Adam and I have recently joined the most ridiculously awesome-beyond-words couples small group.
And tonight at small group we were talking about Character.
One of the questions asked something to the effect of "On a scale of 1-5 how much do you think you have grown in your character this year?"
Yikes. What a question.
And, as I reflected on this question throughout the week and again during our discussion tonight this is what I realized:
Being engaged is exposing. This past year, God has exposed my heart. Like a surgeon. He has opened me up and shown me areas of myself that I never knew that I never knew. And a lot of them were very, well, messy. And often ugly. And also, hidden. Hidden really deep in places that I'd never really had to deal with before now.
You see, God is preparing my heart to marry Adam. To become one with another human being. To unite in soul and purpose with another imperfect person. And what I didn't realize was just how contrary this is to the idea that is deeply rooted in each of us--that we are individual beings, with individual agendas, needs, desires, goals, you name it. And marriage, it tests our character by challenging this idea.
As I thought and prayed over the forbidding question of whether I have grown in my character this year, I got confused because there were two conflicting realities going through my head:
On the one hand, I felt like this year has been a year where I've seen God work and nudge and prune me to an extent that I have NEVER been pruned before. And it's made me healthier, grown me. It has begun to purify some of the ickiness.
And yet, on the other hand, I feel like I've never been so aware of my own depravity and of my inability to exemplify Christ's Character in my life.
And here was my conclusion: I have grown in character this year.
At a cost of course. It's hurt. It's been convicting, humbling, frustrating, and painful at times. After all, being laid bare, exposed, and corrected is not easy (as fun as it sounds). God breaks us sometimes to build us back up into a more holy version of who we were. It's called sanctification--being transformed by the power of God, to be more like God, all of course, for the glory of God.
As I pulled out of small group tonight with a new gratitude in my heart for the character of God and His willingness to extend that character to me, I heard this song on the radio. And it described the only place where I could have been this year:
"At the cross you beckon me. You draw me gently to my knees, and I am lost for words, so lost in love, I'm sweetly broken, wholly surrendered."
Sweetly broken. Wholly surrendered.
If we are to grow in character. To really resemble God's character. To bear fruit. We will most likely get broken.
When our response is a surrendered heart,
Our hands are open, releasing our pride and selfishness to the One who has already redeemed and saved us from these very vices,
We grow. We start to look more like our Maker. And He is glorified.