A friend of mine recently shared an idea he had for a story.
The story would be focused around one individual and his daily life. The first half of the story would be told from the perspective of those around him, while the second half would be told from the perspective of the protagonist.
The idea behind the story is that those around us always have a far different view of us than we have of ourselves. Whereas those around the protagonist saw him as confident, friendly, and funny, the protagonist is actually very insecure, lonely, and uses sarcasm as a buffer between others and himself.
I’m not really sure how well the idea would translate into an actual story, but I love the thought behind it. It really resonates with me.
I think that I’ve spent most of my life presenting myself as something that I am not. When you take a moment to stop and think, and you realize that none of your friends really even know who are you beneath the surface, it’s isolating.
It’s easy to fall into a mindset that you’re alone in your experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
The thing is that we all struggle with different things in life. Some of us struggle with alcoholism, lying, lust, stealing, adultery, and the list goes on. It can become tempting to look at your circumstances as unique though.
In my own selfishness I often look at my sin as different than everyone else’s. No one could ever understand the weight of it, that it weighs more, it’s less forgivable; less acceptable.
All of that is a lie.
I used to really struggle with feeling like my sin ran to the very core of who I was, that it wasn’t so much of an action, but a state of being; that something fundamental in me was broken. I used that to turn myself into a victim. I felt like God had given me this burden, and that it was too much for me to handle.
If you’ve ever been a victim of any sort of assault or sexual abuse, you understand how viewing yourself as a victim can completely change your perspective on people, God, and the future.
Victims are powerless, used, discarded; worthless.
I struggled so much, especially last year, with seeing myself as a victim. I began to define myself by my sin rather than by God’s grace. I only saw the negatives, and could not look past them to see any redeeming qualities that I may have possessed.
When I looked in the mirror I saw Stanton the alcoholic, Stanton the liar; Stanton the hypocrite. Furthermore, I felt as though all of this had been done to me. I saw myself as a failure in the eyes of God, rejected by my friends, and utterly devoid of any hope for a better future.
It wasn’t until the summer that I was able to realize all of those feelings that I had about my sin being at the very core of who I was were absolutely true, and that was cause for rejoicing.
It’s true, sin is in the very fabric of my being, but it doesn’t stop there, sin is at the foundation of each and every one of us. It isn’t that I failed, that I was singled out, that my burden was any greater than anyone else’s; each and every person I have ever known is struggling like me.
That’s what God’s grace is all about.
The message of God’s grace is simple and yet profound: I love you anyway. I could be the chief of all sinners, and God’s grace would still be enough to cover me.
I know that all of this is very basic stuff, but it’s vital, and I will never grow tired of relearning it.
I struggled a lot with depression as a teenager and on into college. I was never able to really fully understand that struggle until I better understood God’s grace, and my own ability to take on the burden of my sin.
Just today I began taking on the burden of my sin; buying into the lie that my sin was too great for forgiveness or love. I stopped though, and I reminded myself that while it is true, my sin is great, my savior is greater, and he bought me at a price.
I’m not alone. I am surrounded by sinners in just as much need of a savior. There’s something oddly comforting in knowing that you’re surrounded by people just like you, even if they can’t admit it.