Confessions of a Former Pharisee [Part 2]: My Outfit Sucks

Today we’re going to discuss my sucky wardrobe.

(Side note: do people even use the word “sucky” anymore? What if I add a hashtag; hashtags make everything trendy right? #sucky? I don’t even know. Urban Thesaurus was no help. #Fail! [Although its superior cousin, Urban Dictionary, will always hold a special place in my heart as it was arguably the single most helpful tool during my stint working with teens at Juvenile Hall, who opened my uncool eyes to a slew of delightful little street gems such as my personal favorite: “Booty Tickled.” Go on, click the link, you know you want to.] Can I please get a Millennial or someone hip to the current “young people vernacular” to chime in under the comments section and suggest a more contemporary term for future reference?)

Anyways, welcome to Part Two of Confessions of a Former Pharisee (if you haven’t read Part One, please take a few minutes to do so), where I’ve been telling the story of how Jesus enlightened me to my pharisaical state during a time of prayer with my pastor. The previous article ended with a cliff-hanger: an evil spirit had been blinding me to a crucial truth regarding my relationship with Jesus. Well hang on to that cliff no longer, because I’m about to tell you what this essential truth was. Ready? Here it is:

Jesus told me I needed new clothes.

What IS She Wearing?

Now, if you know me personally, you are probably agreeing with Jesus (generally a good thing to do). For the past four years (also, coincidentally, the age of my oldest child… Hmmm), I’ve been rockin’ a hot little look I like to call “I Give Up.” This truly effortless look consists of:

  • Blue jeans (classy!) or sweatpants (nasty!) tastefully paired with…
  • A tired, old, baggy T-shirt that may or may not be riddled with unidentifiable stains, wrinkles, holes, and/or pet hair… just depends on how fancy you wanna be that day, ya know?
  • Finished off by a pair of flip-flops or UGGs that predate my marriage (both are oh-so-wonderfully accommodating of that pregnancy induced “wide foot spread” which turned me from Cinderella into a real life ugly step sister who could no longer fit any of her super cute high heels).

Yes, I really just described myself to you, without exaggeration. So Jesus says I need new clothes? Praise the Lord! I’m 1,000% on board with that.

But in a rather disappointing yet obvious twist, Jesus didn’t mean I literally needed new clothes, but was speaking figuratively, about spiritual clothing. Oh. Sad face. Considering I had been spiritually blind, it’s not surprising my spiritual fashion sense would be a little… lacking? Wildly inappropriate? Whatever the case, my spiritual wardrobe was in desperate need of an update, and I was about to star in God’s version of “What NOT to Wear.”

Greaaaat…

My Makeover Freedom Session Continued 

To remind you of the context, I was in the middle of a “freedom session” prayer with one of my pastors. I was talking to Jesus about my problems with doubt, specifically concerning His ability to do powerful works in my life. Here’s how the conversation unfolded:

Jesus Shuts Me Down

“Jesus, why do I struggle with this doubt?”

Because you don’t know who you are, and you don’t know who I am.

Huh. This must be one of those, I know with my head, but not my heart type deals, because I was pretty sure I at least knew who Jesus was…

My pastor suggested I imagine myself on my knees before Jesus, and acknowledge that He is the Lord of my life. Moved to actually get on my physical knees before Jesus, I repeated her words.

Then she directed me to ask Jesus, “Jesus, will you take me to the Father?” What? What does that even mean? Honestly, this question still confuses me and seems a bit odd. Seems like one of those figurative, vague, metaphorical things. After some reflection, I can only assume it’s derived from John 14:6:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Maybe it’s some principle they teach freedom prayer facilitators in their training, that Jesus will always take us to the Father (God), I don’t know. Or maybe it was just some random, God inspired question that came to her mind. Regardless of its weirdness, in retrospect I don’t doubt it was prompted by God.

So I dutifully asked, “Jesus, will you take me to the Father?”

No.

…No..? NO?? Excuse me? What was that?! it couldn’t be Jesus…. right? This response was surprising, to say the least. A lot of times in these prayers, you kind of know what the answer is going to be. For example, if you ask Jesus if He loves you, of course He’s going to say yes. If you ask him to give you something in exchange for a “bad thing,” you can bet it’ll be something along the lines of a “good thing.” Like, you kind of already know the correct Jesus answer. But No? No I will not take you to the Father? This was definitely not the right Jesus answer!

