Holiday Mall Shoppers. Notice how they have a knack for getting in your way? They never hit the mall until late November, and walk around like they're tourists. A little bit lost, always on the wrong side of the hall - walking against the traffic, walking EXTREMELY slow, and stopping very suddenly and for no apparent reason, in the middle of the aisle, causing frequent pedestrian pile ups. *sigh*
There really should be some type of orientation for these people. Mall security should stop 'em at the door and go over mall protocol with them so that the rest of us can actually get something done! Its precisely because of these people, I avoid malls during the holidays. I have little patience, of this I am certain. God knows this too. Unfortunately? So he continually allows circumstances in my life to help me acquire a little.
For instance, he gave me a strong willed little toddler, he challenges me to wait on him when I really just want, actually in my addiction to impatience, I need immediate answers. I have a short-temper, little tolerance, frequent occurrences of frustration, unreasonably high expectation for myself and others, occasional moodiness, and did I mention I'm impatient?
I know, this doesn't sound like the model pastor's wife. But not to worry, I keep up "appearances". Its practically a job requirement for a pastor's wife. No one wants to know that you have faults, that you're a regular, imperfect, flesh and blood, mortal person. For goodness sake, if a woman who has a pastor right in her own home can't have a near perfect life, what hope would anyone else have?
I really resent that word, "appearances". In talking with other pastor's wives, it's something that sometimes comes out of the mouths of our husbands. Usually out of frustration, sickness, or any other sign of imperfection, there are times when a pastor's wife just doesn't want to stand smiling next to her husband at "x" event. And shortly after, the word appears in the conversation. Well not necessarily the word, but something alluding to it like, "It won't look good if you're not there." or "You really should be there."
Church. It's too often the place where we dress up, putting on our best faces and clothes for "appearances" sake. Often you hear stories about church leaders with turbulent home lives, and when the news erupts, everyone says "But he seemed so good, so Christian." Ah, the finely designed, apparently perfect masks people can devise in an attempt to appear the ideal Christian.
What is this influence to be perfect, exemplary, ideal Christians? I know many pastors, leaders and church-goers who feel compelled to seem such. We all buy into a set of ideals that are unattainable, if you're human that is. Like trying to reach the stars without a rocket ship, we set ourselves up for failure and feelings of guilt. Some shut themselves off from friendships and fellowships for fear that someone will learn the horrible truth about us: we're flawed.
But here's the good news, and I like how Yancey puts it, ".....imperfection is the prerequisite for grace. Light only gets in through the cracks."
I am not perfect, and I never will be. I need to be like the alcoholic (WHAT?!! you say..stay with me here) who says I am an alcoholic, even when he's not had a drink in years and years. I have to admit that I'm weak to sin and imperfection, despite how good or Christ-like I become. Until we acknowledge and admit that we're all imperfect and ever will be, we won't be able to let go of the stifling masks, and let God's love shine through us. Not because we're good Christians, but because we're repentant Christians who God loves despite our weaknesses.
After all, it's not about us....it's all about God, isn't it? God's unconditional love and grace.
Can you feel it? Can you smell it? Breath in deeply now *SNIIIFF* the sweet aroma of the true gift of Christmas. Now, if I could only remember that every day....