Glorifying God by Being Myself

If you’re like me, you’ve probably struggled at some point (or still struggle) with what it means to be the person you are, with reconciling yourself to unwanted character traits, and with discerning which bits are good and beautiful and to be celebrated and which bits were better suppressed.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably struggled at some point (or still struggle) with what it means to be the person you are, with reconciling yourself to unwanted character traits, and with discerning which bits are good and beautiful and to be celebrated and which bits were better suppressed. I’m encouraged in this by remembering that God is a God who delighted to create a diversity in everything he made–from the insects to the stars–and that I can glorify Him most by living my life beautifully back to Him as the person He made me to be. That doesn’t mean I can justify my sin by saying “That’s just who I am.” It does relieve me from the pressure of trying to fit a mold I was never created to fit. It frees me to spend my time enjoying doing things not many others are doing and enjoying (like reading and writing poetry–ha!) and pursue whatever godly passions I have. It also frees me to embrace people who are very different from myself, thanking God for their very different sort of beauty.

Thanks to songwriter Audrey Assad for pointing me to this poem by one of my favorite authors, Gerard Manley Hopkins, who beautifully expresses this idea.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Here’s the song “For Love of You” where Audrey talks about how this poem impacted her in a spoken intro:

A Car-Cleaning Angel

I’ve gotta admit I tensed up a bit when I saw him walking toward me. I don’t live in the best neighborhood, and I feel kind of vulnerable with my car running, my door unlocked and nothing but a snow brush in my hand.

13snowy car.JPG

I’ve gotta admit I tensed up a bit when I saw him walking toward me. I don’t live in the best neighborhood, and I feel kind of vulnerable with my car running, my door unlocked and nothing but a snow brush in my hand.

“How you like this snow?” he asks, watching me swipe my brush over the trunk of the car.
“It’s pretty,” I say, smiling a little, telling myself no need to worry.
“Now this is how you do it,” he informs me, spreading his arms across the roof of my car, using his body to sideswipe my windows and doors.
“Wow, thanks!” I’m laughing now at this guy I don’t even know getting himself completely covered in snow for me.
“Hey, look,” he ribs me, “I’m all done and you’re still working on your side.” He’s got snow all down his coat, down the front of his shirt where his coat hangs open.
“Thanks,” I say again, speechless but smiling. He waves good-naturedly and wanders off toward the local liquor store.

Sometimes God tells me He loves me in funny ways. Like sending a car-cleaning angel my way.

You Are Too

He was standing by the inner library door when I came in, a funny mixture of boyish eagerness and innocence on his adult face. “Go ahead, young lady,” he said, pulling the inner door open for me.

He was standing by the inner library door when I came in, a funny mixture of boyish eagerness and innocence on his adult face. “Go ahead, young lady,” he said, pulling the inner door open for me.

“Oh, just a minute,” I answered, dumping my returns in the dropbox, happy from the autumn wind outside and my walk downtown.

13old man.jpg

“Thanks,” I said, taking his gift of an open door with airy confidence.

“You’re beautiful,” he mumbled pleasantly as I passed, and for a minute, my knee-jerk reaction kicked in, and I brushed on by, not willing to meet his eye, seeking the inner sanctuary of the library and the anonymity of hidden rows. My creep sensors were on red-alert and flight was the key option.

I made my decision in about a millisecond, and a millisecond later I regretted it. He’s not a creep, my heart said. He’s a man whose simplicity lacks a filter. I had been beautiful, I thought, for a little while—the day had made me so and bright thoughts running up toward God and back from Him had made me so—but in that one millisecond I felt suddenly ugly.

What if I had looked that man in the eye, smiled, and received his gift? What if I had let him beautify me by his blessing, as God’s wind and colors had also gifted me with beauty this day? What if I finally understood that my beauty (such as it is!) is not a gift for me to enjoy, but for those around me? What if I had said, “You are too,” and returned the blessing on his head?