Stains (by Len Winneroski)

imagesThere are certain words, like the words pus, zit, fart, diarrhea and stain, that I tend to avoid in normal conversation. There is really nothing wrong with these words, they just are not all that… you know… pleasant. We like pleasant words. Pleasant words make us feel safe and in control.

Words like pus, zit, fart, diarrhea and stain describe a world that we all experience, but that we like to hide and pretend doesn’t exist. The fact of the matter is that we all fart, pop blisters on the bottom of our feet, and squeeze zits on the end of our noses behind closed doors. Unfortunately we all experience diarrhea at some point in our lives too. If we were all completely honest, I bet that we would all admit to hiding at least one pair of soiled underwear or panties in the trash.

My mom told me that when I was a toddler she noticed that my underwear were disappearing one day. Apparently when she confronted me about it I said that I had no idea what she was talking about. Upon further interrogation (like only mothers and wives can do) my mom eventually broke me down and my secret was exposed. With my head held in a position of shame, I reluctantly led her to my underwear burial ground. My potty training was not going so great, and when I failed to be a big boy, instead of admitting the truth to my parents, I decided to stuff my spoiled Fruit of the Loom’s under my dresser. Out of sight out of mind….

Have you ever wondered whose bright idea it was to make underpants white in the first place? I mean what maniac would dress their active little boy in white pants, a white shirt and white tennis shoes and tell him to go outside and play? Nobody who has ever had little boys! So what’s up with white underpants? I’m thinking that it must be a marketing ploy to sell more underwear. One of my son’s friends said that they should stamp the words “Discard When You Can’t Read This Anymore” on the inside of our underpants to help us decide when it’s time to pitch them. I know that I’m stating the obvious, but in real life we all get zits and we all wear stained underpants sometimes.

So why in the world am I writing about zits and stained underpants? I think that we like to pretend that our lives are more ordered than they really are sometimes. The Apostle Paul came to understand that God’s power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Through adversity and humiliation he learned that weakness is actually a badge of honor for the redeemed. Paul understood that we only experience God’s power in our lives by admitting and embracing our weakness.

Through the years I have found that the best way to share my faith in Christ is from a platform of humility and weakness. Jesus said that in order to help a friend get a speck of sawdust out of their eye, we have to remove the log from our own eye. I can’t judge those who lie because sometimes I lie, I can’t judge those who struggle with addictions because I have struggled with addictions in my past, I can’t judge those who curse because I curse sometimes when I’m too cheap to hire a professional for our home repairs, I can’t judge those who struggle with their weight because I eat to comfort my stress sometimes, I can’t judge those who don’t know the Lord yet because faith is a gift (Ephesians 2:8). I could go on and on but I think that you get the point. People don’t need to be reminded that they are not perfect. They need to be reminded that they are loved and valuable.

So if power is made perfect in weakness, and sawdust can only be removed after taking out the logs in our own lives, why do Christians like to pretend that life is perfect? Life is not always perfect. Christians struggle just like the rest of the world. The difference is that we have hope and find purpose in the chaos through Christ and His Word.

We hate stains. We buy carpet cleaners to remove food and pet stains from our carpet. We buy new paint to cover up the water stains on our ceilings. We leave the stained underwear in our dresser drawer or throw them away because they are embarrassing. We all make stains in life and are affected by the stains created by others. So if stains are a reality of life, why do we try so hard to hide them and cover them up? Jesus knows where you hide your spoiled Fruit of The Looms and He still loves you passionately. So let’s stop hiding our weaknesses under the dresser and start embracing them so that Christ’s power can rest upon us.

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