You know that moment when you realize no matter how truthful you’ve tried to be (or thought you were being), you’ve been feeding your loved ones a big, old pie of lies? It’s that “how’d that slip in there?” moment; that “I can’t believe I said that” moment; the “why’d I say that it’s not true” moment. Yeah, I’m in all those moments right now.
Because I’ve realized I’m so full of it sometimes that you can smell the lies and hypocrisy from the next state over.
Now, I’ve tried to keep my blog posts on a narrow ledge between secular and religious, because I know some of those who read here don’t believe what I believe, but this post has a decidedly religious bent. For you who aren’t, I’ve found something else for you to read so you don’t feel like I tricked you – I already feel bad enough.
The Broken Spirit and Contrite Heart
Repentance is unpleasant. Oh, it works out all right and it’s part of God’s plan, but the actual feelings that come along – what the Bible calls “Godly sorrow” – aren’t so pleasant at all. So, by the time I’d reached the point of wanting… okay, needing… baptism, I was feeling pretty broken.
I’d reached the point where I realized I had no control over my life, that control was an illusion, and even wrote about the anger lack of control can cause. My hands have been tightly clenched around the imaginary reins of life for so long I think they’re stuck that way. In short, I can’t seem to let go and let God, even when I want to.
I’ve had a lot of problems with doubt. When God first opened my eyes, however, I found that my doubt wasn’t a blanket sort of doubt, as expected – oh no, I can’t do anything that might seem remotely normal. It didn’t cover everything. In between the fine weavings and interweaving of shaky faith, there were strong bits of iron hard trust.
I trusted God to provide. After all, He’d shown through numerous occasions that He was involved in our lives and has always taken care of my parents. When Dad mentioned a while back that he was worried about our survival after he died, I scoffed at him. “God’s always taken care of us, Dad. Why would He stop now?”
Ah, faith. Ain’t it grand? Yet, that’s where my trust stopped, and it’d been at a rigid standstill in that position for two years. Or, at least I thought, because I hadn’t taken the time to check in with myself.
When the minister suggested baptism counseling I jumped on it… and spent the next week in introspection and digging through the Bible to make sure I really had counted the costs. What I found out surprised me. I couldn’t actually find any place in my heart where I didn’t trust God.
– And I told the minister so.
He leaned on the table and smiled. “You know,” he said, “I know you’re feeling pretty submissive right now.” (me: nod, nod, nod, sniffle) “I think, however, that after baptism, you’re probably going to find yourself a lot less submissive to God’s will than you think.”
Submissive? Yeah – Right.
So, here I am, the newly converted Christian, happy as a clam on the beach (however happy they are). I’m getting my ducks in a row. My level of trust in God is at the nth power, and I’m completely submissive to His will and so on and so forth.
– Until two days ago, when the truth knocked me on the head and pointed out exactly how far off I am from where I thought I was. You know what? The minister was right.
Submissive? There was once, during a dark, five-year period of my life, that the word could have been applied to me. Before and after is a completely different story. My dad talks about how he quit spanking me after I turned about four or five, because I refused to cry (I remember a few spankings after that, but we won’t quibble). At 16, I told him, “Well, dad, I guess I’ll just have to figure out life the hard way.”
Point is, I’m about as submissive as a tiger that hasn’t eaten for a month and its favorite food is close by, fat, happy and ignorant. Throughout my life, I’ve been more headstrong and independent than a donkey and rhinoceros combined. It’s a jungle out there, and I’m just the animal to survive it.
Handing over control to anybody or anyone is a constant struggle. Allowing anyone else to be in charge of my life is so foreign to me that it’s one wisp of smoke in an already smoke-filled room. I can’t find it.
Why? Because… not so deep down inside, I still feel like I can do it. I still feel like I have the power to change things in my life. What else is that, but still feeling like you’re in control? –And, if being out of control scares you, than the only one you really trust is… you.
The Reality and Truth
Christ… man, He really had trust and faith. He knew, without a doubt, that things would work out the way God wanted them to. The Bible says He knew temptation – that He had the same choices we did. The only difference then, in my mind, was the Holy Spirit without measure. As a man, He was so scared as He prayed in Gethesmane that His sweat “became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
But, He trusted God. He believed with all His being that God was in control of His life. He was certain of it.
Me? You know, there’s been a lot of good happening in my life lately. A lot of change, a lot of growth, a lot of love and joy. The crazy thing is I’m a little backwards. When things go badly, I can readily accept those things as trials and tribulations to set my character. When things go well, however, that’s just life. I’m sure it all comes down to the doubt that God would actually take the time to help my life become better.
In other words, while I trust that He’ll chastise, I don’t trust that He’ll praise.
Odd. I’m 35 years old and having problems accepting in faith that my Father in Heaven is interested in my joy as well as my training. My dad is interested in whether I’m happy or not… why wouldn’t God be?
Eventually, I hope He’ll have mercy on this struggling human being and shed some light on the matter. Until then, it’s going to get painfully embarrassing, realizing over and over that I’m still a liar, and that, no matter what comes out of my mouth or my keyboard, my faith is still a “little” faith.
Father, I do believe. Please help mine unbelief.