Even as we are known, we remain unknown. One of my closest friends told me this week what a good person I am. She was in tears as she said it, and I am humbled beyond belief, but I am also horrified, because I know what I am on the inside. I know how I rebel on the inside, I know how I resist helping someone, how incredibly selfish and self-centered I am. This I know. I am not a good person. I am a sinner. I see improvement, but it is so small and has taken so long, and the more improvement I make, the greater I see my need, my sinfulness.
How deep does my rebellion go? How great my pride? How overwhelming my sinfulness?
If there be any good in me, it is the image and likeness of God, it is the Holy Spirit allowing Christ to shine through this wicked vessel. This is why we cry, “Lord have mercy!” For I know I am a sinner in need of a savior, and that the good I should do, that I do not do, and the things I don’t want to do, that is what I do. I fight this battle within me. It is a battle few see. Praise God there are victories, for my losses are great.
If there be any good in me, it is not me, but God who rules within me. I find myself wondering, how is it that my friend does not see the inner battle and walk away in horror and disgust? She displays to me the grace and mercy that I so appreciate, that is such a balm to my heart when I feel so filled with failure I can barely stand.
The things I find challenging are things that were simply dealt with in my ancestors. One of them, upon losing her husband and a child, as he managed to save one child from drowning, but lost his own life and was unable to save the other, left her with eight children to raise. She did this by selling homemade sausage on the streets of Seattle, saving until she bought and ran a lumber mill. This is all before welfare, before food stamps, before job programs or social security. She did this on her own. One can only imagine that she worked from before sun-up to late at night, to feed and clothe her family. I work eight hours and go to school at night and feel overwhelmed at times, unable to do it. I have no children at home, no clothes to sew or mend, I do little of the cooking, have no garden to tend. When I think of her, I have to stop my self-pity.
But this is an aside, as I keep thinking about how I can be so well known and yet be unknown at the same time. Are we all the same way? Known and unknown?