"Erin, you are just not as perfect as I thought you were or as others think you are"- a quote from my college room mate- actually not sure those were the actual words but they are close. This quote has branded into my brain. It is a true statement and has brought wisdom to my life. My roomie was one of the best people God put into my life- an honest, loving, servant of God who strives to take care of people with sincerity and grace. She impacted me more than she will ever know.
As I reflect on my week or even my life I see how this statement is a genuine picture of reality. You see, I was trying my best to be "perfect". Due to the fact that I made many wise choices in high school and said the right things, many parents and students thought me to be a "good kid". And, I was a good kid - if you were looking at my choices and at my desire to live a Godly life and to spend time with God and to reach out to others. Not all of this was negative.
But the truth is that behind closed doors, when those who lived with me could actually see the sinful side of me, they saw that sometimes my intent was not to please God but to please others or to be better than others. What motivated me was not always a better relationship with God but a competitive desire to be better than others around me...to make myself look better. The kind words or "perfect" actions were many time just attempts to lift myself up - not always to glorify God. This is sad, but it is true. It is a reflection of the fact that we are all sinners. As a dear friend mentioned in a Bible study this week, we are all like "filthy rags and our sins sweep us away like the wind".
This year I have heard a lot of instruction from great leaders about the fact that other people's perception is what matters, that it is not about our "intent"- but I struggle with that. I think it is definitely about intent. If our intent is to promote ourselves or our own ideas/agenda, then we are just manipulating people.
My son recently lost a tooth. He received two dollars (I know way more than we ever got when we were little) under his pillow. When I woke up I couldn't wait to see his excitement- but instead he said to me, "mommy, we have sad news! The tooth fairy gave me a yoda but I have already lost it!" After much discussion we realized that he had hidden his two dollars and made up the yoda story in hopes that we would replace the "yoda" that the tooth fairy left- a large manipulation and lie. This saddened me because I realized that my "sweet, sensitive, loving" child really still had sinful intent in his heart- he had spent some time thinking about that story and although it is very funny now, it is a powerful example of how our own desires can hurt other people and keep us from being thankful for the blessings God has already given to us. It is an example of how we allow sin to manipulate our actions. It gets in the way of our testimony of Christ.
I know that my roomie saw through my acts and her words drove me to analyze my "intent". I still struggle with this. I know that the only way for me to overcome the sinful desires of my heart is to stay in the Word and to pursue more time with the Lord...this is difficult in my busy life. I see where because I am out of the Word, that I let my shields down and make many mistakes - saying things I should not say- doing things for the wrong "intent". It is my prayer that God will work on the intent of my heart and then once that is developed that people will "perceive" me as God wants me to be perceived - for His Glory- not mine! For God sees not as man sees...He looks at the HEART! I Samuel 16:7.
I am curious and anxious to see what God can do through us if we care less about the perception of others and more about God's perception!