Heart Surgery is Painful...

I left church yesterday feeling a bit sore in the heart. I think my pastor performed some tricky heart surgery on me from the stage. No lasers or scalpels, but just as real I think. We have a little tagline at our church, "Liars, Dreamers, Misfits welcome."

The idea being that we are all in need of and under RENOVATION...of our desires, our hearts, and minds. Just about anyone could agree that most people in the world could use some renovation of the soul. Just look around at the atrocities, genocides, fighting, and obsessions with things such as Britney's panty-status. But all along, I've had trouble with the "Liar" status. I don't like to count myself among the liars of the world. A tribe of people like politicians (all of them...I'm not pointing at any parties here), used-car salesmen, and crooked CEO's. People who lie and don't think twice about it. "That's not me!" I think. "I will happily join the dreamers and misfits, but I don't like to be called a 'liar'." But, I saw the value of being honest as a church...that maybe SOME PEOPLE in our group would be in that designation, and that was fine. ("Hello, Pride. Meet Shelley. Oh, you already know one another? You hang out a lot? How nice.")

But, as was revealed during my surgery, we all live in a stew of lies. We all listen to lies and adjust our lives around them...lies that purport the meaning of greater success...financially, physically, emotionally...if you buy this lipstick, you will look sexier...if you drive this car, folks will envy you...if you hide this part of your personality, you will be more successful at your job...the list could well be a long page on my blog. But think of your own lies. Really, when all is quiet and still. What are you "listening" to that shapes your actions, purchases, and words?

I spent a lot of years trying to show the world a perfected version of myself (or should I say mymess?). Perfect clothes, grades, hair, lipstick, jokes, CHRISTIANITY, etc. I thought I was a poster-girl in a lot of ways. I measured myself by the bad things I didn't do, instead of really investing in good things I could do for others. My world was so much about me, I wasn't even a REAL person. I was a plastic version of a Shelley. In rare moments when I allowed Him, God would attempt to break through, to show me my heart in all its ugliness...to show me Himself and what He could do with it.

My heart has been breaking now continually for about 12 years. A painful process when you look at the mess you are. The lack of love and compassion you really have for others...how little time you've made for things besides getting/gaining/entertaining. Hopefully, each time He breaks my heart, some of the ugly leaks out...some of the selfishness and pride that have shaped who I like to think I am. I have lied to myself over the years about who I am. I have made myself look better than I am. Certainly, this process is life-long, as God squeezes out the sin and glues our hearts back together with His gifts of patience, mercy, compassion, joy, long-suffering, gentleness, and the like.

I am a liar. A liar who is under renovation. I lie to myself and others every time I don't allow God to shape my thoughts and my self-worth. I lie to myself when I wear busyness like a merit badge. I lie to you whenever I appear to have anything to offer beyond what God has given me to share, whenever I embellish stories so that you'll think more of me.

I long to be honest and transparent. Erasing all the lies in our lives is darn near impossible when you really think of the layers of lies we are told and that we buy into. But we can live under renovation, and not in denial.

Maybe I'll buy the LIARS t-shirt now. But then, I might get prideful about how honest I'm being. Surely God laughs at us in the midst of our mess. Then He patiently goes about fashioning the pieces of our hearts with His fancy glue. Thanks, Lord!!

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