Thanks to Julie Eby-McKenzie for her Facebook posting of a wonderful talk entitled, “How a Misfit Found Her Voice.” Author Lidia Yuknavitch tells about her difficult journey as she tried to escape the effects of growing up with a father who was physically, sexually and verbally abusive, enabled by her alcoholic mother. Along the way she fell into alcohol and drug abuse, and alternated between unhealthy relationships and social isolation. She used writing as an outlet for her chaotic feelings, telling “the stories of how many times I’ve had to reinvent myself from the ruins of my choices.”*
I love that description of the uphill struggle many people go through as they try to get a hold of who they are and what their purpose in life is, over and over again having to reinvent themselves from the ruins of their choices. Yuknavitch is not a believer. For those of us who are, we see the reinvention as more God’s work than ours.
Paul wrote a letter to the Christians at Ephesus. In chapter 4, he reminded them that “each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (verse 7). However, instead of expressing that grace in their lives, some were acting like “children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind” (verse 14). Others were living “as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds, darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart” (verses 17-18). Some had gone so far that they had “lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity” (verse 19). What a bunch of spiritual misfits!
BUT GOD DID NOT GIVE UP ON THEM! AND, THEREFORE, THEY SHOULD NOT GIVE UP ON THEMSELVES. Paul writes encouraging them to “put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (verses 22-24). Essentially, he’s telling them to rebuild on the ruins of their bad choices and, with God’s help, reinvent themselves.
The call to “be renewed in the spirit of your minds” is very intriguing. Clearly, the work of renewal can only be done by God. Yet, the fact that this is an exhortation, “be renewed,” shows that our will, our initiative, our determination to try again must be part of the process as well.
How have you been doing with the grace God has invested in you? Has your life been marked by some unhealthy patterns that have left their scars? Do you feel like a misfit in the family of God? Well, get busy reinventing yourself from the ruins of your choices. If you make the decision to “be renewed,” God will begin the inner work on the “spirit of your mind” that only he can do. No rebuilding project is too big for him.
— Pastor George
*A review of her memoir, The Chronology of Water, can be read here. It’s not for the squeamish.