Tuesday, October 19, 2010

30 Days of Truth, 8: Mean

Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell.

I suppose I could pick out several people who've made me miserable over the course of my lifetime, but the truth is that I'm my biggest critic. I don't think there's any one person who's been crueler to me than I am to myself.

Plenty of times I've felt guilty for legitimately doing something wrong. It's unpleasantly squirmy and will not go away until I confess (to a person, to God, or to myself) that I was wrong and try to make amends. Guilt is useful as a prod toward repentance. After that it becomes a corrosive acid that eats away at anything it comes into contact with. I tend to let it stick around and eat at me until I'm full of holes. But if guilt is a stone, God reminds me that I pick it up myself, when he's trying to get me to put it down. He typically reminds me of this when I go to him complaining that my arms hurt because of the heavy rock of heaviness I am carrying. And he never even rolls his eyes.

I have a habit of feeling guilty. My personality type and years of churchily-imposed restrictions combined to result in someone whose basic modus operandi is guilty. I never doing anything well enough, I'm weird, I have too many opinions, I'm mean, I'm petty, I should be trying harder, my ego is out of control, I'm lazy, I don't care enough, I care too much... it's endless. And it all points to the same insidious little thought: God is not pleased with me. And it's a lie. It's a terrible, terrible lie and, much as a child thinking that his parents were not pleased with him doing his best would, I'm sure that it breaks God's heart.

And yet the habit. I am a creature of habit in some regards and this vein runs deep. It was reinforced for years by the church (and I'm not talking about one church in particular) with constant reminders that you could be reading your Bible, praying, serving God, witnessing to people, going to church, thinking Godly thoughts, and doing good deeds more than you already were. You read your Bible for an hour every morning? Jack reads his for three, in the original Greek. I was caught in an endless loop of trying to please God by being who I thought he expected me to be, never living up to my image of who I thought I should be and never entirely happy with who I was.

I knew about grace. Everyone talked a lot about grace. But I don't think anybody really understood the concept. It wasn't until my idea of who I was and who I was supposed to be was completely shattered that I saw grace for what it is: freedom. There's a phrase from the Bible that I love: He [God] is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction. How typically human, that we have to be coaxed out of the jaws of distress and into freedom. We're like captive animals that have grown so used to our cages that we hesitate to leave when the door is opened. And yet God takes the time to woo us, he's not just opening the lock and letting us out, he's beckoning, pleading with us urgently to leave the prison behind and step into the spacious freedom of love. I wish I could live in that freedom all the time, instead of retreating to the safe, familiar confines of my cage frequently, but I know that he won't ever let the door be closed again. I am so grateful.

------------------- 30 Days of Truth--------------------

1 comment:

l i s e said...

Just wanted to say that I've been enjoying reading your recent flurry of posts. Sorry I don't have the headspace to comment clearly, but that's probably safer anyway ;).