As a teenager, I pictured my faith like a china doll on a shelf. I had a pretty spirituality, something to both enjoy and show off. It was helpful and brought me feelings of peace. I was proud of my faith, and perfecting it (which seemed like an attainable goal at the time) was my aim.
But I’ve fallen – and things have fallen on me – quite a few times since then, causing more than just chips in my paint. Whole appendages have been smashed off, the ruffles in my dress are worn smooth, and chinks have broken through my porcelain shell. Strong certainty has been replaced with tentative stepping-out-on-the-water faith. My once-beautiful faith has stumbled around, stepping on toes, impatient and selfish more often helpful or humble. Flaws, much more tenacious than I imagined as a 16 year old, have left permanent marks on my pristine paint. Hurtful events and words – some intentional and some accidental – have tipped me off the shelf to the ground.
But here, in the dirt below, I have found a truer picture of my faith. As the sunlight and rain breaks through the chinks and cracks in my shell, a green sprout grows up from the dirt below – sending shoots up and out.
Perhaps I was not created to be a showpiece, but a vessel. Not a piece of art in myself, but a container for the Creator’s art. The pressure is not on me to fix up my paint or cover up my flaws, but to allow my old life to break open in surrender to the truest life, the fullest life, and the most life-giving life ever to break through my facade.
My faith? Not always pretty. His work? Always beautiful, always good.
I wasn’t meant to be a china doll… I was made to be a vase.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”2 Corinthians 12:9-10