There is an old saying where I’m from that was repeated throughout my early life more times than I can remember: “People DON’T change.” Children who do not see the world in such black and white terms don’t easily believe things like that. Youthful optimism does not allow for such cold “truths” to be too readily adopted. I didn’t believe it – not even when the circumstances surrounding me seemed to only confirm that “truth” for me time and time again. If there is any truth to that old motto it is this: While it is often very difficult for people to change themselves, GOD changes people. This is something that the pastor at my church often refers to as “pruning” – another way of saying that God roots out areas of our lives that need to give way so that we can grow into who we are meant to be. And I truly believe that, but I always like to think of it in more artistic terms…. terms just as clearly defined in the Bible… Potter and Clay…
I can still remember “throwing” pottery in the drafty art studio at my high school in Brooklyn. I remember how much strength was needed once the clay was on the wheel to force it into the desired shape. Some days, I lacked the endurance and ended up with a mess on my hands, literally. I gave up many times dissatisfied and frustrated. Mostly I ended up with a shape far less than perfect. Once a viable shape was formed, it was time to let it dry or cook it in the kiln. As any potter knows, the trick is that if you want to engrave anything into it or if you want to reshape what you have formed in any way, you have to begin at just the right time or else it dries up hard like leather and leaves the potter with a much tougher (if not impossible) task. Time and time again, I let my pottery dry out so much that reshaping or engraving it was nearly impossible. Time and time again I ended up spending hours scraping the sides of some misshapen pot with a shaving tool, desperately trying to grind down the imperfections or cut away mistakes, listening to the ear piercing screeching sound and believing all the while that the form could not be changed. (And sadly sometimes it was the case.)
I think this is how God sometimes feels about us. Only in the case of human beings, it is we who choose to harden. And in the case of God, He doesn’t give up on us. I know this because in every way I was that misshapen pot. Stubborn in my ways, clinging to that old adage and believing what I’d been conditioned to believe about myself and the world, I resigned myself to accepting certain things I never should have. I fell shorter than short (no obvious pun intended). But fortunately for me, the Potter was not as willing to give up on me as I was in that basement art studio. God had a plan for my life and He was willing to scrape away at those rough and flawed layers no matter how long it took and no matter how many ways I had to break before I’d give way.
The process was difficult and I reached some of the lowest places of my life, but God was faithful to repair all my brokenness. And I don’t regret a moment of the repair process -- though I shudder at the thought of ever going through it again (I’m certain I will again to at least some small degree). I remain a work in process. I’m far from beyond “pruning.”
I was reminded of God’s faithfulness in a big way this past week. On August 11, M and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and gave thanks for the amazing work that God did in both our lives over the course of 3 short years.
This month, M and I are also approaching the 2 year anniversary of our baptism together into the body of believers in Christ. I still remember standing there in that water, soaking in all that God had done at that point in my life to bring me out of the pit I dug myself into. Never could I have imagined all that God had in store for me and my husband over the years to come. Big plans.
Just recently, I have begun to overcome the biggest fear I’ve ever harbored. (You may remember, I faced it momentarily once before, years ago.) And everyday for the last week and a half, I have done that which I once swore I would NEVER be able to do. At the ripe old age of 26, I have finally learned to drive. And in just 10 days, I will resign my label as a “city girl” when M and I move into our first home in the suburbs. (A leap of Faith if I ever made one!)
God truly has a sense of humor. He has changed me and my life in so many ways. In spite of my shortcomings, in spite of all the ways I’ve failed to put my trust in Him, He has never let me down. All things have truly worked together for good for me and my little family. And the next time I face trials, which I’m sure I will, I hope I remember my own words… God IS Faithful and He loves us too much to leave us how we are.
His plans are much bigger….