Bending Steel

I took a blacksmithing class a couple nights ago.

Tony, our instructor, handed us each a steel rod about eight inches long.

“In the next two hours,” he said, “we are going to turn this shapeless piece of metal into a beautiful piece of art.”

We put our fireproof gloves and safety goggles on and Tony led us to the furnace.

Steel, it turns out, is not all that malleable. It doesn’t bend easily – even under tremendous weight. That’s why they use it to build bridges and skyscrapers.

But, when immersed in a white-hot fire, the steel begins, almost imperceptibly, to soften.

We plunged our rods into the burning coals and waited. Once they were glowing red, we took them to our anvils and began hammering and bending them into something else – something new.

I only had a few seconds to work before the steel cooled and it needed to, once again, return to the fire. It felt like a long time before there was any noticeable progress. But, little by little, it began to change shape.

As I pounded at the stubborn metal, I thought about the stubbornness of my heart. I thought about how unbending I can be. I thought about how, sometimes, the only way for God to mold and shape me is to allow me to be immersed in fire.

By the end, the steel was almost unrecognizable. The old useless gray rod had been worked into a piece of artistic twists and elegant curves.

You can see the finished product here. It is nothing to boast about, but if I – a complete novice – could draw any beauty out of a piece of steel, imagine what God could draw out of a heart of steel.

He doesn’t always soften us by fire. He doesn’t only mold and shape us in midst of the flames.

But, when He does, I don’t want to resist. I want to take the fire when it comes.

I want to be softened.

God, soften me.

The Day After Perfect

So, here we are.

A full week into the New Year.

Studies show that, by this point, a quarter of us have already given up on our resolutions. By February, only one in five will still be standing and, by the end of the year, less than one in ten.

Why are we so bad at keeping the commitments we make to ourselves? Why am I so bad at it?

Well, for any number of reasons, I suppose.

Maybe I set unrealistic goals and quickly get discouraged.

Maybe I didn’t properly prepare and quickly feel lost.

Maybe it’s because of what Jon Acuff calls the “day after perfect.”

The “day after perfect” is the day after you fall short – the day after you cheat on your diet or skip a workout or spend more than your budget allows.

I don’t know about you, but, for me, “day after perfect” is usually the day after I get started. I’m always in that quarter of people who fall a week in.

And, usually, I stay down.

That's because I'm after perfection - not progress.

You'd think I would have learned by now.

When I pursue perfection, I'm inevitably disappointed. I give up and, in the end, make no progress whatever.

The cycle ends now.

Here’s to committing to get back up and keep moving forward the “day after perfect.”

Here’s to thinking differently about how we keep our resolutions.

Here’s to progress.

 

Resolutions

There is an old Jewish story about a rabbi named Zusia.

One day Zusia came to his disciples. His eyes were red and swollen from crying and his face was pale.

“Rabbi,” one of his disciples exclaimed. “What is the matter?”

“I was thinking about death,” said Zusia. “I was thinking about what it would be like to stand before Almighty God. I realized that if God asks me, ‘Zusia, why weren’t you a leader like Moses?’ I would say, ‘Lord, you did not give me the leadership of Moses.’ If God asks me, ‘Zusia, why weren’t you a poet like David?’ I would say, ‘Lord, you did not give me the eloquence of David.’ But, if God asks me, ‘Zusia, why weren’t you Zusia? Why weren’t you all that I created you to be?’ I will have no answer for Him.”

Resolutions are so often about creating ourselves. They're about creating a stronger body or a slimmer waist, a larger bank account or a smaller debt to pay, to stop smoking or to start reading.

There's nothing wrong with those sort of resolutions.

But, what if, this year, instead of resolving to create ourselves we resolved to discover what God created us to be?

What if you took, perhaps, the first step towards Him and began considering what a relationship with Him could mean for your life?

What if you asked Him to show you where your character needs developing that you might better represent and reflect Him?

What if you began exploring how He could use your unique personality and gifts and passions to impact the world?

Let's resolve that a year from now we will be more of what God created us to be.

I can think of no better resolution.

The Day After Christmas

Christmas is over.

 The gifts have all been opened.

The Christmas cookies have all been eaten.

The Christmas movies have been shelved and the Christmas songs have been silenced.

But, Christmas is about Christ and, tomorrow, Christ will still be Christ.

