You know those times when you can’t wait to share your testimony because of the big things God has recently done in your life? How everything fell into place and you understood his work and saw his blessings? Those are amazing moments and I love reading about them.
Then there are these times. These are the times I don’t feel like we ever really write about.
Right now I don’t feel like I’m growing at all. I feel like I’m failing at Christianity 101. I’m in an immature rage at someone for being who she is. I’m rehearsing all the reasons I’m right. I’m carefully noting each new infraction, fresh evidence of her ineptitude. I’m totally failing at forbearance, patience, kindness, mercy, self-control and love.
I’m failing on the character front so what do I have to offer anyone else right now? Sympathy that trying to be mature totally sucks? Yeah, I can at least do that!
I can admit that I want to hang onto my anger and nurse my wounds. I want to tell everyone about all these injustices and get them on my team. I’m reading a book right now called Relationships: A Mess Worth Making and it’s totally kicking my butt. It says stuff like, ‘Sinners respond sinfully to being sinned against.’ Gah – do I have to admit that’s true? It’s holding up some kind of Dorian Gray mirror to my soul. Turns out, I’m hiding so much more ugliness on the inside than I thought. Just scratch through that good Christian veneer and you’ll see it. Turns out the subtext to a lot of my ‘wise Christian’ perspectives is really about having everybody admire how I think.
Last year, my husband and I read The Prodigal God by Tim Keller. Another one of those convicting books. It was so sobering to realize that I am the older brother. The one who has never known anything different, but manages not to know his Father very well at all. The one who resents love being lavished on less worthy people. The self-righteous demanding one. Grace and Mercy? Lip-service at best.
I know somewhere deep down that this current situation is likely the grueling type of heart work that does actually bring about some measure of maturity in a person but since I’m still heavily resisting it, I can’t tell you yet that I’m grateful for it. I feel a bit like my one year-old son. Crawling is working for him. Why would he need to walk? He just can’t understand why we’re trying to push him to the next level with prompts to walk to us. I don’t really want to go to the next level either.
That’s where I’m at. I can’t tie it up with a bow. There aren’t three tips. No easy conclusions. In fact, no conclusion at all. Will I come out on the other side with more humility and a softened heart towards those that ‘get in my way’? I’m not even sure I hope so.
I know God won’t let me get away with that. And I’m making the effort to do the right thing even though I don’t feel like it. Fake it till you make it isn’t really the worst advice I guess. Obviously head knowledge about mercy wasn’t really enough to get the concept ingrained into me so practicing my way into a real understanding of mercy is probably the only way to do it.
If you’re in a similar spot today of knowing the right thing but not really wanting to practice it, you’re not the only one! I’m trying to trust that even my prayer of “help me want to change my attitude” is enough for God to do the work in me. I definitely can’t do it myself. Maybe we can walk together? I’d love to hear your struggle. Share below and we can learn together.