Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The clothes I'm going to wear

Declaration 6 [part I]:   The new creation that I am wears gentleness and kindness every day.

I will admit that in my frazzled, distracted, striving existence, and despite numerous nightmares to the contrary, I have yet to leave the house without pants on.  Thank goodness.  Though for those of you who know me, you know that there are days when this is a feat in and of itself.  However, if I am honest I cannot count the number of days I’ve run out the door naked.
Spiritually naked.  My forgiveness coat slung over my comfy chair beside my Bible, where I’ll remember it after I’ve dug deep into the Word.  My gentleness chemise hanging on the back of the bathroom door, where I’ll no doubt put it on after a nice shower.  My kindness kilt hanging in my closet, ready for when I put my best foot forward as my public persona, and present by best self to non-family people.  And my foundation garments of love, the ones that keep me from *ahem* spilling out all over the place, lying in a rumpled pile beside my bed because I just didn’t have time to put them on in the morning rush.   

As comedic [and hopefully not horrifying] of a metaphor as the above is, I’m employing it to remind myself of how absolutely important it is for me to purposefully put each of these traits on every. single. day.  Before I leave the sanctity of my bedroom and face any member of the human race.
The crux of grace, the thesis of the gospel, the reason I can open my eyes each morning.  Giving what’s been given to me.  Letting go of the proprietary right to vengeance, because God has canceled my debt to Him through the blood of His one and only Son.  Releasing the right to retribution for the wrongs inflicted upon me, just as God has removed the wrongs I’ve inflicted upon Him.  Saying, “I forgive you,” to those who have hurt/offended/actually wronged me, when possible, and meaning it.  Even if I have to say it again [mentally to remind myself] every day thereafter.  Because forgiveness isn’t a feeling; it’s an active choice.

That attitude and behavior which turns away wrath, or at the very least won’t escalate the situation.  It’s the next logical step after forgiveness: “I forgive you for how you’re treating me.  I can answer you calmly.”  Or “I see your pain, through the cruelty in your words.  And I can respond with peace.”  It is the realization that every other breathing human (save the One) is sinful, and will at times fail, and is therefore in need of grace,  Just like me.  And I should treat them as such.

The mode of being which calls forth the best in others, which author Robert Louis Stevenson called the essence of love.  On the surface it sounds like gentleness.  But I think it goes deeper.  Gentleness is responsive.  Kindness is proactive.  Kindness notices the unique in each person, the thing about them that makes them completely different from every other person to walk this planet.  And kindness rejoices in that, with that person, for that person, and about that person.  It seeks out the good in others; the Imago Dei in those flesh-bound souls who were created with the greatest good in mind, by the only source possible: a perfect, holy, and Almighty God. 

The greatest of all virtues; the godliest of all emotions, attitudes, and behaviors.  Love is the foundation for all virtues in the preceding list.  It is the aim of humanity, the pinnacle of spirituality, the reality of Divinity.  God is Love.  Love gives and gives and gives; and when it seems impossible to give any more, Love sacrifices itself on behalf of the object of its adoration.  For those clothed in temporal flesh, love is dying to the will of self, and living for the benefit of another.     

I have to daily recognize that if I don’t purpose to choose and apply each of these traits to my spirit, just as I walk into my closet to select and put on clothes every morning, I will face the world as me.  Fleshly, worldly, sinful me.  The me that reflects none of Christ, none of the gospel, none of God’s image into this world in such aching need.
And that has me leaving the house as an uncovered, hopeless, aimless wanderer, who is just this side of nihilism.  Thus for my sake, as well as the sake of everyone with whom I come into contact, I promise to clothe myself daily with these traits, which are befitting a person of my station – a daughter of the King of Kings. 


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