I love it when Paul says in Romans 7:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
That kind of describes the human condition, doesn’t it? Struggling with what we know is right and wanting entirely do what is right, yet we do what is wrong time and time again? I wish I could always obey the small, quiet voice in my head that is my mother, God, my conscience, or the part of me that is really trying to please those who think I’m perfect (ha!). But I never do.
I was reminded by a friend this morning of something I had forgotten, and I had been struggling against it up until she said something. She said off-handedly “I try [speaking about being a “good” Christian]. I really do. And then I get discouraged because I think I’ve let God down. But then I feel stupid, because seriously, ‘I let God down?!’ Like the God of the universe was counting on ME?!” Note the excessive inflection. I love her to death for her candid enthusiasm for life. I sat there and chuckled, because she hadn’t known what was running through my mind as recent as last night, and God had just used her words to comfort my heart.
I’ve spent the last two days stressing. It’s what I do when work is boring or there’s no one around to talk to. I stress. I have a lot of things up in the air right now, so I was freaking out about all of the unknown variables. But then God showed up in a another friend’s life last night, and I had the privilege of being one of the first people she decided to share it with. As she told me, I became overwhelmingly aware of God’s power and mercy. I sat there and sobbed for an hour, crying out to God, apologizing for my lack of trust and faith in Him. He had just moved a mountain in my friend’s life, and I was whining about car repairs. I remember saying to Him, “I’m sorry for letting you down.”
Then, over a cup of hot coffee with the first friend this morning, God reminded me through a few simple exclamatory sentences of how I should feel about my thoughts and actions. And I had to apologize again, but for better reasons than the first time. Sometimes I feel like a toddler in my relationship with God. I’m always crying, always running into things, and I often stare at the big world with wide-open eyes like I’m seeing it for the first time.
But like Paul, I don’t always understand what I do or why I do it, because often what I want to do and what I do are two different things. Often what I know I should be thinking (I can’t let God down because He is not depending on me) and what my gut reaction is (I’m sorry I let you down again!) are two different things. But then God, as my father (though I prefer the more technical term “Daddy”), in His quiet and gentle nature corrects me and forgives me, and I’m humbled.