#NoFilter: Sanctuary

Abigail Shaw-Bolen, Student Intern

“Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary;

Pure and holy, tried and true.

With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living

Sanctuary for You.”


It’s the song most often stuck in my head, most often hummed as I work, and most often (kindly) shushed by my husband. There’s something about the hymn that sticks with me.

Though I was raised attending three church services per week, it has taken until very recently for me to settle into God’s love. My family gave me the best foundation possible, but I think grace is the kind of thing you have to experience and claim for yourself. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least, to accept (I can barely cope with someone complimenting my outfit… How am I supposed to embrace the Creator’s love for me?). It requires me to be vulnerable and to recognize that my self-deprecation is not the same thing as the mature humility needed to take God’s hand and walk, but I am beginning to understand.

As I’ve grown more comfortable taking refuge in God, I’ve felt a push. Well, sometimes it’s less of a push and more of a shove. It’s a reminder that I am not here for myself, that God does not fill my cup for me to hoard, but to serve.

I’m sure most of you have heard of the #nofilter movement? The concept: followers on social media platforms are given a glimpse into the barefaced, authentic reality of another person. It’s similar to #nomakeup in that it seeks to dismantle the destructive ideals usually represented as the norm on social media. It’s a reminder that everyone is human and, therefore, flawed.

Sometimes, while I’m busy praising myself for coming to God with “no filter”, I forget to empathize with those who come to me exposed, raw, and honest.

I sidestep the anxious.

I brush off the upset.

I internally criticize what I see as oversharing.

And I fail to consider until convicted how hurt I would be if God viewed me that way. If my God wished to hold me at an arm’s distance, or held back cringes, or rolled Their eyes at my problems.

So I’m calling on the Lord to prepare me to be a sanctuary, to make me an instrument through which those who need can find refuge.

Prepare my cup to pour out daily.

Turn this little light of mine into a candle in the window.

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