Thursday, July 26, 2012

You've Got A Little "Crazy" On Your Face

I have always been confused by the concept of being "free from the power of sin and death", as Romans 8:2 boldly claims we are, and yet coming to terms with the fact that I still sin. On the one hand, I have absolutely no notion that it is even remotely possible or expected of us to be sinless. And yet, on the other hand, I think on some level, that is exactly what I expect of myself. And when I fail, as I inevitably always do, something breaks down inside of me that often sends me into a disobedient tailspin. And it looks a little something like this...
I'm really excited about________. (Insert given ministry event, small group gathering, or in this week's case, prayer and praise night being hosted at our home. These melt downs tend to occur in conjunction with an act of obedience/worship/service to the Lord, by the way.)
Things are going really well! The kids have been so great this week. My quiet times have been so special; I really feel like the Lord has been speaking to me. I don't care about all the silly, petty things of this world. My hope is in heaven. I'm really ready to spend some time with other believers, lifting up the things that will last for eternity. I love my family and I am so blessed to live in a great little house-- even if it is a little small. 
Today was tougher. The kids just aren't listening, I'm so tired, and I don't really feel like being patient or loving or gentle. When am I ever going to be the kind of mom I'm supposed to be? (You know. The kind that looks a lot like so and so. She certainly has it all together.) I'll try harder tomorrow.
Oh, why do I even try? I'm never going to live up to this impossible standard. I may as well just give up. The kids can watch videos today. I just need to veg out. (As I'm vegging out, I take a look around my house while simultaneously watching HGTV.) This house is so small!
(Start looking at rental listings online. Not finding what I hope to find. Melt down begins.)
(Luke comes home. I proceed to complain and pout. Decide that if dream home is out of reach, I will self-soothe with shopping and Starbucks. [Shamefully sighing and groaning now at petulance in the moment.]) 
(Fully aware of the fact that this behavior is unacceptable on so many levels, but all-in now; there's no turning back. [Did I mention that I'm quite stubborn?])
(Proceed to beat my husband over the head with every single thing that is wrong with this house and insist that moving is necessary. Get so worked up over a combination of frustrations with the living situation [some which are actually quite legitimate] and also the knowledge that I am running so far in the opposite direction of where I need to be with God and not quite sure how to stop the derailed train that I end up not being able to sleep-- for the second night in a row. [Did I also mention that I'm a little melodramatic?])
(Fully wallowing in it now...) I can't stand this house. I'm such a bad mother. I don't feel like talking to God. Who needs prayer anyways? I don't want to pray for our country. 
(Reflecting on my abominable behavior...) I'm so disgusting. What is wrong with me? I can't lead a prayer and praise night at my house this weekend! God can't use me. I'm such a mess. Even if I manage to get it all together again, that's so hypocritical! I can't just flip a switch and pretend like everything's fine and wonderful. I may as well just accept the fact that this is who I am and live like it; no sense putting up a fake front. (Did I mention melodramatic?)
Back to reality...

I tend to go through one of these tailspins just about every time I am preparing to serve in some way or engage in some kind of interaction with other believers. And I think this time, I've figured out why and maybe how to deal with it. And as much as I'm sure I will regret opening this door to my crazy brain for all of you to see, it is my sincere hope that (if you've stuck with me this far) these truths will help you to deal with similar situations when sin rears its ugly head in your life. Because as crazy as I feel sometimes, I can pretty safely bet that I'm not alone.

So, here's what I realized:
  1. Being free from the power of sin DOES NOT MEAN that I am free from sin. I'm going to sin. I'm going to have bad days. Some much (much) worse than others. This is not the end of the world. I simply need to repent, get up and try again. I cannot become so devastated and defeated over the beginnings of sin that I simply give up and give way to full blown disobedience. (Romans 7:15-25)
  2. Not living up to the ridiculous imaginary standards I have created in my head as a result of comparing myself to other women IS NOT the same as failing to live up to God's standards. I must stop trying to live in the image of other human beings and feeling like a failure when that (of course) does not work. I must, instead, strive to be fully ME in the image of CHRIST. I'm not like anyone else. I'm ME. And that's ok.
  3. Making a mistake (or ten or twenty-- you know... basically falling off the deep end) DOES NOT mean that those failures now define me. I am bought with the blood of Christ, and when the FATHER (the only one who actually matters) looks at me, HE SEES HIS SON! (Exodus 12:13Hebrews 9:13,14)
  4. I DO NOT have it all together. Ever. At any point in time. I think I have somehow adopted the notion that when things are going well, it is because I have somehow risen above the pettiness of this world and have managed to find truth amid all the lies. That is the most ridiculous notion I could ever concoct! I don't ever have it "together". I am human. There is no good in me. And any time that I appear to be collected, it is purely by the GRACE OF GOD, end of story. He is good, and sometimes, that manifests itself in me. If I can realize that and stop feeling like it is my responsibility to maintain that goodness, then I can finally be free to let God do the work and not feel like I have somehow failed when that "perfection" is not so easily attainable.
  5. Not only do I not have it all together,  but I absolutely must stop trying to maintain the image that I do. God does not require that I reach a certain level of "togetherness" before I am fit to do his work. God does not call the equipped; he equips the called! I have heard this said so many times, and yet, I have never truly believed it. And what's more, when I stumble and fall, when I am simply human, it does not make me a hypocrite to then continue with the work God has called me to. I am not being "fake"; I am simply a living example of what God is in the business of doing-- taking worthless, hopeless, sin-filled individuals and using them IN SPITE OF their immeasurable shortcomings. (1 Corinthians 1:25-31)
Regardless of how I end up in these messes, whether it's spiritual attack or just my own flesh getting in the way, I HAVE to remember these truths if I am going to survive, if my marriage is going to survive, if my family is going to survive, if my ministry is going to survive. I pray (yes, I'm still praying) that we would all let go of the false image of perfection, recognize that there is beauty in our individualities, and capitalize on the strength that God exercises IN OUR WEAKNESSES!

Let's all be a little less crazy this week. ;o)

2 comments:

  1. Lindsay TopmillerJuly 27, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    A friend of yours shared this blog on facebook today and it was exactly what I needed to read today. I myself have been journaling on my computer, and I just wrote about how I feel like I've failed too many times, and only know I'm going to fail again (in bigger ways than your complaining about your small home :]) so there's no hope for me. I feel like God has given me over to what my flesh truly desires: a life serving my own desires, not His. While at the same time, I cry out in desperation for him to rescue me from myself. I was once a girl on fire for God, feeling free from my old sins. Now I'm a girl giving into them again, believing it impossible that God would give me a 1000th chance at grace and a relationship - no matter how many times people try to convince me otherwise. But reading this really helped encourage me today, that maybe there is still hope, if I simply try again.

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    1. Lindsay, praise God! I am so glad that He ministered to you today through this post. And you're so right-- you absolutely CAN try again! He promises us in his word that if we are faithful to repent and to come running to him with a sincere desire to let go of our sinful ways, he will ALWAYS welcome us with open arms and help us to walk with him. He loves you so much! I pray that whatever you are struggling with, you will trust in God's goodness and give it another go. You are NEVER too far gone. He knows exactly where you have been and where you are going, and he will even use those acts of disobedience for GOOD if you let him! Thanks for commenting! God bless you!

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