I'm a bit of a mess. I procrastinate, so I'm always in a hurry. I'm an Olympic over-thinker. That leads to sleepless nights and emotional eating, and I often feel overwhelmed by my own life. In other words, I'm normal.
I wanted God to change me into a calmer, sweeter, thinner version of myself that was always on time and never too busy to chat with a friend. I prayed about that. A lot. Then it dawned on me. What if I was asking God to make me into a person He didn't want me to be? If so, I was destined for nonstop disappointment with myself and God.
Sound familiar? I think most of us have areas we don't like about ourselves. And the self-help industry is making billions off our insecurities. But if we were good at self-improvement, we would not need a Savior. The truth is, He's the only one good at transforming us, and He's the only one with a blueprint of the finished product. Trying to change ourselves is like trying to put together a 3-D puzzle with no picture of the finished product.
Remember, the only things we control is free will and our attitude, and those two are linked. I believe God wants us to freely choose to hand over construction rights to Him, accept ourselves as we grow, and receive lots of grace from Him throughout the process. He wants us to love ourselves. Why? Because we can't give grace to others if we aren't receiving it ourselves. The Bible says, "freely receive" (from God) and "freely give" (to others). Second, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we are nitpicking and critical of ourselves, odds are we will be that way with others.
What makes this work is the cross. God does not want me to ignore the fact that I'm a mess. He just doesn't want me stuck there. What He wants is for me to have an honest appreciation of how large a price was paid for me on the cross. As I become aware of my humanness and failures, I can't help but look at the cross and say "wow" and "thank you!" That is what pleases God.
He wants us to make a way bigger deal out of Jesus, and we start this by accepting the gift of His grace. We are not supposed to be self-occupied, but instead be Jesus-occupied. If I self-loathe or self-aggrandize, I am self-occupied with a bad attitude. If I'm honest, I realize I'm a messy masterpiece that's still being painted. Then I say, "Wow, Jesus, wow!"
Being aware of Him and His grace makes me Jesus-occupied with a good attitude. So give yourself an attitude check. Self-occupied or Jesus-occupied? One will give you a case of the nasties, and the other a case of the happies.
• CRIS CORZINE-MCCLOSKEY is director of Caring Counseling Ministries, 11264 Illinois 37 in Marion, which provides counseling from a Biblical perspective. For an appointment, call (618) 997-2129.