I once met a marginally famous author. The experience was underwhelming and unimpressive. This person had a great online persona—they had best-selling books, wrote engaging articles, interacted with readers and maintained a great digital presence. But the truth is, they weren’t a great person. They were arrogant and off-putting.
This person was great at Facebook, not at life.
That experience was a turning point for me. It left me upset and uncertain. Until that point, this person was a sort-of avatar of the person I wanted to become—the guy on Facebook who wrote engaging articles, interacted with readers and maintained a great presence. In fact, I thought that was my mission—my purpose. But after our meeting, I knew that I never wanted to be that guy. That dream was simply a selfish desire wrapped in the nobility of good intentions.
A few years have passed since then, a few years of shedding the persona and discovering the person underneath. The process has required me to wrestle with deeply personal things and make some big decisions. But to become who God’s created you to be, you have to completely let go of everything you’re not, and sometimes that’s a lot harder than it seems.
Taking Safety Margins
Four years ago, I was diagnosed with spreading malignant melanoma. In order to remove the cancer cells, the doctor performed a procedure to remove the tumor. But in addition to the tumor, the doctor took safety margins to ensure that every cell was extracted. That’s precisely why a small, millimeter-sized cancer left a four-inch scar.
And that’s exactly what it takes.
We often resist God’s work in our lives—the work to remove the spiritual cancers of fear, pride, impatience or unworthiness. It’s a lot easier to keep our vices under control than to completely eradicate them. But that’s not how God works. He loves us enough to extract every single cell of something that has the potential to kill us.
Like a meticulous surgeon, He goes to work. Our wrestling and resistance only causes the process to take longer and it leaves us with a much larger scar.
This year marks four years of being cancer free. I’m grateful for that. But the process of spiritual growth continues. That used to be discouraging. I used to get frustrated when I’d stumble and I resisted correction. But I’m learning that every stumble and every correction is God tearing out the stuff that’s keeping me from being fully me.
True freedom requires us to go deeper than the surface.
Remodeling Your House
My parents recently remodeled their kitchen. Instead of hiring a contractor and moving out, they did the majority of the work themselves. For a few months, they lived in a project they couldn’t escape. Walls were torn out, there was no kitchen sink and the microwave and refrigerator were in the garage.
It was a difficult and all-consuming project, but it provided a great picture.
We are all living in a house that’s constantly being remodeled. God’s tearing out the old rusted sink and removing the walls of pride. The work is hard and some days, we feel like we’d rather live with the ugly cabinets. But you and I both know that’s not what we really want.
If we are to be His dwelling place, He’s going to build a house worth living in.
Better to be patient with the painful process of remodeling than live in a house that’s less than it should be.