Let’s not forget that, for the Christian, every day should be Christmas.

Every day should be a celebration that, in Christ, God dwelt among us. Every day should be a celebration that, in Christ, God came to rescue us. Every day should be a celebration that, in Christ, we are free from our sin.

If you don’t know Christ, I pray that you would come to know Him. There is no other name by which we are saved. There is no other means by which we can experience a relationship with God. There is no other truth. There is no other road. Forgiveness is offered to all, but given only to those who will accept it. I pray that you accept it.

If you do know Christ, I pray that the spirit of Christmas would reign in your hearts all year long.

Merry Christmas, friends.

Partings

Kermit the Frog once said, “Life is made up of meetings and partings. That is the way of it.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about partings.

Partings are always hard, but not always for the same reasons.

Some partings are hard because they go badly. They leave hurt and disappointment in their wake. They leave broken trust and damaged relationships behind.

Others are hard because they go well.

I’ve had my share of partings. You probably have, too.

I’m in the midst of one and it has been wholly unlike any other I’ve ever experienced.

I had a pastor (and boss) prayed for and with me as I wrestled with the decision to transition out of a role I have loved for four years. He challenged and supported me throughout the entire process.

I had friends come through in the most incredible ways. They, too, prayed for and with me. They have been selfless in their encouragement. They have loved me.

I hope you get to experience a good parting.

They are, in many ways, harder than a bad parting. But, I hope you get to experience a good one, nonetheless.

Turn the Page

I haven't read much fiction. The genre never appealed to me.

But, a friend of mine loves classics and has been introducing me to a world of literature I had never explored.

I've noticed the most engaging stories comprise twists and turns that the reader- much less the characters - never saw coming. Somehow, though, the author manages to tie it all into a coherent and convincing narrative.

Have you ever read a book in which the entire plotline could be predicted in the opening pages? You feel like you've been cheated - at least, I do. I want to be hanging on every word. I want to guess at what must happen next, only to find out I was completely wrong. I want to be delighted as the story unfolds in an entirely different direction.

Until it comes to my story, that is.

The moving truck is coming today.

I never saw that coming.

Don't get me wrong. I can't wait for the next chapter. But, I really didn't want to turn the page on the chapter I've been living in for the last several years, either. It has been filled with the most wonderful characters. The plot has unfolded in the most incredible ways. I know when I go on to the next chapter, so much will change.

But, I can't have it both ways.

I have to trust the Author. And I do.

He has never let me down. He has never lead me astray. He has never taken me in the wrong direction. He has never introduced characters without a purpose. He has never taken me places without a cause. I have no reason to believe He will do so this time.

To move forward in my story, I have to turn the page. The next chapter is waiting. It is always waiting.

I'm anxious to see what happens next.

I'm ready. But, more than a little sad.

The Red Strokes

I hated the red pen.

You know the one I'm talking about.

The red pen that marked all my wrong answers. That brightly proclaimed every grammatical error. The red pen that smugly declared the value of my half-hearted efforts at the top of the page.

The red pen judges me.

A 2010 study led by a Tufts University graduate student named Michael Slepian tested the difference between using a red pen and a black pen.

“Participants in the study were given incomplete words and had to fill in missing letters. For example, ‘fai_’ could be completed as ‘fail’ or ‘fair’; 'wro_' could be ‘wrong’ or ‘wrote.’ Those using red pens completed 28 percent more word-stems with words related to errors and poor performance than did people using black pens. 'The idea is if you are holding a red pen, the failure-related words come to mind more easily,' says Slepian.”

Isn't that interesting?

And other studies have produced similar results.

That got me thinking.

Am I a "red pen" person? Do I look for opportunities to call out the weaknesses of the people around me? Do I enjoy correcting their every error? Am I the self-proclaimed expert in too many conversations? Do I enjoy the bright red strokes a little too much?

Often, I do. Not always, but too often. I tend to see shortcomings before I see strengths. Quicker to criticize than to compliment.

The problem is "red pen" people never seem to run out of ink.

I don't want to be that way. I'm putting my red pen down.

Buggy

If you’ve never read the Dilbert comic strip, you’re missing out.  It’s really funny.

