My thoughts have become soiled, clearly displaying the filth and grime of my own desires and sins for all who look. That filth varies in form: oozing, flaking, submersing, coating, smudging. I gaze upon what I once believed were the robes of my righteousness, shocked by the repulsive rags that reveal the sins I had thought were good works. And as I look upon the rags, I realize that I am not the only one who can see them. As robes, I dressed myself in them, proclaiming my (supposed) righteousness—but instead they flaunt my folly. I freeze in fear, a million and two possibilities coursing through my mind of means to hide my shame. I begin to despair as I come to understand I cannot remove the rags; I am destined to parade my shame to all for eternity.
Now frail, I shrivel up into myself and am carried away by my sins. I crack and fade in the Light as the filthy rags adorning my body consume my vision. I break off from the life to which I clung so tightly—it is time to let go and move on, anticipating the hope of future restoration. I drift to the ground and find myself no dirtier, but discover a sense of acceptance.
The season will turn, and I find I will once again return to the tree, but this time I am not clinging. I am held and growing. I look down, expecting to catch sight of the filthy rags I have come to accept, and my words fade out of my mouth. I am speechless. Instead of my rags, I am clothed in the purest white garments, both beyond beautiful and at the same time entirely average. I know in my heart of hearts that no action, word, or thought of mine has transform me. Regardless of me, You took my rags from me, clothing Yourself in them, and nailed them to the tree to which I so forcibly clung.
Now I rest in the grace granted me, comfortable in my filthy rags, for I know they exhibit who I am currently, but not who I am to come. My true comfort lies in knowing that my shortcomings are not my identity. Christ is.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags: we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” ~Isaiah 64:6