am coming from? So what if I become known as the juice-aholic jerk mom?
I know that really it all comes down to putting too much weight in what other people think of me. Because at the end of the day, whether anyone else thinks badly of me doesn't change the truth about me. Honestly, a lot of times I employ impression management in public so people think I'm BETTER than I really am- a little bit more patient with my kids, a little bit more put together than I actually am- whatever it may be. But whether it's a high opinion or a low one- neither changes what I really am. Who I really am. What anyone thinks of me in a given moment is just a snapshot of me- and seen from a distance- often through a distorted lens...maybe like this.
I struggle so much with this, but ultimately the state of my heart can only be accurately judged by God. He sees past the pretense to the raw. And honestly that thought should thoroughly chill me- because even my best motives are flawed, even my most perfect moments fall short of perfection...oh and then there's the real ugly stuff that keeps popping up again and again because I just can't kill it apparently.
And it is always more unnerving to feel judged by someone who seems superior to me in any way. (Right? If I'm caught yelling at my kids in front of the patient supermom who never raises her voice above the whisper of a caterpillar, isn't that worse than being in the same situation with the efficient but ever-shouting drill sergeant mom?) So, shouldn't I be terrified that the only one who knows the whole me is also the only one who is perfect- true- and holy?
Yes. I should be. Except I believe that even though God knows the state of my heart, at the end of the day He sees me as pure as Jesus Himself. Because in accepting God I'm accepting this:
"3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God"
Hebrews 10: 14
14 "because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy."
4 "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved."
Because I've chosen to follow Jesus- I believe that somehow God sees the perfection of Jesus when He looks at me. And I am so incredibly humbled to know this- that though I'm a mess I'm hidden with Christ- as though my mess is so far buried in Christ's holiness that it cannot be seen. And as a result, it doesn't matter how I appear- the perception of me. It doesn't matter what I THINK anyone else THINKS of me. I know how God sees me. And that is all that matters.
(I also found an amazing audio message by Timothy Keller that deals with some of this. Feel free to check it out here: http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/blessed-self-forgetfulness )