The comic pokes fun at the craziness of corporate culture – culture that stifles productivity, fosters laziness and awards incompetence. The cartoon’s observations of human behavior – though caricaturized – are remarkably astute (and not all that exaggerated).

In one strip, Dilbert is meeting with his Pointy-Haired Boss and the company CEO to update them on a recurring set of internal business issues.

“I found the root cause of our problems,” says Dilbert.  

“It’s people. They’re buggy.”

They sure are.

I sure am.

We are the root cause of nearly all of our problems. 

We are the root cause of our greatest miscommunications. We are the root cause of a lot of unresolved conflict. We are the root cause of most of our relational breakdowns.

We are all buggy.

It doesn’t do us any good to pretend otherwise.

So, let’s be gracious with one another. 

Let’s not be so hard on the flaws of other people.

Let's, instead, spend a little more time working on ours.

We might just change everything.

What We Have Left

The hall burst in applause as Itzhak Perlman appeared on the stage, took up his violin, and signaled to the conductor.

A couple of bars into the first song, one of Perlman’s strings snapped. It would have been quite understandable for the great violinist to bring the concert to a brief halt so that he could change the string and continue as he had rehearsed.

But, that’s not what he did.

He paused for a moment before signaling to the conductor to start from where they left off.

Perlman resolved to perform his solo with only three strings. He adjusted the notes in his head to accommodate the deficient instrument. When he was unable to find a comparable note on another string, he improvised. The piece held together spectacularly.

When the final note rang out, the audience sat in silence for just a moment, astonished at what they had just witnessed. Then, once again, they erupted into wild ovation.

Perlman waited until the noise died away before addressing the eager crowd.

“You know,” he said, “sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much beautiful music you can still make with what you have left.”

Perlman had full awareness of his weaknesses and full mastery of his strengths. He did not ignore the former, nor did he dismiss the latter.

We all have broken strings. We all have others still intact.

Artistic wisdom requires that we be both aware of our weaknesses and then learn to play to our strengths.

Only then can we make beautiful music with what we have left.

The Middle of Stories

When Steve Jobs passed away a few years ago, his sister, Mona Simpson, gave his eulogy. I remember reading it in the New York Times the next day and something she said leapt off the page at me. "We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories."

She's right.

But life, as well as death, happens in the middle of many stories.

People have moved in and out of mine. Some stepped out of my story far too soon and others overstayed their welcome. Some have been a source of great joy and others have left pain and hurt in their wake. Some have changed me in ways I can hardly explain and others I can barely remember. But all have left their mark.

We live and die, work and play, laugh and grow, in the middle of stories, of many stories.

We shape each other's plots.

We impact each other's stories.

We change each other's lives.

What an incredible responsibility it is to know that, for better or worse, we leave a mark.

What mark will you leave?

The Joy of Gratitude

I sat down to write a profound reflection on gratitude. I intended to compose beautiful words about what it means to give thanks. I tried to focus on finding the right way to describe what this day is to be about.

But, Annie just wanted me to play with her.

My six-month-old niece was scooting around at my feet. She let out a delighted squeal as she gripped my pant leg and tried to pull herself up. She looked at me with her big blue eyes and gave me a heart-melting, dimpled smile.

I put away my writing and got down on the floor.

Thanksgiving is about, well, giving thanks for all that God has done for us.

Gratitude, though, is more than what we say – it’s how we live.

Gratitude is about thanking God for Annie and then getting down on the floor and enjoying the blessing of her little life.

Gratitude is about thanking God for your family and then savoring the laughter shared around the dinner table.

Gratitude is about thanking God for your friends and then treasuring the conversations over a cup of coffee.

It is expression and enjoyment.

Words of gratitude without a life of gratitude are empty.

Let’s express our gratitude today, but let’s not forget to enjoy what God has given.

The Object of Gratitude

Gratitude has been getting a lot of press lately.

Psychologists present research demonstrating the many mental and emotional benefits of practicing gratitude. Motivational speakers and productivity gurus talk about the value of incorporating gratitude into their daily routines. Publishing companies are releasing gratitude journals sprinkled with inspirational quotes.

But, there’s something missing.

The object of gratitude.

Gratitude implies that a gift has been received. If a gift was received, then there must have been a giver.

Do you see what’s been done? They’ve made gratitude about the receiver rather than about the giver. The expression of gratitude, as a response to the giver, has been turned into the emotion of gratitude, to further profit the receiver.

