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Day 5: Tarnished

Advent Blog Headers 2022 (4)

Editor’s note: On this fifth day of our Advent blog series “His Light Would Not Go Out,” current missioner Julia Pinto explores how accepting our flaws, or what makes us tarnished, can lead to a more honest relationship with God.

Tarnished? I don’t want to be tarnished! Rather than lackluster, I desire to be beautiful and brilliant. No, I will try to convince myself and other people that I am exceptional and have minimal weaknesses or flaws. That my life is significant. Let me just prove to everyone, including God, that I am worthy of admiration and approval. All I need to do is broadcast my attention-grabbing skills, talents, and accomplishments and then hide the things about myself that I dislike. 

Then I will be like a shiny, desirable piece of silver. Dulled metal has less value anyway.

To show that I have hidden blemishes is uncomfortably vulnerable. I feel tense and shameful in simply being honest with God about my irrational thoughts, unchecked emotions, and selfish tendencies. 

Honestly speaking though, even the desire to present myself as something better than I truly am is a failure to accept the present reality based on the fear of others’ judgment or rejection.

I’ve come to the same conclusion time and time again over the past few years that I am actually grateful to have my internal struggles because they push me again and again toward God. If I had to choose between a life as grand and polished as I dream (where, knowing myself, I most likely would not choose God) or this life where I am usually falling apart inside and have to rely on Him to get me through every day, I know I would choose the latter. 

God knows what He created and gives more space for all of my flaws and failures than I give myself. While my false sense of perfectionism leaves me paralyzed and stuck within myself, He is not afraid of my imperfections or irritable qualities.

Who am I behind the curtains that I am apt to put up? I still lack confidence and clarity in my role after being here on mission for ten months and often feel that my service is less important because of my Spanish deficiencies and the low number of people coming through this area. I make innumerable mistakes daily, especially in navigating relationships and “work” dynamics in a different culture. I am indecisive and find myself blowing about like a leaf in the wind. I wrestle frequently with doubts about my faith and worthiness of love and belonging.

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” If I were perfect, I would not need Jesus or His saving grace. And what a blessing it is to need You, God. To know and turn to the best friend possible for comfort, direction, strength, peace, joy, and overwhelming love. 

Tarnish is removable and impermanent. One day, You will transform me into Your glorious likeness, Jesus. Thank You for coming into our broken world “full of sin and doubt,” for accepting us unconditionally, for repeatedly providing and offering us a way out of the torments that we create for ourselves, for working through our weaknesses, and for constantly holding onto hope for us that we can be better each day.

Question for reflection: How can you be more honest in your relationship with God?

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Julia graduated from The University of Texas at Dallas in May 2015 with a BS in Mathematics and a Math Teacher Certification at the ripe age of 20. She taught Geometry, Algebra 2, Precalculus and Statistics for four years in a public high school in Richardson, Texas, as well as another year in a private school in Takoma Park, Maryland. Julia’s desire to serve and minister like St. Francis drew her to Washington D.C. to work as a Publications and Communications Associate with the US Catholic Mission Association through the DC Service Corps program, where she researched and helped support various mission organizations around the world. This call to mission now pushes Julia to venture beyond D.C. to serve as a missioner on the US-Mexico border. In her free time, Julia enjoys reading, working out, dancing, meeting strangers, and solving all kinds of puzzles.