I was quite the trouble maker when I was younger. Who am I kidding? I still like to be a little mischievous. To say, though, that I was trouble would be an understatement. I remember once my mom saying “If your teachers and friends at school knew how you acted at home, do you think they’d like you very much?”
I think often we try to cover up who we are…we try to put on this perfect sheen for others at work, at school, at small group, at church. I would go off to school playing the perfect princess, being a good student and exuberant friend. At home, I was a snot. Plain and simple. I back-talked, I was stubborn, and I colored the walls immediately after my dad painted them. Yes, I took two red crayons to the walls before the paint was even dry from my dad spending hours painting it pristine white. He still doesn’t know about that, so let’s not share cause I am not too old to get popped for it.
I was reminded of how we try to cover up who we have been, what we carry this last week. I carry some hurt from a past relationship around. I don’t like the scars from it, I try to cover them up with sleeves and masks. But they sneak out. In moments. In reactions. I scramble to cover them and reapply the makeup of a composed, perfect life.
You know what I found out? It’s okay to have those. It’s okay if you let people see them. Your past is a part of you, but it doesn’t have to define your now. If you do, it’s a destructive pattern of living that can consume you. The conversations I had to have after I saw my former self come raging back were not easy. They weren’t comfortable. Ultimately I had to choose a life in community with others, others who truly love and care for me far beyond what I could see. Or I had to live a life with scars, walls and hurt defining me.
My pastor, Pete, on Sunday put it so eloquently when he was telling the story of Jacob post-wrestling match with God. Choosing to be real today over being liked isn’t easy but it’s authentic. The biggest takeaway from that passage for me in Genesis 32:24-29 is that God asked what Jacob’s name was afterwards. The all-knowing God knew what his name was, but God wanted Jacob to acknowledge all the past he had been running from in that moment. Jacob did just that, and just as the redeeming God that I love does, He said “No, your name is now Israel.” He gave him a new name….just as He does with me. He brings new mercies each day for me, and for you.
I am not perfect, neither are you. I can stop covering up this self, and instead be authentic. In that, I am alive in Him.