Well, the first week of my senior year of college has come and gone. And, as I’m sure so many other people would agree, the fact that the school year has begun is a strange one. Personally, I’m a bit overwhelmed. I feel like there are so many things that I need to do, so many things that I should do, so many things that I want to do. It’s the constant reminder that “this is the end” and that I won’t have opportunities like this again–I’ve got to make the most of it. But you see, for someone like me, that’s very very hard. Naturally, I’m drawn to saying “no” to nothing, and “yes” to everything, because that’s how I define things, how I too often define myself: by what I do.
If you know me, you know that I’m a generally outgoing person. You’ll find me either laughing, being louder than I probably should, talking incessantly about whatever is on my brain, and letting everyone know how good I feel after a a solid visit to the lou. (TMI? Oh, well. You can’t deny how much better you feel after having pooped.) Usually, when describing me, friends and acquaintances generally use words/phrases like “confident” and “having it all together.” I often hear, “Jayna, you know so many people!” Or, “Jayna, you’re so popular!”
And you know what? That’s EXACTLY what I want y’all to think because that’s exactly how I’m acting. The truth is, for my entire life, I have tried so desperately and so hard to be nothing short of perfect. I want to be seen as strong. I want to be viewed as confident. I crave being known by so many people. Just about everything I do is out of the desire to gain approval and affirmation from any and everyone around me. Do I care what people think of me? HECK YA! (I’ve blogged about this before, but at the time I don’t think I truly realized how deep this issue was. I thought that being aware of this was almost all that I needed, it’s not).
You see, I’m not perfect. In fact, I’m far from it. I’m completely imperfect. And I don’t mean that I’m imperfect in the sense that when I try and fail I can attribute my lack of success to the fact that I have flaws because everyone does. No, it’s much deeper than that. The very fiber and fabric of who I am is depraved, broken, and dirty. But you see, that’s not okay with me. In fact, I actually hate the fact that I’m not perfect. In that vein, because of how much I desperately want to be what I cannot be, I try and try and try and attempt to earn, and earn, and earn EVERYTHING.
Why is this? Well, it’s because I have a complete misunderstanding of grace.
So, here I am. Hi, I’m Jayna Duckenfield and I’m imperfectly imperfect. I absolutely do NOT have it all together or figured out.
At the first RUF Large Group (the campus ministry I attend) of the semester, my campus minister said, “I know some of y’all in here came tonight thinking that God expects so much out of you. But can I tell you that God expects the least out of you of anyone?” This hit me hard. For the entirety of my life there has been an agenda set for me. One that I built and one that certain people around me have established. But what I realized in that moment at RUF was that The Lord has never set such a bar for me, Jayna Duckenfield: imperfect. He has never had such an agenda waiting for my imperfection to shine through so that I’ll fail. Instead, what He chose to do was die for me. He died because I’m so filthy that all of my “valiant” efforts are not enough. But when Christ died and rose again, by His amazing grace I’m now adopted into His perfection. HIS, not mine. So the agenda that the Lord has for me now isn’t really an agenda at all. It’s a gift. It’s a gift that I get to continually unwrap. It’s a gift that I get each and everyday.
But again, I don’t like that. I don’t like the fact that I continually need God’s grace. I want a one and done type of deal. I want to receive it once, put it on a shelf, and just refer to it when I feel like I should. Why? Because while God’s grace is simultaneously refreshing and freeing it’s also extremely offensive and sharp. God’s grace stops me. It won’t allow me to try. It won’t allow me to earn. It won’t allow me to be perfect. If I could try, and earn, and act perfectly I wouldn’t need it. And that’s my problem, I’m living like I don’t need God’s grace. But remember, even though God’s grace hurts, it heals. What it’s hurting is the flesh, the very opposite of grace and it’s also the healing it as well to sanctify it and make it beautiful.
And that’s hard. It’s hard for me to reconcile God’s grace and my actions. I mean, I can’t. They’re not meant to be reconciled, they’re not meant to work together. Galatians talks specifically about how the Spirit and the flesh are constantly in conflict with one another, how they want contrary things (5:17). And y’all, my flesh is fighting SO hard against the spirit. I want so badly to earn God’s love, to earn His grace. I want more than anything for my actions to be what gets me into Heaven, I desire deeply for the way that I live to be what make me a good person. It’s true, y’all. Deep down, I don’t want God’s grace. But that’s the beautiful thing about it, even though I don’t want it, even though I don’t want Him, He still wants me. He wants me broken, messed up, battered, imperfect. Because it’s not about me, it’s about Him.
I’m learning. It’s a hard lesson, because it’s one that I don’t want to learn. But how comforting it is to know that I’ve been chosen by a God that refuses to give up on Me.
So again, here I am. Hi, I’m Jayna Duckenfield. I’m imperfect, but I am so loved and cherished by a God who is.
[Lord, Thank You for Your grace. Thank You for the fact that it’s not depleted or lessened by my misunderstanding and rejection.]