There’s a girl I’ve known for a good two or three years now. We’re ‘net friends – as the gamers say, we haven’t met “irl” (in real life). But there are certain things that can’t be faked for such an extended length of time. Eventually, e-buddies or not, if you spend enough genuine time around someone (provided they’re not phenomenal liars), you’ll get to know them. Perhaps not their mannerisms: how cleanly they keep themselves, if they’re prone to being more impulsive face-to-face. But from my experience, and if you pay attention, their core personality and their moral values tend to stay the same, whether you’re over the internet or face to face.
This particular friend of mine is a very high-minded person. When we first met, I thought she was rather emotional, even if I could (begrudgingly at the time) respect someone so outspoken.
As time passed, I came to appreciate her loyalty. As we spoke about more personal things, I was surprised by her passion for helping others – extending so far as to attempt to put herself through medical school to become an ER doctor, simply so that she could anonymously save lives. More recently, I’ve realized that this woman who so constantly belittles herself is both very self-motivated and academically excellent.
As our conversation turned to Christianity, something she hasn’t pursued since she was in her early teens, I was floored by her knowledge of Bible verses. This last week or two she’s texted me different verses around the concept of loving others as Christ has loved us. It’s all from the top of her head, as far as I can tell. I’ve been thrilled to find another friend to share this with.
The phrase diamond in the rough has struck me so, so many times lately when it comes to her, though. Here’s this girl who, from what I’ve seen and understand, most people steer clear of. She’s brash, outspoken – stuck in a small-time job and going to a community college.
But years of friendship have let me see glimpses of something more: a true friend, dedicated to the betterment of humanity, trying to show God’s love instead of shoving the Bible at people, intelligent, witty, willing to take criticism for the sake of making herself better.
I can’t help but wonder if that is almost like how God sees us. Not in the specifics, of course; everyone is different, and their good qualities shine through in different ways. For example, I would not call my husband charitable as my friend is, but he is steadfast and resolute in a way I have not seen from anyone else yet. While he is slow to make decisions, once he makes them, he will stick with them until the end of time – frustrating in its own right, but profoundly reassuring when it comes to our marriage (and, perhaps, to faith, should he come to Christ).
No – I wonder if God sees us all as diamonds in the rough. After all, He created us in His own image. We are all made with our own strengths and purposes – the Body of Christ must have different members.
But sin and this world casts what God created into imperfection. We are not as we were created to be; that is the entire point of Christ coming to earth. We were not made to suffer, to feel pain, to die – that came as part of the curse of Man’s fall and separation from God. But we do. We have become ‘in the rough’. Our brilliance has become imperfect, dim, covered in the dirt and grime of this world.
A long time ago, I was talking to someone about how God intended us to be perfect, and that in Heaven, we would be. Their reply was something along the lines of “I don’t want to be perfect, though. That’s completely boring – I wouldn’t be myself. I’d rather be in Hell and remain true to myself.” At the time I was so flabbergasted that I had no idea what to say – and I wasn’t sure if anything I could say would be true.
I believe, at the time, I had an inkling to the fact that we would still be ourselves in Heaven. Over time, and in the back of my head, my response to that has evolved.
Just like a diamond in the rough, we’re not perfect. We’re a diamond, all right – but misshapen, covered in grime, uncut, unable to shine properly. And in a way, I cannot blame the person I was talking to for thinking the way they were; I’ve thought similar, myself. I am myself, faults, grime, and all; I’m imperfect, and making me perfect is going to take away all of my imperfections, make me something I’m not; turn me into one of those church-going snobs or some dull, drab adult who doesn’t know how to laugh at a good joke or run amok in the rain.
And perhaps, in a way, it’s true. If a diamond is cleaned and cut and polished, it’s losing a lot of itself. It will no longer look as it did – except, perhaps, to someone who knew what they were doing, maybe only to the crafter himself. But I raise you a question: isn’t it the same diamond? To which the reply would most likely be “Yes… and no.”
In the end, it is the same substance – cut of the same material. However, it does not look the same, and is missing a lot of it.
So another question: Isn’t the cut and crafted diamond, well, better? When it is cut and cleaned, you can use it. If not for jewelry, then for saws or drills, or even just to admire when the sun hits it just right and it explodes into color. A diamond in the rough might be pretty, might be a diamond – but not until it is crafted can it truly shine.
I like to think of us in the same way. We are all made in God’s image – but so submerged in dirt and grown in the wrong direction that we’re really rather helpless. It takes a true craftsman to look at an uncut diamond and figure out where, precisely, it must be struck (and, I imagine, this process is different for any diamond due to fault lines and so forth), what must be cut off, how best to polish it.
It is a painful process. And the diamond cannot cut and clean itself, no matter how hard it tries – neither can we. We must go to our Crafter and let Him do the work for us; all He asks is that we be willing to be changed to what He knows will be best.
But, in the same way, when we come out of the process, when we are in Heaven, when we are finished and complete, it is only then that our true nature shines. Clean of the muck of this world (which we would gladly hang on to), we will become who we truly are. Not some mindless automation. We are still made of the same stuff.
It’s simply that we’ll be even better – and made perfectly to refract the Light of this world, to make it even more beautiful.