Thursday, we celebrate Thanksgiving.

As we sit down to share a meal with our families and friends, let’s remember to whom we give thanks. Let’s remember that every gift has a giver.

Let’s remember that there is none worthier of our gratitude than the God who gave us life and breath, provision and protection, justice and order, forgiveness and grace, love and relationship.

Thanksgiving, after all, is about giving thanks. So, this year, let’s do that.

Let’s give thanks to God – the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

Quicksand

Most of my childhood was spent playing with my two brothers in the beautiful woods behind our house. We created elaborate imaginary worlds out there (think Bridge to Terabithia, only with less tragic endings). We had our own system of currency (usually rocks), our own medical practices (dirt and leaves, mostly), even our own sports (“mudboarding,” which involved gliding down the hills in our sneakers and only worked right after it rained). 

Our many hours in the woods also gave us this sense of survival – we had to take care of ourselves in the dangerous backcountry of our suburban home. (In reality, our parents could almost always see us through the living room window.)

Obviously, if we were going to survive in the deep wilderness, we needed survival books. Our favorite was The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. You never knew when you’d need to escape the death-grip of quicksand. The first step, by the way, is to not panic which means I probably wouldn’t have made it to the second step.

I always thought quicksand would turn out to be a bigger problem in my life than it has been. I've actually never even seen quicksand, much less been stuck in it. Yet, the fear was there. I would often imagine what a horrible death that would be. I would imagine the feeling of utter loneliness as I sunk into the darkness. Morbid, I know.

I’m not afraid of quicksand anymore. I’ve outgrown that. 

I have adult fears now – about relationships, finances, and health. I spin my own worst-case scenarios. I catastrophize. I let my imagination run wild.

Nothing feeds my fear like my imagination.

Throughout my life, most of what I feared would happen never did.  Life hasn’t been perfect, by any means, but it also hasn’t been as tragic as I thought it would be.

Yes, there is real tragedy and real pain and real worst-case scenarios.

But, let's deal with those as they come and resolve to no longer waste ourselves on destructive fantasies.

Hot Pockets

I love stand-up comedy.

Of all my (many) quirks, this is the one my family teases me about most often, probably because I think that because I listen to a lot of comedy I, too, must be hilarious. Apparently, it does not work that way.  But, I digress.

The reason I love stand-up comedy is that it exposes ridiculous human behaviors through the lens of the mundane. We are bizarre creatures and don’t even know it.

The other night, I went to see one of my favorite comedians – Jim Gaffigan. He is known for his bits on food and is best known for his piece on Hot Pockets.

If you’ve never had a Hot Pocket, congratulations. You are in an elite club  that comprises seven other Americans.

Hot Pockets, as described by Gaffigan, are a Pop-Tart crust filled with nasty meat. There is also a vegetarian version for “people who don’t want to eat meat, but still want diarrhea.”

I don’t think anyone is under any illusion that Hot Pockets are healthy. No one thinks they are doing their body any good by consuming a Hot Pocket. Yet, millions are sold every year.

“I’ve never eaten a Hot Pocket and afterwards thought ‘I’m glad I ate that,’” Gaffigan observes.

I listened (and laughed) as he talked about Hot Pockets, and thought about how I have made a lot of choices I know aren’t good for me, exposing me as the ridiculous person I am.

I've chosen to cling to jealousy and watched my gratitude erode.

I've chosen to be dishonest and watched trust deteriorate.

I've chosen selfishness and watched relationships break down.

I've never given into greed, arrogance, impatience, anger, disloyalty, or cowardice, and afterwards thought, "I'm glad I did that."

There's just nothing funny about self-destruction.

I'm going to be more careful about what I let into my heart. There is too much at stake.

Good Over Fast

A couple nights ago, a friend and I met at a local coffee shop to catch up. Our conversation turned to traveling and she began telling me about the time she and her husband spent in Europe. 

She said that they quickly noticed that the Europeans seemed, on the whole, to be more fit that most Americans, even though local businesses would close down in the middle of the day to enjoy a long meal and it wasn’t uncommon for dinner to stretch late into the night. My friends couldn’t understand how these people, who seemed to spend so much of their time eating, managed to stay so lean.

Finally, her husband decided to ask a waitress to explain it to him. Her response was profound.