Incredulous, I blinked in surprise, looked wide-eyed at my pastor and tentatively informed her “uhm, Jesus said… no?”

I paused for a few moments to collect myself, took a deep breath, and asked “Jesus… why not?”

First, you need new clothes.

He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him ” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” Zechariah 3:4

Ah. I see.

Jesus Gives Me New Clothes

Now I’m feeling slightly reassured. It’s not that Jesus flat-out refuses to take me to God, (whatever that means, all I know is that’s what I want because that’s the right Jesus answer), it’s just that something else needs to happen first.

Rather happily, I smiled and closed my eyes. This was something I could do! Now I knew where we were going. I pictured myself groveling before Jesus, dressed in filthy, threadbare rags, a humble and lowly heap, cringing as I handed him my sullied garments.

“Jesus, take my filthy clothes and-”

I want that one.

Without letting me finish my little exercise in self-deception and false humility, Jesus interrupted me, (He interrupted me!?) and pointed to what He wanted.

Suddenly I saw it. Not the filthy rags I had melodramatically imagined, but a beautiful, vibrant and ornate coat. Crisp and pristine. I knew instantly what it was: the Robe of My Own Righteousness.  

The illusion I had created in my mind of grandiose suffering and humility promptly deflated like a sad wrinkly balloon that had been pricked with a pin, its dying gasp a pathetic little whine: Huuhhheeeiiieee…fffffpppp…fffff…pff…pp…p..p…

Embarrassed and ashamed, I bowed my head in earnest. “Jesus, take it. I give you this robe of my own righteousness. Forgive me. What do you want to give me in exchange?”

From His own shoulder, Jesus handed me His own robe, white and pure beyond reason, and I gathered it about myself.

Rise. Now you are my friend. Now I will take you to the Father.

And I saw a picture of Jesus and I walking, side by side, down a path that disappeared into the horizon. I knew it would be a long journey, a journey spent walking and talking with Jesus. And that one day it will end with Him taking me to meet God the Father.

***

In the final letter of this three-part series, I offer my musings about how these experiences convicted me and contributed to my understanding of what it means to be a modern-day “Christian Pharisee.”

In the meantime, how about asking Jesus if there’s anything in your spiritual wardrobe that needs to go? Because His clothes are always better than ours.

Sincerely,

P.S. Don’t forget to leave your opinion below on the relevancy of #sucky! (Mom, here’s your chance. I know how much you despised that word when we used it growing up!)

4 thoughts on “Confessions of a Former Pharisee [Part 2]: My Outfit Sucks”

  1. First I think ‘suck’ works well. Not a very pleasing word but neither are the clothes we give ourselves. So it kind of suits the definition of our wardrobe before God intervenes 🙂 Second, thank you for being so honest! The best moments I’ve had in freedom sessions is when I stopped asking questions I wanted answered and let Jesus be Lord of my life and open my eyes to what really had been troubling my heart and mind. And he doesn’t leave me lacking. Now I’m encouraged to take my wardrobe to God and ask Him for His help; I need it.

    1. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment 🙂 I agree with you about how the best outcomes usually occur when we surrender our own agenda and simply follow along where Jesus leads. Personally, I find it comforting in some ways when Jesus responds in a way that is unexpected, because then it reassures me that it is actually Jesus I’m hearing, rather than myself!

  2. With the holiday, I had not had a chance to read this post until today! Boy, am I glad I made it a point! I love that Jesus doesn’t do or say what we expect all of the time. It’s an incredible reminder that He is His own person. I teared up a bit when He gave you His robe; even though it was like, OF COURSE He gave her His robe. I have had a number of unexpected responses/events during my freedom session prayers. I will definitely be asking Jesus about my spiritual wardrobe.

    p.s. Sucky is such a sucky word. Also, booty tickle was not what I thought it would be–it was far less offensive than imagined. 🙂

    1. Yes! Exactly! Jesus is his own person, which has become so much clearer to me as I’ve started speaking with him directly. Sorry to disappoint with booty tickled…have to keep it (relatively) unoffensive here though. Well, I choose to. Although it’s a struggle 😉

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