the flowers through the weeds

The Flowers Through the Weeds: A Lesson on Sanctification

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The original version of this article was published in June, 2023 on Learning to Breathe.


Sanctification. It is a process that one would wish would be easy. A process that one wishes they could learn with some simple letdowns here and there and some mistakes made.

If only the sanctification process could be like a mother calling one’s child back into the house for not letting their younger sibling have a turn on the swings, with a gentle reprimanding then a pat on the head of the older sibling at fault then sending them back outside to play.

However, I have found that is not the case. 

Sanctification is a painful process that gets into the nitty gritty.

It happens in one’s ugly moments and sparkling moments. However, the process is clearer in the nitty gritty.

When you get a good look at your heart, hold it up to a magnifying glass and go, “Oh flip! That’s UGLY.” It’s the words you wish you could take back but can’t, the actions you want to undo, the bitterness and jealousy that can easily seep in when you scroll through social media and the overall thoughts that creep up that tell you, “life is ALLLLL about YOUUUU.”

All of our hearts carry these things whether we like to admit it or not. 

A famous pastor and author who sadly passed away this past summer, Timothy Keller, once said, “You are far worse than you think you are but you are far more loved than you could ever imagine.

I first heard this quote when I was in college. “What?! What do you mean?” “I’m kind, I don’t yell, I’ve always followed the rules all of my life for the most part, what do you mean I’m worse than I think I am??” My naïve 20 year old self thought to herself.

And oh, as I grew in my knowledge of my sin over the years and found myself in positions where I couldn’t hide or stop what was in my heart from seeping out, did I begin to see exactly what Keller was talking about. 

Now, you may be reading this and be going, “Gee thanks Amy, where’s the encouragement? Where’s the self-positivity message? Where’s the love and affirmation?”

The thing is though, we cannot truly accept ourselves or love ourselves until we have an understanding of who we are, including the ugly.

Until we understand that we are massively flawed and we are, at our nature selfish beings, we cannot have a proper view of ourselves then to see how worthy of love we are. 

The thing that turns us around and helps us love ourselves is that second bit in what Keller said, “BUT you are far more loved than you could ever imagine.” 

That’s where God’s love comes in. God’s love for us as we are that will never leave us nor forsake us.

When we have an understanding that despite our fallen nature, a supreme and all knowing, sovereign God has decided to give us a chance to have heart changes and to be accepted into His kingdom simply because we exist and for no other reason; it’s humbling. 

We don’t have to do a dang thing and He’s like, “I love you.”

As humans we are incapable of love without ulterior motives, we can go into our relationships with others all with the best intentions of being selfless, sacrificial, forgiving and compassionate, but eventually the ugly seeps out.

Our feelings get hurt, we feel misunderstood, we feel misheard, we feel less valued, we turn toward a mindset of “I did this for you so you owe me ___”.

The “me me me” monster surfaces that is hidden within us.

While there is nothing wrong with acknowledging our needs and communicating them in all our relationships (platonic and romantic), we can find at times we lean toward making it too much either about ourselves or the other person.

When we do either, we do not have a proper view of self love. We are either operating out of self-indulgence or being overly self-sacrificial.

However, when we see ourselves as we are but that despite what we are, we are loved deeply by an all-knowing and all supreme God, we can have an accurate view of ourselves which in turn, helps us to see others in a more accurate light.

We are not dependent on anyone to fill us fully for love nor on ourselves to be that to someone else. 

It is in these realizations, that the *sanctification process* (The process of being made to look like Jesus) can begin to take shape.

As we fall short of being perfect and fail to see perfection in ourselves, we are brought closer to Him.

It can be painful at times to come face to face with your own heart to really see the ugliness of it, but when you have those moments, you have a choice: You can choose to live in despair and “woe is me, I’m the worst” or you can choose to see it as a chance to grow.

You can hold the magnifying glass and peer closely into the weeds and broken pieces and say, “Ok this doesn’t look good. Actually, it looks pretty awful, but thanks be to God for though I am a sinner, He has loved me immensely and has given me His Holy Spirit to help grow flowers in these weeds.”

And I believe that the more we see that and accept that, the more we can begin to allow change to take shape not only in what we look like on the outside to others, but even in the gunk and muck that resides within our hearts. 

I hope that was encouraging to you in some way today.

Remember you are more flawed than you realize, but you are loved so deeply by an all infinite and all knowing beautiful God.

There is nothing that you could ever do to make Him love you any less.

He knows you better than you know yourself. He holds you even when we or others fall short from helping us feel loved and accepted.

He holds you in your loneliness. He holds you when you feel others can meet you where you are at and He holds you when you are surrounded by others and living in a vibrant community. 

May His unending and enduring love, give you a peace that surpasses all comprehensible understanding today and give you the courage to pick up the magnifying glass and take a closer look.

You can check out Amy’s Book: Accepted and Adopted: A Woman’s Journey to rid herself of an orphan mentality and accept that she is indeed, a child of God on Amazon.

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