“You eat food fast,” she said. “We eat good food.”

She’s right, I think.

We often opt for fast over good. We choose convenience over quality. We think more about efficiency than we do enjoyment.

And we are paying a price for those choices. Our health is suffering. Cancer and heart disease are prevalent. More than half of all Americans are on medication – many on more than one.

Certainly, food is not the only factor. That’s not really the point, though.

The point is our tendency for fast over good – a mentality that spills into other parts of our lives.

Particularly, our relationships.

It is often how we approach our friendships, our marriages, our children and even God.

Relationships take work. They take investment. They take time. They are meant to be savored, cherished, enjoyed. When we prioritize convenience over community, we miss out on the goodness of relationships. 

And we pay a price for that choice.

I’m going to choose to prioritize the good - the better. I hope you do too.  Slow down. Savor the people in your life. Take time to enjoy your relationships - including (and especially) with God.

 

Represent

The departure time was approaching and we still hadn't been assigned a gate, so I lingered around the departure board in my usual terminal at the Charlotte airport, waiting for my flight to St. Louis to update. My family didn’t know I was coming in for the weekend and I couldn't wait to see the look in their faces when I walked in the door.

Instead of assigning us a gate, they delayed our flight by fifteen minutes. Then another fifteen. Then thirty. Three hours later, we boarded.

And, for thirty more minutes, we just sat. No one came on the speaker to update us on the further delay. We didn't see a pilot or anything resembling a crew. Finally, a flight attendant emerged and informed us that they were fixing a minor maintenance issue and we would be off in no time. Another twenty minutes passed.

People were clearly getting agitated. If I'm being honest, I was too. I was supposed to be home hours ago. The man sitting next to me started to complain loudly about the poor communication (it really was pretty bad). The woman on the other side of me was really struggling with the concept of personal space. The kid behind me started to kick my seat out of boredom. Everything in me wanted to commiserate with the man on my right, elbow the woman on my left and whack the kid behind me. The only thing that kept me from being a complete jerk was my t-shirt.

It was from my church… where I work.

When I put on that shirt, I became a representative of my church. How I behaved, how I spoke, how I reacted would communicate something about my church and the kind of people that have aligned themselves with its mission. It’s like an athlete putting on his jersey.

It says, "This is who I play for. This is my team. This is who I represent."

As I sat on that hot, noisy plane, thinking about all of this, I realized that this is actually my every day.

When I wake up in the morning, the Bible says that I am to "put on Christ." I play for Him. I am on His team. I represent Him. How I behave, how I speak, how I react communicates something about the kind of person that follows Him. The question, of course, is whether or not I'm communicating what Jesus would have me communicate.

My motive for keeping calm in a frustrating airplane situation should not have been my t-shirt. It should have been Jesus.

I have aligned myself with His mission. And so now, I represent Him. In everything.

Standing Together

I love historical fiction. I especially love anything by Conn Iggulden. A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to his series on Genghis Khan. It was spectacular. So, I recently picked up his series on Julius Caesar. It, too, is spectacular.

During one escapade to wreak vengeance on a pirate sea craft early in his career, Julius lies awake, worrying that his legion will not prove up to the task. They are a relatively ragtag band of soldiers, with only a handful of professionally trained men. The rest were nothing more than enthusiastic peasants picked up at local port towns.

As Julius considers the battle to come, he comforts himself with the knowledge that his men will stand firm. They had, after all, developed a strong comradery through their other adventures.

“A man standing next to his friends cannot run for shame,” thinks Julius.

While I certainly don’t condone wreaking vengeance on pirate ships, I think Julius (well, Iggulden) had a point.

Standing next to friends can bring a confidence and courage unmatched by individual resolution. Perhaps that is, at least in part, why the Bible places such an emphasis on community.

God has given me the most remarkable friends over the years. They have stood next to me through difficult seasons, major decisions, and change – lots of change. They have challenged me to stand firm in my faith when it would be easier to desert. They have loved me at my worst and see all that I could be – all that God intends for me to be. They don’t let me run for shame.

I pray you have friends like that. If you don’t, I pray you find them.

I pray you are that friend – for someone.

Shine Like Stars

Ten years ago, I was living in Colorado. I still think about that season of my life almost every day – the lessons, the memories, the people. Those months changed me. There are so many stories I could share, but I was thinking about one in particular this week.

