“Lord, let me know myself; let me know You.”

When Pastor Corby quoted this line of Augustine’s prayer in church I was a tiny bit unsettled. Praying these two thoughts as though they should be equally sought necessitates a desire to know myself uncomfortably well. I am complex, a reality for anyone made in the image of God.

Self-reflection is often overwhelming to my perfectionistic type A personality. I don’t like realizing how aspects of my sin has darkened my perspective for decades. I especially hate it when others have been affected and possibly have seen things in my heart that aren’t completely wonderful. I can always avoid these blindspots, ignore the humility, downplay the regret, and in the process create more regret. Or, I can prayerfully work through conflict, feelings, emotions and ask the Holy Spirit to show me my true self. The difficult process of repentance takes time and intentionality. It requires my existing in the presence of negative feelings or emotions in order to understand and name my sin.

Rev. Rob Yancey from McLean Presbyterian Church preached a sermon illuminating repentance as one of these words we say yet don’t fully comprehend. He used this enlightenment to contrast Biblical repentance with false repentance. I’m convinced the Holy Spirit gave Pastor Yancey a screenshot of my heart as he wrote this sermon. I do both. I’m often impatient for the latter and therefore tempted to settle for the former. Rob, if I can call him Rob, reflects on three characteristics that contrast Biblical repentance with false repentance in Psalm 51: recognize that we’re undone, receive grace and reveal God. “David doesn’t hide his shame he uses his experience to reveal God to others.”

As I backed out of my driveway a few weeks ago I noticed a crop of tiny weeds growing under my rose bushes. Trying to pull them would have required the use of tweezers and a magnifying glass. I could have painstakingly lifted each weed one at a time to ensure the roots came with each stem. Another option was to give them a quick spray of Roundup no doubt damaging the rose bush that encompasses the purpose of having a flower bed in the first place. So, I waited for the weed colony to grow. A week later I was able to easily grab this weed harvest by the fist fulls and remove them roots and all.

When I’m faced with pieces of Leah that allow my actions, reactions, attitudes, motives to be sinful, I regret not seeing them sooner. I take a mental walk through relationships with people I love and realize I could have handled things better. Been more effective. Lived more peaceably. Even at the cost of regret and humility, I’m thankful for the time it takes to be able to fully extract those sinful pieces and any self deceit that is allowing the space for them to flourish. I’m thankful God continues to show me more of Himself so there’s less room for me. I rejoice when I’m able to name the ugly that lingers in the deepest crevices of my deceptive heart. As this sludge is removed I have a clearer understanding of my continuing transformation and am able to enjoy my Savior more fully. I also value the kindness in God’s resistance to use the spiritual equivalent of Roundup.

“Look upon me, that I may love You.
Call me that I may see You.
And for ever enjoy You.”
-St. Augustine