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Have you ever run across someone who just plain rubs you the wrong way? It might be someone at work or school, in your neighborhood, at your church possibly, or it could even be a family member – but there is just something there that feels like no matter what, they seem to strike a nerve, especially when you least expect it.

I have a few people like that in my life. It has seemed that no matter how hard I’ve tried, there is just this… barrier… or fog… or something almost indescribable… but definitely there, that keeps rearing its ugly head. There are a couple of people I can think of right off the bat. They are a regular part of my life, I see them frequently in various settings, but no matter how hard I try, I just can not seem to get past the fact that they rub me the wrong way.

WHY??? What is that all about?

I have suspected for some time that the Lord is trying to tell me something, to teach me a new or a renewed truth. But what it is has seemed to be just beyond my reach. I have suspected it had something to do with me, my need to fully see myself as God sees me – from all angles… the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. You know, that whole idea that I can only name it in another if it is already present in me. I am more likely to reject or dislike something in another person if I refuse to deal with that particular thing in myself. True for each and every one of us.

Darn it, Lord, but I would rather think more highly of myself. Surely, after all this time, I am better than that. Surely I have gotten beyond that struggle. Please! Tell I’ve made more progress than that!

I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
Romans 12:3-5 NLT

Ah, but the fact is I have not… and can not… except by simple faith (check it out here). It will never be by my own merit, or my own energy, or my own self-improvement, or education, or change of habits, or change of scenery. I must accept the simple truth that the beautiful, unique, amazing person who God created me to be (and who I truly am) – is marred, in reality not just in theory, by the fact of sin.

It’s like taking a beautiful masterpiece – just think of your most favorite piece of art. Is it a specific painting, or the work of a specific artist, a sculpture, needlework, pottery?Whatever your favorite masterpiece is, picture that as the real you, the you God designed and created you to be. Got that picture in your mind? Okay, now imagine taking a ratty, filthy, moth-eaten canvas bag and completely covering that beautiful masterpiece. Yep, you heard me. Just put that old bag right over the masterpiece.

Now what picture do you have in your mind? What do you see?

Is the masterpiece still there? Yes. Can you see and enjoy the beauty of the masterpiece? Well, sort of, in some spots, where the holes are, you can still catch glimpses of the beauty that is there. But that darn old canvas bag keeps getting in the way.

That is the marring effect of sin. It covers the real you, your true self, your spirit created by God over whom He is constantly proclaiming His love and pleasure. That you longs to be seen and recognized – especially by your own sweet self – just as that you is already seen and recognized by God. That is the you He is forever always wooing and calling out to and longing to be in fellowship with. He created you with His perfection in mind. He knows everything there is to know about you, and He loves you!

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
Psalm 139:13-14

(Want to read more about this? Check out the rest of the Psalm.)

And yet, the canvas bag is part of our reality as well. With the advent of Adam and Eve’s need for cover thanks to their choice to listen to the deceiver and turn away from God’s Presence, sin has covered the beauty within each and every person born – with one exception, Jesus. That marring of who we were created to be presents a dilemma – a battle for who will show up and take center stage – the beautiful masterpiece or the old tattered canvas bag.

We also must choose who we see when we look at others. Will we ask God for His eyes to see the masterpiece or will we keep the limitation of only being able to see that old tattered canvas bag that our marred human eyes see? When we choose our eyes, marred sees marred. When we ask for God’s eyes, beauty sees beauty.

And so, when I am interacting with those who rub me the wrong way for whatever reason, I am learning to take a deep breath, slow down, turn my focus to the One Who created me, and ask for His eyes. And in doing so, I am learning that what I see in those around me changes… just like magic. They don’t change, that’s not the issue. How I see and the lens through which I see them does. I’m not talking about rose-colored glasses, I’m talking about God-shaped truth. The masterpieces, not the canvas bags!

And some day, we will be able to see each other without any trace of those old, tattered, rotten canvas bags. Thank You, Jesus, for taking away all our sin and restoring us to perfection, to the masterpieces You created us to be, through Your own sacrifice. Thank You for redeeming me and all who call on Your Name! Forgive me for the times I choose to see only the old canvas bags. Thank You for allowing me to see the masterpieces around me through Your eyes!

Dear Reader, thank you for sharing your beauty with me! I would love to hear from you!