I had this plan of writing a short story on the blog, at a rate of a thousand word chapter per post with a new chapter being published twice a week. Sounded like a great plan, save one caveat, I don’t think that is what I am supposed to be doing with this forum. For the past couple of weeks my friends have been encouraging me that they find this blog most compelling when I am being honest about what I am going through in my life, and what I am learning as a result. I was resistant to this idea, because I wanted to put out content on this blog on my own predetermined terms, and as such I would be honest when I wanted to be honest and be creative when I wanted to be creative, and all else be damned. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while your initial thought might be, “He really is a slow learner”. The answer to the question you have in your mind is, “Yes, we do share that in common”. So I started on the story, and it was going well, and I was on pace to put out two trouble-free non-introspective chapters a week. What a relief. Then, while I was sitting in church this past Sunday…it all smelled like bullshit. I’ll continue to write that story, but it’s not for here.
John chapter 9 verses one through three is a passage in the Bible and it reads like this, “And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Later, Jesus heals the man with some spit, and dirt and a little rinse in “the pool of Siloam” (which means, Sent). This was a part of scripture from which my friend Jefro preached at the church I attend, Seaside, last Sunday.
This cut me to the quick.
I am the disciples.
It doesn’t matter whether I am trying to discern the reasons for someone else’s struggles, or my own; the idea that God is using tough circumstance to establish His kingdom on earth, is the last one that I entertain. If something goes wrong in my life I automatically jump to the conclusion that either I or someone else has done something to cause my immediate consternation. Generally, I default to someone else. If something tragic happens to someone else I determine that it had to be a result of something that they did. This is my starting point. Through the grace that God has given to me and has revealed in my life, this has a tendency to give way to the truth of the situation. The truth revealed in the preceding scripture reference. Why is this my starting point? Self-preservation through self-righteousness. If I can create a narrative where-in the whole of life’s foibles are created and perpetuated by human failings, I can then reverse engineer a foible-free life. Problem solved, NEXT! This idea is perfect in every detail, save one, its accuracy. Simply put, it is not true. Save two, actually, the other problem with this thinking is it focuses too much on the concept of introspection as a path toward enlightenment.
Introspection is a great discipline in which to engage, but it is a means, not the end. In the midst of looking within to determine why we do what we do, we must never determine that the answer lay there. We can notice our struggles, but it is our Creator who possesses the necessary tools to make significant change, and to give that change “legs”, as it were. As my Pastor, Jefro, says–and I’m paraphrasing– “It’s not a matter of determining that I am impatient so I need to work on my patience, build more patience, and through that I become patient. It is a matter of realizing that I have a problem with patience, I don’t know how to fix my lack of patience, but I know that I can trust God with my lack of patience, and His plan to make me into His likeness which will include being more patient.” In the latter scenario it is God who receives the glory. In my life the message translates thusly. The idea that “I don’t like myself because I have some short-comings to button up, but in three months when I conquer those moral failings I will really like who I am”, is a lie. The truth is, with regard to my moral short comings, I can trust God with them today, and they’ll no longer posses the power to torment me.
In light of these truths, the question of why I do the things I do becomes less important than the idea that this IS what I do, but I serve a God who can deliver me from doing it, and not only from doing it, but from wanting to do it…this is truly good news. How does this apply to my own particular flavor of home-spun arseholery? (Note: spell-check thought the word I was shooting for was leaseholder) What indeed.