Slowly and surely I pray I am becoming a more mature woman of faith. With age and experience should come an easier temperament, greater patience, less defensiveness, more wisdom. Ideally all of the good characteristics increase, while the not so good decrease.
For the most part I feel as though I have followed this progression. I was once extremely defensive, quick to throw up walls when faced with constructive criticism or the fact that I had acted in a way that was flat out wrong. I used to get angry and unpleasant. Looking back, I believe this is because I knew I was wrong but didn't want to admit it. My go-to defense was denial. If I could deny that my behavior was flawed then I didn't have to face the fact that work needed to be done and changes needed to be made. Over time, through the growing of my faith, I have stopped putting up those walls that stood in the way of making positive changes in my character.
On this journey I still have such a long way to go. Just today I was reminded of how easy it is for me to slip back into my old ways of reacting immaturely. Without constantly calling on the strength of God, I am quick to fall back into bad habits that are childish and unreasonable. But there is a way to avoid such pitfalls and lapses in faithful obedience.
I must honestly examine my behavior and challenge myself to make changes to the areas that don't line up with God's word and commands. Although I am certainly not perfect, I am trying to judge my actions in light of how God would view them. Would God approve of how I treated someone? Would God approve of how I responded to a comment someone made? It is my own version of "What would Jesus do?" Instead, it asks, "What would God think?"
When you start to view your actions in the light of what God would think of them your whole outlook is transformed. No longer are the ways of the world acceptable simply because every one else behaves, talks and acts like that and, "heck, so should I!" No. When you are looking at God's standards you can't be looking at the worlds. Just because the world is rude, impatient and defensive doesn't give the Christ follower the right to live in the same way. Christ commands his children to live their lives in the light of who he is, not what the world is. As children of the most high king, we are to mold and shape ourselves to his image.
In the world we will find that excuses for faulty behavior are readily and easily available. Did you lash out at a co-worker? Oh, that's okay! They deserved it. Were you short with your Mom? No big deal, everyone gets in arguments with their families.
God doesn't let us off the hook because we come up with convincing excuses. He wants us to put down our defenses, forget the excuses, and fess up to the areas of out lives and hearts that need transformation. A temper problem? God can grant patience. A tendency toward cutting, rude comments? God can impart grace. Impatient? God can transform that into patience that relies on his timing.
We can't truly mature without being honest with ourselves and with God about who we are, our shortcomings and what help we need to change. Defensiveness is a way that stands in the way of spiritual growth. Excuses are nothing more then flimsy shields meant to hide the truth.Tear down the walls and drop the shields. God wants to form you to his image but he can't come in and truly transform you until you have surrendered your flawed ways so you can be filled with his Holy Spirit and be shaped to the image of his Son.