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Inferior Faith

You, God, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from you. Psalm 69:5 OK, I’m going to say it and nobody but God knows how very much I don’t want to…which is why I must have this “writing therapy” session to get to the heart behind my resistance. Next year, we are removing our children from the private school hundreds hope and try to get their children into (and with the largest and most wonderful children’s library in the country…except apparently there is a recent rival in Boston) and we are going to…homeschool. Yes, I have not worked through my sin issues enough to put that in larger letters. My heart panicked just typing it. I don’t often name the specifics of my struggles on here, not because I want to hide them, but because like Paul’s thorn, the thing itself is really not the issue but my heart’s response to “the thing” is. To name it can often lead into a defense or justification of the thing itself, which would miss what God is wanting to do in my heart (or yours?) altogether. But today, I have to name it for my own heart’s sake.

Why do I feel shame at the mention of this particular decision? It isn’t the fault of the concept of homeschooling because it is just a concept. It is the fault of my heart’s affections, which desire above all else (apparently) not to be assessed by others in anything less than total admiration and even perhaps as Dr. Seuss says, “the winningest winner of all.” I would much rather someone know that my children are at the school that most people can’t get into than that I stay home with them every day and do something unknown. I need to be the winningest winner of all, not the unseen, isolated nobody.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Col. 3:2-3 I have made judgments about the decisions others have made based on standards all my own (of coolness, of competitiveness, of social awareness, of tradition and of opening up future opportunities). God’s kingdom does not need for me to be as cool as I would like to think I am (regardless of validity). For God’s Kingdom to show up on earth as it is in heaven, I don’t have to beat everybody else out or win life’s achievement competitions. God isn’t limited to the use of socially aware individuals and actually seems to prefer the awkward and insecure as objects of love and power. It turns out, too, that GOD is the One who opens up future opportunities and not all my impressive connections (which He provides when needed) and slick resume…which I can’t even find.

Inferiority is something I dread. I feel best, and always have, if I think I am better than others. To be equal to others or (gasping for air) lesser than others…well, what is the point in that?!? And then I see God’s scripting of my story…

It was junior high that first introduced the concept of inferiority-complex to my psyche. In elementary school, I was in the cool group and was (in my mind) beloved by all. I went to school with my hair still wet from the shower and got in heated fights in P.E. over dodge ball and laughed until I cried…and all was right with the world. Then, junior high happened and people wore hair styles, make-up and purses! People gathered in groups to flirt and hung out on weekends without parents and there I stood, with a frizzy permed head (oh yes, it is true and awesome), newly pierced ears and braces. I did not like lunch time because of the limited chairs per table and the anxiety of not having anyone save me a seat. I began saving homework to do at lunch so I would have the excuse to go to the library during lunch to do it. I might have been “better” than the band kids or the debate club, but I was not one of the elite and it made me feel anonymous and like a loser. I have freely given the opinions of others and my perceived image before them the power of a dictator over my heart. I take Satan’s temptation hook, line and sinker to make choices that will protect my image and draw the worship of others to me…even if that worship of me simply looks like not excluding me from the lunch table. Now God is asking me to exclude myself from the lunch table where I finally always have a seat saved for me…at the very school I so longed to really belong in junior high and now finally do as an adult! (He’s a clever writer of stories, isn’t He?)

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Matt. 4:10

Does anyone in the whole wide world care, really, where my children go to school? Is one location for education more holy or righteous than another or on the other hand, remotely capable of thwarting God’s purpose for my children’s future? Of course not. What is happening in my heart is that God is using this vignette to show me how little I really “get” Who He is and what He is about…and therefore who I am and what His creation of me is about. He became less because He knew God’s Kingdom offered more. I say “make me less so that You will be more”, but I put an asterisk by it which down the page notes “as long as by ‘less’ we both mean visibly better than everyone else”. The fact that my image still matters so grippingly to my heart helps me to see how far I have to go in being gripped by His image alone. That I feel so shamed or proud based upon my position before others lets me know I am not yet enjoying the benefit of resting securely and confidently in my position in Him and before Him alone. The inferiority, it turns out, actually describes my own faith in the person and work of Jesus, but He can take even my unbelief and grow it to fullness in His time. He will indeed make Himself more to my heart even as He makes my lesser gods less.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thes. 5:23-24

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