The Ugliness Inside Me

I hate it when they see the ugliness inside of me.

I hate it when I see it, too. I hate it when I feel it.

They: My family. They see it more than anyone else. My husband. He gets the brunt of it; my kids to a lesser extent, perhaps because they don’t understand it as clearly. It is my selfishness, my careless words used as barbs, my defenses that counterattack the moment they feel threatened. It lashes out and it wounds, and it is full of darkness.

I am so sorry. Please forgive me. Again.

Pencil sketch of two-sided face, one smiling and one ugly and snarling

It is ugly.

But. BUT.

I’m so grateful it isn’t the only me.

That ugliness? It’s what Paul called my “old self” (Romans 6) and it’s the part of me that was ruled by sin. The part of me that was crucified with Christ (6:6) when I was born again into God’s family (John 3:5-7). That’s the good news, folks. That old self? I will be free of it someday.

Yes, I still have human limitations. Yes, I still give in to the ugly part of me more often than I would like to admit, much more often than I wish I did. But I’m so grateful for the new self that God is growing in me, because yes, that is there too. And thanks to God’s grace, mercy, and sanctification, that is the me that will prevail. The me that loves God, is thankful for his forgiveness, and longs to do his will, his work, and glorify him with my life. To do as Paul urges us to in Romans 6:13:

… offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.

April, Au Naturel

One of my favorite things to do is to get out into God’s creation, go for a long walk or hike, and take my camera along. I was able to do that today for the first time this year and thought I’d share some of my favorite photos from today. I’m not a professional, but I thoroughly enjoy using my camera.

This first one is different from the rest, but I am just in love with it—a beaver’s dam. It was just picturesque.

It’s different from the photos I normally take because I don’t do many landscapes. For some reason—perhaps stemming from my love of antiques—I like to take pictures of old, broken down remnants of the past or close-up photos of nature (even dead nature), like in the series of photos below. (And if anyone knows what the item in this first photo was at one point, I’d love to know!)

I was also working on another challenge from Jenny Randle’s Courageous Creative (I mentioned it in yesterday’s blog, too), this time to take a photo representing 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Honestly, I didn’t find anything on this particular trail that just struck me as the this is it image I had to capture, but I did appreciate being able to think about what that would be—for me, perhaps a mushroom (growing out of the decay of something old—and because for some reason I am obsessed with taking pictures of them, although I know nothing about them and don’t eat them); a caterpillar’s cocoon or a butterfly; etc. The closest I got was this, a photo of the same plant with both an old, dead limb and new growth:

But I chose this one to put the verse on instead—an old tree limb with fresh moss, and in the unfocused background a vibrant, green plant: new growth:

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

I think both of these depict us—Christians, believers in and followers of Jesus—as we are in this world: the dead part is still there, still visible, still a very real part of our lives. But the new growth is also evident and it is the part of us that is alive, vibrant.

Hunting for just the right photo made me think of how we must die to ourselves to truly follow Christ (Matt. 16:24-25), and all around me was dead vegetation that was giving way to new life, or trees that were reawakening after the sleep of winter, the shedding of their old, dead leaves. In Christians, this is the sanctification process—and I am so grateful that God strips away what is old and dead and gives us this new life, makes (and is making) us more alive than ever before.