I had a great workout today, a real heart thumper. I want to be buff, you understand. I’m not.

Still trembling from exertion, I yanked an old chair from the shed, unfolded it on the lawn, and sat back for an hour to tan my torso. I want it golden, you understand. It’s not.

A day in the life of a guy on vacation.

When the time was up, signaled by rivulets of sweat meandering from my pits, I undid my slouch and ambled inside. First stop? The mirror. Did the sun make a dent on my white skin? A little.

I have a confession to make. I’m doing this because God told me to.

What is it? Looking in the mirror, I thought of what I might look like to others. Whether someone would like what they saw. And God cleared his throat.

“Why do you care?”

Immediately, I knew the answer. “Because I want to be seen in a certain way.”

He presses in, focused and relentless. “Why?”

The answer that broke the surface at that moment surprised me. “Because I think my worth is based on how people see me.”

“And how do you want people to see you?”

“Spiritual, masculine, wonderful, wise, strong, loving, inspiring, handsome.” That’s my wish list, give or take. I’m humbled to admit it. Humiliated, even.

But there’s more, isn’t there, Brad? The question lingers, the answer dangling there in the living room of my heart like a familiar corpse, degrading the whole house with its distinctive stench.

God is pushing, prompting. I open my my mouth, and words tumble out: “It’s worse. Deep down, I want people to think I’m better than they are.” But I won’t resort to force, to bragging. No, I want them to come to that conclusion all by themselves. The awful reality of that statement sinks in, smothers me like a thick, wet tapestry draped across my shoulders.

But still, there’s more. Like a loving interrogator, God urges me to keep going.

If the last bit surprised me, the next bit disgusted me: “And what people are worth to me is often determined by how they see me.” In other words, if people don’t see me as spiritual, masculine, wonderful, wise, strong, loving, inspiring, or handsome, I have no use for them. Not outwardly, you understand. Inwardly. I love the people who love me—or even less, admire me. Yuck.

There it is. Not always, not everyone, every time, but it’s still real and dastardly. This is the layer beneath the layer beneath the layer of my personal onion, and I loathe it. It’s gross. It’s evil.

But this revelation also thrills me, not because of who I am but because God is Fathering me, convicting, changing, breaking me. Hear me clearly: I WANT to break. Desperately. If I don’t, I’m done for. This must die. Now. Forever.

That’s me.