I imagine that almost all of us, as Christians, have at some point in our journey of faith asked the Lord to give us more patience, only to realize soon after that while you were waiting for God to deliver this new gift to you, you got irritated at the person in front of you in line at the grocery store for having a gazillion coupons. That's the moment when you realize that when you ask God for something, He's probably going to put you in situations when you're going to have to use that gift you so fervently asked Him to bless you with. And then, if you're like me, you wonder why you asked for said gift in the first place.
I recently asked the Lord to help me learn to know the difference between my spiritual gift, discernment, and one of my character defects, judgement. Because our greatest spiritual gifts and character defects seem to be two sides of a coin, the thorn in our flesh which He will not remove, it seems more often than not extremely difficult to tell the difference between the two. I myself struggle immensely with understanding where discernment ends and judgement begins. There seems to be such a fine line and more times than I care to admit I blur that line to the point of obliteration and I don't even notice when I am no longer using my gift for His glory and instead creating a sinful mess of my heart.
But because of the grace of God, I am made anew in Him. He has given me that two sided coin for a reason. And though I don't know what that reason is, I know that what I'm finally wanting most in this life is to fulfill my purpose and to use the gifts that He has blessed me with to bless others. In order to do so I know that I need to allow Him to point out those ugly parts in me and help me as I struggle through letting them go.
This is much easier said than done. I am struggling. I am feeling the pain my character defects have created, but I am growing and I am being molded and shaped by Him, into the likeness of Himself. One character defect at a time. I am "accepting hardship as a pathway to peace." (Niebuhr)
It's an ongoing battle. One that I know I will struggle with this until the day I die. It is the thorn in my side. The pound of flesh I cannot shed. For to shed it would be to shed the wondrous gift He has blessed me with and the purpose that gift shall help complete.
And though I know that I am not perfect and I will never be so in this life, I also know that I can't give up on myself. I've done that too many times in the past. I have to give myself another chance... because He has. He gives me chance after undeserved chance. And as such, the least I can do is keep offering myself to Him, a piece of unsightly and misshapen wood, to keep allowing Him to whittle away the thorny, calloused parts of my heart until I am made whole and complete and wonderfully used for His purpose and in His gorgeous and glorious presence.