I promised transparency, so, here’s a little bit of that. I value being honest. Being true to who we are and facing our sin struggles head on. Sometimes it can be honorable to put our best face forward for those who might be a little weaker in the faith, but I also know that showing our weaknesses can make us more approachable. More relatable.
So, here it is. Today was not such a great day. It wasn’t the worst I’ve ever had, but I definitely fell short of hitting that mark we Christians aim for. That Christly life.
I think, what makes it harder is when we have a hard day right after having an exceptional day. Yesterday was an exceptional day. I felt inspired to write a blog article, and the positive response was more than I hoped for. It felt good to have a positive affect on a few people. I got a letter in the mail from my brother who’s in basic training for the United States Army. I had a good conversation with a loved one who needed faith-based support. I rocked the work-at-home mom thing which usually leaves my head spinning.
Today, it was like the pendulum swung in the totally opposite direction. Work was hectic. My computer died twice, and the work did not auto save right so I had to start over. My deadline was looming, I yelled at my kid and made him cry. Terrible. I uttered some profane words in the midst of this also. How can the mouth that speaks of God do such vile things?
In my stress, I ate too much junk food. I made assumptions about someone and spoke them out loud before I had all the facts, then later realized I was wrong. I fed my kids corn dogs for dinner (making home-cooked meals that are healthy is important to me. I get it though when parents can’t always do that. I don’t judge them, but for me it feels like a failure). There’s more, but though I want to be true and transparent, I also have to consider people who might read this and the affects the things I write might have on them. At the very least though, you can see a few ways in which today I was not the heart of Jesus I want to be.
And all this right after writing an article about wanting to be just that. What is up, Lord? Why were my spiritual defenses, or whatever you’d call it seemingly completely down today? I got my butt kicked.
But, you know what? I’m going to get back up. I’m going to seek Jesus and consider what I might learn from today. I’m going to thank the Lord for His immense mercy and patience, and seek to have those things worked in me also.
The Christian journey is full of good days and bad days. I do believe, and I have experienced myself, that the bad days do get less and less, and those great days come more often. I hope you understand though, what I mean by bad and great. I don’t mean this according to this world, but according to living up to that righteous life given by grace through faith in Jesus.
Someday, I expect to have the tools, given by Jesus, to deal with all manner of difficulties without becoming stressed out, fearful, angry, or despaired. I expect trust and faith in the Lord to override all evil. Someday, I expect to really be able to turn the other cheek. Someday, I expect to judge things righteously always and not be caught off guard by a situation or allow my emotions and past pains to cloud my vision. Someday, I expect to practice what I preach. Someday, I expect freedom from all hypocrisy and sin–tangibly speaking.
These are hopes of our salvation, and though we have days when we fall way short and days when we get a little closer, Jesus is always steady and true. He will carry us onward and upward. His grace abounds and his goodness works mightily within our weakness. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is the day of salvation. I will rejoice and be glad in it!
Transparency is awesome. I think the way some people approach Christian perfection is a little off center. I have followed you long enough to know your heart is in the right place, but reading this makes me wonder if your mind has been hijacked.
Let’s take a minute to talk about Peter. We all know that Peter denied Jesus to save his own sorry skin hours before the crucifixion, right in the very courtroom where Jesus was being condemned, as bold and and violently as possible. But did you ever stop to consider that Peter actually kept his word to defend and follow Jesus to the end, even if everyone else bailed out?
Consider the story this way: the guards from the Sanhedrin followed Judas to the Mount of Olives. Peter was the first one to speak up and say, “What are you doing?” Then when it became clear what was going on, he grabbed his sword and started attacking. The guards (trained soldiers) probably laughed when they watched this unskilled fisherman swing wildly until he finally connected with the only unarmed member of the enemy present. Even then, he missed the head and slashed the ear.
This is when The Lord finally speaks loud enough for Peter to hear. And does he hear, “Oh, nice shot! And thank you!” No. Peter is quickly and publicly put in his place.
Confused and emotionally exhausted, Peter and John follow Jesus. When they get to the courts, it isn’t Peter that has the connections to get in. He’s waiting on John to follow The Lord. All of Peter’s ideas about who or what Jesus is or how he’s doing whatever he’s doing are coming undone right in front of Peter’s eyes.
Peter gets called out on account of his accent. He belongs up there with the accused. But Jesus said no. Peter still isn’t sure what is going on, and in a panic he denies The Lord. Remembering the prophecy of this very denial, he has to retreat. The emotion is too much.
