Feb 20, 2014
I'm No Good at This
"I feel like I've become someone I didn't quite used to be."
That was the thought that hit me as I looked up into the mirror. I was washing my hands in that strange, removed window of time after just taking the Lord's Supper and before picking Annika up from her kid's church.
And it was weird because even though it's "someone I didn't quite used to be," it's also true that I'm becoming more and more like myself - like, my natural self. My wobbly, needy weaknesses. My selfish, isolating tendencies. Its all truly and naturally (and unfortunately) me.
The fruits of the spirit will obviously only grow with abiding in the Spirit, which if we're being honest - I'm not. So why did I expect them to thrive? I've wondered at where unconditional joy has run off to. Felt frustrated that peace seems to come and go easy, like Seattle rain. I've chastised myself for being so easily affected by irritations and offenses and reminded myself over and over again about the love, patience, and kindness of Jesus.
All those good things, they seem so easy to attain and yet so hard to maintain.
Because I have access to them, but they are not mine. They are not of me.
If I don't submit my time and my heart (and my mornings?) back into the light of God's word and his presence, if I stay in the comfortable shadows (like, literally, in bed), I will become frighteningly more and more like myself and less like him.
It actually seems unrealistic, that such a monumental shift could happen - that the very depths of my character and personality could ebb and flow based simply on whether or not I'm reading my Bible consistently or making time to journal and pray. And yet - here we are. Here is reality in those shadows.
And then, at the same time, here I find myself in the reality of some kind of transcendent, unrealistic patience that is waiting for me. These fruits inside me, this Spirit, so real and so alive that even in a slow, fading-ember-like death they would speak. They would hunger and growl like an empty belly wanting bread.
And I wonder how on earth God might keep loving someone like me. Why would he allow me so many strikes, so many chances... so much forgiveness?
It honestly feels good to wonder something like that.
Because it's finally something worth marveling at. It's finally something that deserves my shock and doubt and disbelief because it is indeed way too good to be true. Its the most unrealistic aspect of Christianity: this part where I wander, disconnect, ignore and God waits, whispers, pursues.
He loves me and wants me close so that I can thrive and know life and be light.
Of all my unbelief and selfishness, there is finally this that I say "how can that be true?" and it rings clear like a trumpet. Like the arrival of something so worthy that other thoughts and emotions and unbeliefs move aside. They bow down to make way for the truth.
The truth is that my slow wandering in and out of submission to him, in and out of the disciplines that teach me of him, in and out of the sacrifices that I could be making... they are nothing but testament to his bottomless patience with me. They serve to reveal how not awesome I am at this righteousness thing, and they proclaim how fully his kindness (and only his kindness) bridges the gap between us.
It is a scary sense of entitlement in me that knows this about him and therefore fears no wrath for my lazy wandering.
And that entitlement? It's just one more little part of "me" - the natural, without-God part of me - that grows and grows like a weed.
So I pull it up again, like I often try to do on those quiet, rainy afternoons when I stare out the window and wander back into conversation with him. But this time I'm digging my feet in. Into the submission that is freedom and the disciplines that are growth and the sacrifices that bring life.
I'm digging my feet into writing, journaling and blogging, into cracking open the Bible every day and lighting that volatile little match that longs to burn again.
I'm digging my feet deeper into the humility that knows - I'm no good at this. But he is.
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