One of my favorite children's books is a story by the title 'Teddy's Button' about a little boy who comes to realize that, of all the enemies he will have to face in his life, the biggest opponent he will ever face is himself. I can relate to this story as I, too, have found my biggest enemy to be the enemy within: self. And while I am pretty good at putting on a good face for others and deceiving them into thinking I am kind and good and loving, the person I am best at deceiving, is myself. I am so good at justifying my actions or fooling myself in believing that my motives are pure. Yep, I know just what to say to myself to be convincing. But there is One who is never deceived for He sees my heart.
"People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7b
"People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines the motives." Proverbs 16:2
But God is a God of mercy and unconditional love and He desires something so much better for me than this selfish ugliness. He also knows how very helpless I am to change myself and so He gives me His grace to change me from the inside out. He ever so gently reveals my heart to me in those ugly areas of my life that He desires to change. And the funny thing is, sometimes He uses the craziest things to show me.
I would imagine that practically everyone in the world knows what Facebook is by now. I certainly do as anyone of my Facebook friends will tell you! Ha ha - they know of my complete addiction to the site! I really do love it, though it is not always the best thing for me and my family because of the time it consumes. Nevertheless, I love it anyhow, and really, for so many great reasons. I have built some very incredible friendships with some very special people that I really didn't know very well before Facebook. I have also been able to keep in better touch with family and friends that I have not really been around for years. I keep in better touch with dear friends as well. And last, but not least, well...probably not even last as I am sure there are other reasons I am not thinking about right now, I get a chance to share my love of Jesus with others that I would not otherwise have opportunity to do in the midst of housecleaning, laundry, making meals and educating my children. But lately, God has been showing me another valuable use for Facebook that I had not really thought of. You see, one of the ways I have deceived myself about the condition of my heart is that I thought I did not have any unforgiveness or grudges in my heart towards anyone. Well, as I said, God is so very faithful to pull me out of that muck and mire, called sin, in my life. If you are not familiar with Facebook, on the main page there is a continual display along the side bar of people you may know that you can ask to be your Facebook friend. This list is compiled based on people who are friends with other people you are friends with. Confused yet? Yeah, me too! Anyways, one day God brought a certain person to mind that I had seen on my sidebar many, many times. He said to me,
"Mandi, you know this person, why won't you request them as a friend?"
"Um, well Lord, I guess it is because I don't really like this person."
"Why, Mandi, do you not like this person? I like this person, in fact, I love her, she is my beautiful creation."
"Because she did something once that humiliated me, Lord."
God used this to show me that in spite of what I thought, I do, in fact, have unforgiveness in my heart. He reminded me that He sent His beloved son to die for ugly and mean and hateful things I had done, not to mention lies I had told, people I had slandered, and the endless list of others sins I had done that deserved the penalty of death. He asked me how I, having been forgiven of so much, could not forgive such a little thing done once so long ago? I had no good answer and so I asked Him to help me let go of the resentment and bitterness I held towards that person, and He did. Since then God has continued to use Facebok to reveal many, many ugly sins in my heart towards other people, people that I was not loving like He desired. People I would not ask as to be my friend because I think they are weird or somehow beneath me. People's status updates that brought out self-righteousness and/or critical condemnation. People that I begrudgingly accepted friend requests from. Compromises I was willing to make for certain people's good opinion of me. A prideful heart that thought it had lessons to teach others. Oh how the list goes on and on. I can't tell you how thankful I am for the heart conditions that God is revealing in me through Facebook. While they were at first kind of painful and not something I wanted to admit to, I now see the freedom that comes as God removes the weight of those sins from my shoulders. You see, I just didn't realize how heavy these things were to carry until they were lifted off my shoulders. I also didn't realize how awesome it was going to feel to start really loving people and seeing the incredible beauty in each and every person God has made. God is truly opening my eyes to see people through His eyes. And oh how wonderful is the view from His eyes!!
"Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all His benefits,
Who forgives all your iniquity,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
Who satifies you with good,
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding is steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will He keep His anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His steadfast love towards those who fear Him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does He remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust."