I once thought to myself: Where is my shell? I am beginning to feel naked without it.
I then responded to that same thought: Good, that’s the point.
Until recently, I have had an imaginary shell. It wasn’t a big shell and it wasn’t a small one but it had numerous layers. I thought this shell had many benefits but in all actuality it only kept myself and others from getting to know my true self. This might sound crazy but it is true. I never thought I would reach a point where I would honestly say that I do not know my true self, my true personality. Growing up I was very outgoing, talkative, and enthusiastic about EVERYTHING. I always hear stories from family and friends about how I would always take up for others and how I wanted to be involved in anything that allowed me to be on a stage.When I entered a room, everyone knew it but as I got older things began to gradually change.
To my surprise, just a couple of months ago things REALLY began to shift. The layers began to fall off. I don’t believe it is a coincidence that things began to change right around the time I began to truly offer my body to Christ as a living sacrifice. As I am being stripped down from my old nature I am also being built up as a spiritual temple for the Holy Spirit: 1 Peter 2:5. I found myself being shy around new people, easily embarrassed, and passive aggressive. At first I didn’t know how to react in certain situations because I was exhibiting the characterises of people I once made fun of. I used to say that I never understood how people could be shy and that NOTHING could embarrass me. But let me tell you, my favorite places are somewhere that I can be with a small group of family and friends or on the floor where I can just sit and especially in the back of a classroom—basically out-of-the-way.I went from being flirtatious to stuttering when a guy asked me my name. The boldness I used to have was used to maintain a spirit of control when I should have really been asking for Holy Ghost boldness so that I could break ties with old “friends.” I went from being a night person to preferring to be up at 9 a.m. and sleep by 12 a.m. I don’t like being out at 3-5 in the morning anymore because those are what I call “trouble hours.” I no longer like to be the center of attention and I am definitely a work in progress when it comes to addressing large crowds. I began to panic because I saw myself becoming a new person and I didn’t sign up for that…or did I?
When I asked the Lord to enter my life and to mold me into the person He wanted me to be, I at that moment and time signed up to become a new person. This new person was going to be a new creature in Christ. The next time I read 2 Corinthains 5:17 (NIV) “Therefore,if anyone is in Christ,he is a new creation; the old has gone,the new has come!” the words came alive to me. The exact same change mentioned in this verse was happening to me before my very eyes. When I signed the papers and gave them to God, He began working on me before the ink had even dried. Christ said that His yoke is easy and light and I was entangled in the miry muck of the world: Matthew 11:30. I was helpless and the Lord came to my rescue to plant my feet on dry ground. People continuously ask me where has the person who entered a room and wanted everyone to know had gone? I can only respond that the person left before I had even noticed.
I found the following verses comforting during the beginning stages of my transformation.
Psalm 25:4-7 (NIV)
4 Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
6 Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, LORD, are good.
As I become more sensitive to His Spirit I am also becoming more sensitive to the world around me. The people I once shook my head at in disappointment, I now have compassion for. The struggle of crucifying my flesh is teaching me that it truly is a fight. If Christ is compassionate then why aren’t we? If Christ is long-suffering and gracious then who are we to be stiff and inflexible? I also find myself concerned about the true well-being of others. The removal of my shell has allowed me to hear the Lord more clearly than ever before. It took many years for new layers to form around my imaginary shell but it took one Word from the Lord to demolish every single last one. I found that at the core there was an issue-an issue with love. I wasn’t sure what love was, how it felt, how to receive it and more importantly, how to give it. I often viewed love to be fuzzy with hugs and kisses intertwined with sweet words. Now this may be how one expresses love but the love the Lord has shared with me runs so much deeper. After years of physical and emotional abuse I began to even question if love was real. I often thought that if love was real then why am I the only person who has yet to identify it. My perception of love was all wrong. True love comes from God because God IS love and yes imaginary shells definitely create blockage when it comes to us being able to receive the love God has for us. I now realize that I have more love than I will ever be able to consume. For one, God continued to wake me up each morning when I was still His enemy. James 4:4 and Romans 5:10 elaborate on this.I don’t take the phrase being His enemy lightly because it says a lot. While we are serving the devil we are certainly God’s enemy but He still sent His only begotten Son so that we may live through Him.-1 John 4:9 (NIV). How many of us would do that for our enemies?
- James 4:4 (NIV) “You adulterous people,don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
- Romans 5:10 (NIV) “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!“
Aside from personality and emotions, I imagined that this imaginary shell kept my sins hidden. So it wasn’t a surprise when this layer was the FIRST to go. God doesn’t try to embarrass us but He will bring exposure to “closet sins” so that we can come to Him and repent. The removal of this imaginary shell made me face my sins-for what they REALLY are, sins. There was no sugar-coating involved nor was there an imaginary shell to sweep them under. The truth had been exposed. The sins were so exposed that even with a carnal mind I knew creating an excuse wasn’t an option. It was now time to renew and cleanse my mind as stated in Romans 12:2 (NIV): “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good,pleasing and perfect will.“
I thank God for His help because knowing our fallen nature I would have tried to hide under that shell forever.I would have had a more difficult time drawing nigh to God and finding out His will for my life. We must keep in mind that old baggage has to drop off as we travel from glory to glory in the Lord. Be encouraged. This process may not be exactly the same for each person but if Christ has truly entered your life-expect change.
- James 4:8 (NIV): “Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.“