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I have a collarbone problem; an asymmetrical irregularity.  I honestly don’t know if it is a congenital condition or the result of a childhood accident or injury that never healed properly.  If symmetrically arranged, my collarbones would more or less mirror each other, roughly pointing to 9:15 if they were hands on the face of clock.  However, my clavicle clock is stuck somewhere between 9:10 and 9:12.  This odd skeletal arrangement results in a left shoulder that appears shorter and higher than my right shoulder, with a similar distortion in the appearance of my trapezoids.  A shirt suffices to disguise this oddity from most people, but I see it in the mirror every single morning when I shave.

My left thumb doesn’t match my right one.  The end of “lefty” got mangled and nearly severed in a nasty car door accident when I was in kindergarten.  My left calf is noticeably smaller than my right one.  It has been that way ever since my junior year in high school when I spent an extended period of time in a leg cast following a football injury.  I have a “missing” knuckle where my ring finger joins my left hand, the result of a fracture while playing flag football in college; the knuckle still exists, but is hidden because of misalignment.

Just call me Nemo!  (For those of you who have never seen Finding Nemo, you really should take in this extremely entertaining and endearing animated film!)

Asymmetry is a tough pill to swallow for recovering perfectionists like me.  I once paused during a sermon several years ago and moved an artificial plant on the podium so that it would precisely mirror the position of the one on the other side of the pulpit.  Once order had been restored to the universe, I was able to proceed with the message.

I’ve come to learn that owning and embracing my physical asymmetry is a part of humbly acknowledging and accepting my humanness and my imperfection.

The same thing goes for my spiritual asymmetry.

I can now comfortably accept that God expects my faithfulness, not my flawlessness.  The latter is simply not within the realm of possibility for me.  I can rest in the confidence that He desires persistence and perseverance in my faith, not perfection.  I no longer have to live with the false guilt that I don’t measure up or unnecessarily inflict spiritual and emotional damage upon myself by trying to project and protect an image that neither I nor anyone else can live up to.

The apostle Paul describes his own spiritual asymmetry as follows:

“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.  Instead, I do what I hate…  I want to do what is good, but I don’t.  I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway…   Oh, what a miserable person I am!  Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Romans 7:15, 19, 24 – NLT).

Like Paul, I wrestle with spiritual incongruencies and inconsistencies.  There are days when most things seem to make reasonable sense, the dots connect, and my language and behavior generally conform to the image of Christ into which I am seeking to be transformed.  There are other days when I question just about everything, things don’t seem to align properly, and I am embarrassed by my spiritual immaturity and pettiness.

And so it will be for the rest of the journey: victories and defeats, strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, progress and lost ground.  My sanctification will not be made complete until Jesus returns and I see Him just as He is and am made like Him (I John 3:2).

Until then, I will do my best to walk in the Light so that I may have continual cleansing in His blood.  I will humbly and readily confess my transgressions, trusting in His faithfulness and righteousness to forgive my iniquities.  I will continue to entrust the salvation of my soul to my Advocate and His atoning sacrifice for my sins  (I John 1:7-2:2).

His strength for my weakness.  His righteousness for my sinfulness.  His perfection for my asymmetry.

Occasionally, phrases just leap out of songs, resonate with my heart, and find a permanent place in my consciousness.

One that has been rattling around in my brain for a few years now is the line, “I’m way too old to hate you,” from Brandi Carlile’s tune, “My Song,” which appeared on her 2007 album, The Story.  As I have commented on this blog before, I have a great affinity for Carlile’s music.  Her lyrics are honest and poetically powerful, and she delivers them with amazing energy and palpable emotion.  She doesn’t shy away from lyrically expressing feelings of failure, regret, and loneliness.

“I’m way too old to hate you.”

Shouldn’t there be an age cap or some sort of statute of limitations on hatred?  Shouldn’t our journey of spiritual growth, maturity, and conformity to the image of Christ eventually lead us to a threshold where we are required to leave our excess emotional baggage behind?

I can think of few things sadder than someone approaching death, yet still harboring bitterness and animosity in their hearts over some incident that took place years or decades earlier.

It is so emotionally and spiritually self-destructive to live under the tyranny of a painful event from the past.  In shutting the gates of compassion and mercy toward others and refusing to release them from their offenses, we may fool ourselves into thinking that we are holding them as emotional hostages, when in reality it is ourselves who have been consigned to captivity.  Very often, the other person has moved on, having found forgiveness and redemption from an infinitely higher Source.  They live in grace and freedom, blissfully unaware of our self-imposed confinement in the mire of our own misery.

How old do I have to be before I can learn to let things go?  I think 51 is old enough!

While the following passages may be somewhat familiar, perhaps fresh phrasing from The Living Bible will provide some additional insight.

“If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry— get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the devil,” (Ephesians 4:26-27).

“Stop being mean, bad-tempered, and angry.  Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives,” (Ephesians 4:31).

“So get rid of your feelings of hatred. Don’t just pretend to be good! Be done with dishonesty and jealousy and talking about others behind their backs,” (I Peter 2:1).

“Try to stay out of all quarrels, and seek to live a clean and holy life, for one who is not holy will not see the Lord.  Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God’s best blessings. Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives,” (Hebrews 12:14-15).

Whatever the offense, let it go.

Whatever the disappointment, the pain, or the sense of betrayal, release it.

And pray that others will be just as gracious and merciful to you.

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