On February 26, 2010, I did something nobody believed I ever would. I didn’t do it to prove a point, or to show rebellion against my family or faith or anything like that. It wasn’t spontaneous or unprompted, and there were definitely people who tried to talk me out of it; I got a tattoo.
I didn’t go out and get any sort of a tramp stamp or tribal ink or some random symbol that I’d regret years down the road. I didn’t get it have just to show off to or make me look cool, or even to be a ministry tool. I did it to be a reminder to myself. I was setting myself up with this challenge: to LIVE ABOVE REPROACH.
When I was in high school, these words hung on a sticky note on the bedroom door of one of my best friends. Every time I was at her house, and I entered or exited her room, I would see those words and ask myself “what on earth could possibly mean?” Many more times than once, I googled the phrase, and I even tried to find the words stated as such in the Bible, but I just couldn’t find them. So instead, I took the words and defined them as a statement.
The first 2/3 of the statement I understood completely; live is the essence of what I do. Each day, I am alive, breathing and serving a glorious, unattainable God, watching HIS perfect plan for this life He’s given me unfold. Above is simply to be more, or higher than something else. But at that time, reproach, that silly little word, just didn’t have a distinct meaning in my life. So instead of googling the phrase, I just decided to search for that word, alone.
Various dictionaries had many definitions of reproach, as a noun or a verb, in a couple of contexts each, but my favorite definition said simply: “a cause or occasion of blame, discredit, or disgrace.” I like this, because to think about myself as a cause of disgrace, to my personal reputation, to my friends and family, and especially to my savior, the one I owe so much, because I deserve so little of all He’s done to save me, is a completely appalling thought. I don’t want to let anyone down and so to disgrace them would honestly break my heart.
Although I’ve set this challenge before myself, there are far too many days that end with my thoughts of how poorly I’ve upheld this goal. While many would take this shortcoming as a sign of defeat, I see it only as greater incentive to strive more deeply to end each coming day with the ability to tell myself that I deserve to hear “well done, my good and faithful servant.”
But even with that in mind, it’s still hard to live up to, especially in such a phase of transition as having just graduated from college and entering grad school all within a matter of weeks. Living a life above reproach has brought me far in my collegiate career. It’s taught me a lot and helped me to endure many really difficult moments and to embrace my experiences wholeheartedly.
My first trip to Jamaica was crucial in my understanding of how to LOVE above reproach. (If you don’t know about this trip, I briefly explained it in my very first post, and, since I recently came home from my third trip I intend to share more about it soon, so stay tuned!!) The people there thrive off of the relationships we built with them. They truly understand that our actions towards them come without demand or condition for reciprocation, although they offer back an unconditional love that could rival anything.
Other experiences, like working with kids, working at kamp, falling in love with an amazing group of sisters in AIΩ and meeting such a diverse group of people in Abilene and at Hardin-Simmons have taught me the importance of accepting people with open arms and loving them freely. I’ve understood time and time again that people have to be loved, regardless of where they’ve come from, and that their pasts make them who they are. Where we’ve been helps us develop daily into who we become, and to fully love people, above reproach and without disgracing others means that we take the time to understand how a person’s past has shaped them and how understanding that leads to understanding how best they receive love that is given.
So not to ramble any longer, but since I shared what the challenge of living above reproach means to me, I wanted to share this extent of my personal challenge as well. Feel free to send me questions and leave comments! I love your feedback, and I’d absolutely love to continue sharing my heart with you.
Don’t forget to check back soon for an update on my most recent journey to Jamaica! God’s still doing marvelous works there, and my heart still knows that Jamaica is its other home!
In Grace's Amazing Hands,