The day I was rebuked
I fear failure. I fear that look in someone’s eyes that says, “you disappoint me.”
I fear the emotional tornado it sends me through as I spin around and around in lies of inadequacy. I fear the feeling of looking over my shoulder to see if judgement is lurking.
But what is fear, truly?
What is happening in those moments- within my heart and within my mind?
I believe the better definition is simply doubt.
1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Back track to a quick story. I’ll never forget the first time I was rebuked. The first time a sin of mine was called out. It was a dear friend of mine, college roommate, later to be a bridesmaid. One Saturday morning we were packing up to go out of town. There was some conversation here and there about strategy and time-frames. I noticed a change in her demeanor towards me. So, I asked what was wrong.
That’s the day I was told that I had a very harsh personality; that often my speech came across defensive and held an “I am right” attitude. My stomach immediately went in to turmoil. My mind started searching every conversation I could think of the prior month trying to dissect and understand what she was referring to. Then my heart started aching for the people that I might have hurt along the way, from this character trait I didn’t recognize.
I fear moments like that. Moments where you feel as though you have failed immeasurably in someone else’s mind.
But I had no reason to fear, and still have no reason to fear. Because what she rebuked? Was dead on. She was right. I started noticing it here and there. I started catching myself. Apologizing in the moment. I was able to reach out to some friends that I worked closely with on projects or events and ask for forgiveness. I was offered a chance to receive grace and give love. I was offered a chance to grow and learn. The best part of this story? I wasn’t even saved yet. I was exploring my faith and figuring out who God was. Yet, it is one of my favorite stories to tell.
Because the fear we have in judgement, in rebuking, in “failure,” is actually the truth that we are sinners. So, it’s not necessarily fear in my eyes, it’s refusing to believe we are in fact sinful, imperfect, flawed people; and therefore doubting the grace, redemption, and love God promises.
It’s the best part of the story because it shows us how innately designed we are as God’s children and how the fall of Adam and Eve is in our blood. We were born in to sin. I may not have been saved at the time of that conversation, but I felt the hurt of sin, I saw the repercussion of sin, and then I got to witness the power of love. How much more do we see it when our hearts have been opened to God Himself?
This story, this truth, gives me hope for two reasons:
It proves the instinctual desire for God in those who do not yet know Him, and it reminds us that God is better. That His strength outruns the bondage of our sin. That His sovereignty turns pain in to boundless joy. We are able to receive rebuking, receive criticism, and accountability because of the grace and love of Jesus. We can look at those instances as opportunities to grow closer to God and mature in our faith. We have the opportunity to praise Him for all that He is, because He is everything we are not.
So, do not fear. He knows our weaknesses. He knows our sin. But He is stronger and has already forgiven us on the cross.
So, take up your own cross, take responsibility for your actions, own up to your sin, and grow, learn and build your faith in Him.
Then take that faith and hold your brothers and sisters accountable. Do not be afraid to rebuke them, as they do you. We cannot walk this life alone and often times we are not aware of a sin in our life. Who knows how long it would have taken for me to realize the way I held my speech. I am thankful for that sister’s boldness every day for giving me the opportunity to repent and move forward.
Let’s not rob others of that same joy. And let’s not fear what God has already taken care of.