But look how far he followed Jesus! Right into the belly of the beast! Sometimes what you think is a failure of your Christian walk is actually standing in the courtroom with Christ. You can’t and won’t be convicted with him, but you are standing right there, in the belly of the beast, surrounded by enemies on all sides, known by your speach, seen that you should be with the accused, shivering in the cold, doing the best you can with what you have. And remember what came for Peter next: just when he was ready to give up and go back to fishing, Christ restored him.
Be Peter. Be Christ, like Peter is Christ.
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Hi! Thanks for that comment. I appreciate what you are saying, but I want to ask a couple questions before I respond to make sure I really get where you are coming from. In what way do you think the way some people approach Christian perfection is off center? In what way do you think my mind had been hijacked? Just to clarify 🙂
There are two extremes in two dimensions. In the first dimension one extreme are those who go off in one direction calling out every slip up every day. A practical example of this is young Martin Luther, who would visit his confessor several times a day, and sometimes left the concession only to turn right back around and walk back in with something he had forgotten. On the other extreme on this dimension are those who call for a general “oh, I screwed up” without any reflection on what they’ve done. The other dimension has an extreme of people building rules upon rules, making their walk with Christ a matter of following the rules. The other extreme on this dimension is those who say it’s all about “the relationship with Christ” (whatever that means.)
You have to remember that commands exist in a state of action-result pairs. Sometimes you have to parse out either the action or the result, but if we were to take a recipe as an example, it doesn’t say “add the butter first” for no reason. You might find out that if you add the butter second that it’s flakey instead of soft, and that sometimes you want that.
In the end, there is only one commandment, but it breaks along two dimensions. The commandment is love. On the one dimension, it is love God and neighbor. On the other, it is do to others as you want done to you and don’t do to others as you don’t want done to you. Everything else is commentary.
It sounds like you’re falling slightly towards the “I must follow the rules” and the “I must confess everything” end. The rules cause stress that hinder us sometimes.
I knew a couple once that used to hit each other with sticks. They had specific broom handles that they kept in a closet just for hitting each other. And this wasn’t sparring and it wasn’t love taps. One had been in the emergency room with a broken rib, the other with a concussion. They only got out the sticks when they had reached a point in an argument where they were so frustrated that they couldn’t keep the argument verbal. They had rules: they either both had sticks, or neither had sticks; neither could stop the other from getting the sticks; they couldn’t hot each other with anything other than the sticks (no fists, no frying pans) etc. It was their way of validating each other’s feelings, knowing their limitations, and (in short) loving each other.
Maybe what you need is to let go of the rules, just for a bit, and start bringing the rules back to a place where they actually help you build love in your life and home. Like someone who tests themselves for allergies: reduce the food to just water and cheese, then add in bread. If that breaks things, no more bread. If it makes things better, then keep the bread. Then milk. No milk? Time to learn to live coconut milk.
If home cooked meals are killing your relationship with your kids (I know that we’re talking about one day, but I’m sensing something deeper and so I’ll use the analogy I have) then start making more boxed dinners. Your kids will benefit more from a relationship than from a meal. If the computer auto-backup isn’t working, set a timer to hit save every five minutes. Make it easier where it needs to be easier and make more rules for yourself where you need them.
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I think we agree to a large degree. There is a healthy balance here some place. Actually, though, I try to steer clear of “follow all the rules” mindset — at least in a legalistic way. I believe there are laws in the kingdom of God, and we should live by them. However, I also believe these are given by grace though faith, not according to our abilities of failed righteousness. However, we live with a limited perspective, so we strive. It’s good to face our sins and “turn the battle to the gaits.” As long as we don’t overly despair and we keep an understanding that God is in control of our progress, and He will work good things is us in His good time. I hope that makes sense. Even so, making some practical changes, like the ones you suggest, is’t a bad way to go.
Legalism is, of course, falling off the map in that direction. It’s possible to get stuck in a rules mindset even when you realize that it isn’t connected to salvation. Legalism is taking that rules mindset and attaching it to salvation. Notice: Jesus defended his followers harvesting on the Sabbath, but he didn’t say, “That’s not harvesting!” He said, “Lots of people break the rules when it’s the right thing to do! Look at David! Look at the priests in the temple!” Jesus talks about cases where the rules were clearly and unarguably broken.
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This is true. I do get in that mindset of setting rules for myself, and they might not even be sin issues. Just my ideas of being a good wife, mom, etc. Thanks for the thoughts!
Excellent! Thanks for sharing, your honesty and hope in salvation is so encouraging. I think you’re right, as we press forward seeking the Lord the bad days become less and less and the good days become more and more. It’s great when you don’t let the bad days bring you down, but rather repent, turn around. Head to Jesus! I know what it’s like to head in the wrong direction.
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