Beautiful Portraits of Myself

Woman Painting

Last Tuesday, I had not one, not two, but three hard conversations. They were all unrelated, but I would have been foolish to think it was by a mere coincidence. The details are unimportant, but what is important is I was confronted by friends about various ways I had hurt them. I crawled in bed that night honestly just wanting to disappear.

I had three options. I could hide and wallow in my shame of ‘never being good enough’, ‘always screwing up’, ‘being a terrible person’ , etc. I could blame my friends and make lists of their flaws, sins, and inconsistencies. Or I could accept correction graciously, ask for forgiveness, and ponder how the confrontations could refine my character.

Despite my usual M.O. to wallow in shame, I chose option #3: grace. forgiveness. refinement.

The hardest part for me was I felt exposed. My pride tore through my canvas of humility. My weakness seemed to stain my image of strength. And my selfishness roared it’s ugly head and shredded my “good Christian” visage. Have you ever felt exposed?

Listen to this beautiful passage:

“Christians who remain in hiding continue to live the lie. We deny the reality of our sin. In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of a healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others. We cling to our bad feelings and beat ourselves up about the past when what we should do is let it go. As Bonhoeffer said, guilt is an idol. But when we dare to live as forgiven men and women, we join the wounded healers and draw closer to Jesus.”

–Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child 

This passage elicits both sadness and joy. I spend countless hours painting a beautiful portraits of myself, in essence hiding my weaknesses and disguising my wounds. I hate shortcomings. I hate imperfection. I despise not having it all together. But I am reminded again, that grace and healing are found through the vulnerability of people who have been fractured and heartbroken by life. If I never hurt people, struggled with selfishness, or said things I didn’t mean–I wouldn’t need Jesus.

It’s humbling, yet freeing to again embrace the reality that in Love’s service, only wounded soldier’s can serve. I’m chosen for this journey, not because I’m smart, talented, or accomplished, but because I’m broken and desperately need a Savior.  My cracks break through the painted surface and awaken my spirit to that which God has called me to do: limp alongside broken women towards healing. And along the way, tear up this portrait of myself and allow men and women around me to see my wounds and flaws and call me into deeper relationship.

Have you experienced a time when you felt exposed? How is God’s truth different from what feels ‘normal’? 

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Comments
11 Responses to “Beautiful Portraits of Myself”
  1. Heather says:

    Ruthie…I read your post in tears…I literally had just gotten through berating myself yet again for not being good enough. Overwhelmed with my failures and imperfections. Wishing so desperately, like you said, that I “had it together.” I compare myself to others far too often and I never measure up. Your post was a gift from the Lord and it made me soul so light. It’s so true–exposing our weaknesses is GOOD and comes from God! When someone exposes a weakness, it gives me the courage to do the same instead of continue with the ridiculous charade that I am somehow more “together” than I really am. Your words were an amazing balm for my soul.

    P.S. You were wrong about one thing – you are EXTREMELY smart, talented, and accomplished and I’m proud to know you. :)

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Heather,

      Thanks for sharing. Wow. I love when my ‘posts come at the perfect time’–because it’s only by God’s leading. You are smart, talented and accomplished, too! Look at that beautiful boy you are raising. It’s so easy to focus on our failures, instead of rejoicing that when we are weak, He is strong.

      Anyone else relate?

  2. Paul says:

    When we are young, we all have ME issues and are surrounded by parents, friends, teachers and those of influence. We learn, struggle and eventually become and I. Even when we know who we are, life is always giving us tests to grow, learn and become stronger. This isn’t always easy…but is worth the pain and reality checks. At some point…if we learn and grow, we have a comfort net…which always surrounds.

  3. L says:

    It is always so hard to admit when I’ve messed up. And yet as a Christian I shouldn’t expect any different! We talk about being sinners and needing God’s grace, yet hate for others to see evidence of our brokenness. The moments when I have squirmed my way through a ‘sorry’ have been so beautifully reconciling though and always worth the initial discomfort.

  4. Edward Lin says:

    It is wonderfully freeing to not feel the need to defend ourselves and be perfect. To look to God to serve as our righteousness and admit we do not always have it together. Paintings cracked with such imperfections illustrate a greater portrait of meekness and reveals God to be the painter and us the subject rather than the other way around.

  5. Rae says:

    The analogy of portraits… This really spoke to my heart. I have some harsh personality traits that rear their ugly heads when I am going through something rough or experiencing intense personal growth. Recently, I’ve experienced similar confrontations and options to wallow. It is SO encouraging to see another sister in Christ share her experience. Mad props for refusing to take the bait of the enemy and choosing instead to positively apply these experiences! I know I’ve been blessed by your willingness to share and, undoubtedly, so have many other believers.

    One thing I really derived from this blog is a new application of Matthew 6;33 – seeking Him first, nothing else matters, and it’s all up to Him to make things align! We just do what He said to do, and everything else will fall in line. We aren’t perfect – how freeing! His strength is made perfect in our weakness, after all. (2 Cor 12:9)

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Rae. I challenge you to continue pressing into community and allow God to work. It’s painful to be refined, but always worth it in the end.

  6. Danelle says:

    A constant battle in my life. I wane back and forth from the extreme of “i’ll never be as ________ as her/him.” and “I’m so much better than her/him.” pride and shame on both ends. Oh the freedom when we face our sinfulness dead on and look up to the only perfect One. Thank you for this post, Ruthie.

  7. L says:

    It is always so hard to admit when I’ve messed up. And yet as a Christian I shouldn’t expect any different! We talk about being sinners and needing God’s grace, yet hate for others to see evidence of our brokenness. The moments when I have squirmed my way through a ‘sorry’ have been so beautifully reconciling though and always worth the initial discomfort

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