Are You Living On The Surface?

For many years, I lived what I call the "surface life." I call it that because everything I did was surface. I was so wounded, my heart was so stained, that I just couldn't bear the thought of more damage being done. So, my remedy was keeping most doors to my heart shut up really tight. I didn't allow myself deep, authentic relationships. I didn't allow myself to speak much truth because I didn't want the reaction that might come with that. I didn't allow myself to reflect to much on the past because it would have felt like I was ripping a band-aid off an infected wound. So, I lived a surface life.

As most of you know, that all changed a few years back. The fact is, the infection started growing inside, and it was just getting harder and harder to not feel it. Symptoms were becoming harder to hide, and it was getting harder to fake it. There is a scripture in Psalms fifty-one that says,

Create in me a clean heart, O, God. 

Truth is, I wasn't begging God to do this. No, I was avoiding it, actually. My cry was more like, "Just leave me alone!" Grace was not my song, nor unconditional love. I served him with my actions, doing my best to leave my heart out of it. Praise Jesus, though, for his unending friendship and grace! He never gives up on us, friends. He placed me on a path that left me uncomfortable with surface living. All of a sudden, actions weren't enough, words weren't enough...

my religion wasn't enough. 

To have my heart cleaned, I had to let go of the surface living, the false pretense. I had to open all the doors that were closed in my heart...and yes...I had to rip that band-aid right off of that wound so my Savior could work on it. I find myself, now, in a place of needing constant repair. I realize now, that as long as I walk this earth, there will always be repairs to be made, wounds to be healed...a heart to be recreated. I love that God is a God of creation. He is always creating and recreating. He wipes away every stain, every bit of grime on my heart, creating something new in its place. 

There is so much more life available to us, then we sometimes allow ourselves to embrace. Today, I do cry out for a clean heart. I no longer fear what he will find behind closed door number one or two or three. I believe that he has grace for everything he will find. Oh, it's still not easy. Everything he digs up leaves me having to make some kind of change in my life. It is hard, but the miracle is that there is freedom in walking the harder road. When I walked the road of disguise, there was no rest, no joy, no peace. Now that pretense is gone, now that the disguise has been removed, it's just me...nothing more, nothing less...and that's as it should be. 

I talk to God a lot more, now. It's not just an act of prayer or worship anymore. I ask him questions, tell him what's on my mind, ask his forgiveness when I see fault in myself. I didn't do that before. Before, I was always talking, telling God what I was going to do to make him happy...never giving him a moment to speak. I listen now, more than ever. We talk, because I'm no longer afraid of what I will hear. I've come to trust his voice, feel security and acceptance in it instead of fear. I'm not afraid to ask him to recreate my heart, to make it new...because I know he will not run from my dirt and stains...he will never run from them. 

I've also slowed down...a lot. I used to keep myself very busy for two reasons. One, so I would feel fulfilled because I thought my worth was wrapped up in my performance and two, because I didn't want to deal with what I might think or hear in the quiet moments. There is no peace in the quiet if we are not willing to be reflective, to see our true selves. When I lived in a constant state of denial, I had to keep myself moving, keep myself busy to avoid the reality. There is an epidemic of busyness among us. I believe fear is a big factor in that. Filling our days with stuff, trying to find a place of peace outside of our hearts, when that peace can only come from within. We fear that if we look inside, what we will see will be impossible and unbearable...and God will turn away. 

But He won't.

Are you living on the surface to avoid facing God? Are you afraid of what you will see if you look inside? Do you fill your days with empty ritual to try and make yourself clean? I get it, my friend. I really do get it. Sometimes, the dirt just seems to be piled sky high. Sometimes the stains look like coffee on a white shirt. Sometimes it just looks impossible...

It's not impossible though, this cry from the Psalmist for a clean heart. It's only impossible when we fill our lives with ceremony, with surface living. It is the honest surrender of our dirty, stained, marked up hearts, that makes this possible. The only way to a clean heart is by simply giving him the entirety of my dirty one. He takes the stains and dirt of our lives and makes them pure, clean, as beautiful as a perfect painting. He can create a clean heart within us. When we deny the road of surface living, when we come to him, he makes the impossible mess of our hearts completely possible. He creates and recreates until we are clean...completely clean. 

"Create in me a clean heart O, God..." 


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