When We Face Ourselves

Embracing transparency does not come naturally. But when we have the courage to face ourselves, we become open to God's transformation.

When We Face Ourselves

May 14, 2020

Real transformation requires real honesty. If you want to move forward — get real with yourself.– Bryant McGill

A recurring dream haunts me. A nightmare, really. The setting of the dream varies, but the theme remains the same.

Sometimes in these dreams I see myself as a confident college student. Suddenly, another student reminds me our final exam will start in a few short minutes. The problem? I don’t remember enrolling for the class.

Sometimes I exude confidence as a young professional, thriving in my career. Until someone reminds me of the due date of my project. The problem? I don’t remember the assignment. In some dreams I don’t even remember the company demanding the project.

In each scenario I panic. Because I have no memory of the class or the work project, they caught me unprepared and vulnerable to failure. Soon everyone will see what I try so hard to hide: my inadequacies. 

Generally I wake up from these dreams sweating. Although I know these nightmares do not define my reality, they do reveal a deep-seated fear of exposing my raw, imperfect self to others.

Perhaps this explains why one man’s story in the New Testament resonates with me: 

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. (Mark 3:1-5 NIV)

In this passage, Jesus favored God’s mercy and compassion over the legalistic rituals of the Pharisees. This vital lesson of how legalism can blind us to grace cannot be denied. 

However, I don’t want to miss the lesson taught by this one man, which can so easily be swallowed up by the larger lesson of grace overcoming legalism.

In today’s terms, a shriveled hand could mean a hand rendered useless by paralysis or atrophy. While such a handicap would create difficulties in today’s society, a shriveled hand in Jesus’ time meant an inability to provide for himself or his family. This man most likely depended on the charity of others.

Because the Pharisees actively persecuted Jesus, some believe they planted the man at the synagogue, as a trap. Others believe he simply came to listen to Jesus teach.

Since the Scriptures do not say, we can only speculate. None of the gospels record this man asking Jesus for a healing, so I personally believe he had no ulterior motives.

In fact, Jesus initiated the healing by asking the man to stand up in front of everyone. This meant Jesus, His disciples, the Pharisees, and all the people gathered to hear the message. 

Then came the words which lie at the heart of my nightmares. Jesus asked the man to stretch out his deformed, flawed and imperfect hand-for all to see.

I can’t help but wonder how this man felt. Most of us try to conceal or compensate for our weaknesses. In my human nature, I do everything possible to avoid exposing them.

But without a word, the man obeyed. And because of his obedience, he experienced a miraculous healing. 

I may work hard to hide my shortcomings, but Jesus always sees them. This man’s story reminds me of an important truth: change begins when we face our inadequacies and imperfections

Transparency can be scary. But it also opens the path for healing and growth. 

When we embrace transparency, He enacts transformation.

Wherever our roads take us, I pray we can remain transparent with the One who lovingly leads us.

When We Face Ourselves

May 14, 2020

Embracing transparency does not come naturally. But when we have the courage to face ourselves, we become open to God's transformation.

Real transformation requires real honesty. If you want to move forward — get real with yourself.– Bryant McGill

A recurring dream haunts me. A nightmare, really. The setting of the dream varies, but the theme remains the same.

Sometimes in these dreams I see myself as a confident college student. Suddenly, another student reminds me our final exam will start in a few short minutes. The problem? I don’t remember enrolling for the class.

Sometimes I exude confidence as a young professional, thriving in my career. Until someone reminds me of the due date of my project. The problem? I don’t remember the assignment. In some dreams I don’t even remember the company demanding the project.

In each scenario I panic. Because I have no memory of the class or the work project, they caught me unprepared and vulnerable to failure. Soon everyone will see what I try so hard to hide: my inadequacies. 

Generally I wake up from these dreams sweating. Although I know these nightmares do not define my reality, they do reveal a deep-seated fear of exposing my raw, imperfect self to others.

Perhaps this explains why one man’s story in the New Testament resonates with me: 

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. (Mark 3:1-5 NIV)

In this passage, Jesus favored God’s mercy and compassion over the legalistic rituals of the Pharisees. This vital lesson of how legalism can blind us to grace cannot be denied. 

However, I don’t want to miss the lesson taught by this one man, which can so easily be swallowed up by the larger lesson of grace overcoming legalism.

In today’s terms, a shriveled hand could mean a hand rendered useless by paralysis or atrophy. While such a handicap would create difficulties in today’s society, a shriveled hand in Jesus’ time meant an inability to provide for himself or his family. This man most likely depended on the charity of others.

Because the Pharisees actively persecuted Jesus, some believe they planted the man at the synagogue, as a trap. Others believe he simply came to listen to Jesus teach.

Since the Scriptures do not say, we can only speculate. None of the gospels record this man asking Jesus for a healing, so I personally believe he had no ulterior motives.

In fact, Jesus initiated the healing by asking the man to stand up in front of everyone. This meant Jesus, His disciples, the Pharisees, and all the people gathered to hear the message. 

Then came the words which lie at the heart of my nightmares. Jesus asked the man to stretch out his deformed, flawed and imperfect hand-for all to see.

I can’t help but wonder how this man felt. Most of us try to conceal or compensate for our weaknesses. In my human nature, I do everything possible to avoid exposing them.

But without a word, the man obeyed. And because of his obedience, he experienced a miraculous healing. 

I may work hard to hide my shortcomings, but Jesus always sees them. This man’s story reminds me of an important truth: change begins when we face our inadequacies and imperfections

Transparency can be scary. But it also opens the path for healing and growth. 

When we embrace transparency, He enacts transformation.

Wherever our roads take us, I pray we can remain transparent with the One who lovingly leads us.

2 Comments

  1. Mysty on May 18, 2020 at 4:51 AM

    The all knowing eyes of Jesus is freeing! The whole concept of “putting yourself out there” as a new writer is very difficult for me……too many doubts prevail.
    This post hepls me face what’s under the surface. Thank you, Shirley, for sharing 🙂

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on May 18, 2020 at 5:29 AM

      Thank you, Mysty, for your heart-felt response. It is scary, but as you said, so freeing at the same time. I can relate to those doubts! But taking those steps toward vulnerability can lead to incredible blessings. I’m praying for you as you continue your writing journey!💕

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