One weekend, my friends and I went camping in the Rockies. We drove for what seemed like hours into the Rockies before finally arriving at our campsite. We unloaded our gear and laughed as we fumbled with our tents, trying to assemble them in the dark. We sang songs and told stories and talked about what God had done over our last few months together. After eating our campfire-cooked meal, we pulled out our sleeping bags and situated ourselves on the cold, hard ground. As my head eased onto my pillow, I looked up at the night sky. What I saw took my breath away.

Out of the dark sky burst a million stars. Without the ambient light of the city, they seemed to shine magnificently bright.

“Do everything,” wrote Paul to the Philippians, “without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky, as you hold firmly to the word of life.”

All of my life I’ve wanted to fit in, to be a part of the crowd, to be, well, normal.

Looking at the stars as I lay on the side of a mountain I understood, maybe for the first time, that I’m not supposed to fit in.

I’m supposed to be different – not for the sake of being different, but for the cause of Christ. I’m supposed to live my life in such a way that, against the dark backdrop of a warped and crooked world, I shine the radiant light of Jesus.

If you’re a Christian, this is your calling, too. We, as a community, are to burst through the darkness as a million stars. We are to be different.

So, how will we be purposefully different today?

Off with His Head

In the 2010 remake of Alice in Wonderland, there's a scene in which the evil Red Queen discovers that her tarts have been stolen. To say that the Queen has a bit of a temper would be an understatement. She also, apparently, really loves tarts. When she realizes that they are gone, she sort of loses her marbles.

Infuriated, she bursts into the hallway and begins inspecting each of her servants, intent on finding the perpetrator. When, finally, the guilty servant is found, exposed by a hint of raspberry jam at the corner of his mouth, she bellows, "Off with his head!"

Every time I watch that scene, I just want to pull the Queen aside and say, "Look, I know he stole your tarts and all, but I think you might be overreacting just a little."

It's comical, of course, but the truth is that I often overreact myself. And when I do, it is anything but comical.

The man that just cut me off in traffic without using his turn signal? Off with his head!

The woman that won't stop talking excessively loudly on her phone in an otherwise quiet waiting room? Off with her head!

The guy at the gym that sits on the machines in between sets so that no one else can use them? Off with his head!

I could go on. You probably could too.

Thanks to a good bit of socializing, my irritation and impatience rarely surface. Yet there they are- right on the edge of my heart.

Therein lies the problem- my sinful heart.

The content of my heart comes pouring out when I get bumped. It spills over and exposes who I really am. It is evident in the words that escape my lips and in the ones left unspoken. Often, I turn out to be far less impressive than I thought myself to be.

If I am the problem, though, I cannot also be the solution. A sinful heart cannot remedy a sinful heart.

Jesus conquered my sin on the cross – and He conquered yours. His sacrifice on our behalf not only saves us, but changes us.

How has he changed you?

End of Construction

Ruth Bell was born in 1920 to medical missionary parents serving in China. She came to know Jesus as a young age and always thought she would remain single and, like her parents, serve as a missionary in Asia. God, though, had other plans. In 1940, while enrolled at Wheaton College, she met a man named Billy.

In 1943, the two were married and Ruth Bell became Ruth Bell Graham.

Neither could have predicted the adventure ahead. Neither could have known how God would use them to advance the cause of Christ. Through their ministry, hundreds of millions of people heard the message of Jesus.

Ruth passed away in 2007 and was buried at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. Next to her tombstone is a plaque that says, “While riding down the highway years ago, Ruth noticed a sign beside the road: ‘End of Construction – Thank you for your patience.’ With a smile, she said that these were the words she wanted on her gravestone.”

I’ve been under construction for three decades now. By the grace of God, there has been a lot of progress, but there is also still a lot of work left to be done. I’m more generous than I used to be, but I still hold tightly to what I perceive to be mine. I’m more forgiving than I used to be, but I can still hold a grudge. I’m more faithful to Jesus than I used to be, but I still wander. I’m more selfless than I used to be, but I still put myself first most of the time.

I’m not alone in that. None of us has arrived. None of us is all that God created us and saved us to be. None of us is without fault and failure. None of us is without sin.

We’re all still under construction. Let’s be patient with one another.