On a Sunday Morning many years ago as I got ready for church, I applied my makeup, put on my cross, carefully arranged my clothes and looked at my “dressed-up” self. And, it was at that moment that I realized that what I really wanted to do was to present myself “emotionally naked” to the world.
I did not want to peel off my clothes, but I wanted to peel off the layers of doubt, anxiety, guilt and sin and lay them aside like discarded clothing. But what shocked me most was the fact that after I examined those peeled off layers, I still wore masks. I still wanted to present myself as the world wanted me to be. I felt that it would be too painful to search for the “real me” because the real me wanted to serve God and still be loved by someone as intimately as I wanted to be loved by God.
So, in this deep and painful search, I became aware that it is in the time of crisis, when anxieties about failed plans abound, when relationships are breaking, that we need to seek God more, to make whole our brokenness. So, during this painful search to be naked, I realized that God uses each of us at specific times to prepare others for the journey of life that is ahead.
But, before I could be of use to God, I had to accept myself as God accepted me. I did not choose to be called to preach; God chose me with all of my petty gripes, complaining spirit, confusion and personal trials. Because, if I had known that life would be so hard after I accepted my call, I would have cried out, “It’s going to be too painful, too scary, too difficult…..” But, then I would have remembered that God gives us the power to surrender to His will.
But, surrendering to His will has not been easy. I have let anger at someone else separate me from the love of God. Instead of forgiving them for what I thought was wrong doings on their part to me, I had forgotten that God has forgiven me times too numerous to count. Instead of looking for the positive aspects of my life, I was too focused on everything that was going wrong. But it dawned on me that I was too scared to admit my sins, because I did not want the world to see me as a sinner. I was still hiding my true self. I was still clothed in a falsehood that I presented to the world.
So, what I did was write these paragraphs to reveal a little of my nature to you because I am trusting you with a part of me, to have you bear some of my burdens. Isn’t that what Paul wanted us to do in Galatians 6:2 (Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ). Thank you for bearing.
The Rev. Tonya Boyce is the executive director of Eternal Grace Ministries of Pine Bluff.
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