I tried growing a beard one time. Tried.
Let me just say, I’m not sure what kind of genes kept me from sprouting a full on beard, but I suspect it’s the 1/16 Native American that all of us Oklahomans claim to have in us. And it’s not like I’m all peach fuzzy or anything. I’ve been shaving since I was eleven years old. I was shaving every single day of the week by the time I was in middle school. But the beard on my face was a bit…spotty…a bit…blotchy.
I kept with it. I grew that thing all during No-Shave-November. I kept going all the way through the middle of December when my wife said, “I know what you can get me for a Christmas present: shave your face.”
So, my beard was a failed project. I’m not a “beard guy.” That’s genetic proof that I’m not a hipster, in my opinion. Good enough for me. I can wear my skinny tie with pride now knowing that I’m not a hipster. And like most failed projects, my beard taught me a few things – like who my real friends are (those that told me I looked ridiculous) and that a beard can get stuck in the zipper of my coat (ouch!).
I used to feel like a failed project a lot of times. I felt like the scattered whiskers on someone else’s face. I felt started and stopped, like I was doomed to a cycle of try – fail – repeat.
About a year ago I hit a wall. I realized that I couldn’t keep going if I really thought of myself that way. So, I got real deep down inside of myself and took a look around at some of the dark corners of my life, places where I hadn’t been in a while and had closed off and stopped thinking about. I found shame. I was ashamed of who I was.
And then I talked to God about it. Know what? He told me he wasn’t ashamed of me. He told me he was happy with who I was, even in the dark corners. He told me that I wasn’t a failed project, but that I was a fully formed, whole individual.
There’s an old song that says, “God’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be.” That’s song is fine, as long as we understand that God’s never finished with us. He’s such a perfect builder, but he never stops building our lives. That tells me one thing: He doesn’t think of us as a project or a check on his To-Do list. He thinks of us as individual people whom he loves. We don’t have to achieve anything in order for him to love us.
God doesn’t view us as a means to an end – we are the end. He doesn’t view us as a prospect or a project. We are the product of his great love.
The process of growth in our lives involves us being honest about what’s wrong with us. But so often the process gets stalled and we’re left focusing on what’s wrong without any movement towards what’s good. We need a little boost, a slight shove into the goodness that we all contain as image-bearers of God. I hope I can be that boost or shove for people, because I can remember vividly many times in my life how I needed it.
Do you need a boost today, to remind you that you aren’t a project or prospect but a person? Who can you help shove back towards the goodness inside of them?