“All of us are weak and frail; consider no man more frail than yourself.”
Thomas á Kempis
Some days, being joyful is the easiest thing in the world. In fact, it’s something I’ve always prided myself on. The trait which I always believed I embodied with my very existence.
But it’s not always easy.
I tend to hide myself behind a smile, brush off suffering with well-timed platitudes and well-wishes masquerading as spiritual truth. I tend to say things like “Jesus is the only desirable thing in me, let him be the only thing I desire” without practicing what I preach. Because, in truth, what I really desire is to be liked. To feel like I add value to someone else’s life. To fight back overwhelming waves of crippling doubt with empty rhetoric.
I talk about things like sexual purity and honest accountability as if I am far removed from the need of it, as if immorality is just a blip lost on the early years of my timeline.
I talk about loving scripture as if I am always fervent in my devotion to studying it.
And I talk about kindness as if its something I never choose not to practice.
Somewhere along the way, in pursuit of the truth of the Gospel, I have lost sight of my own frailty. And then some tragedy or disappointment comes along and exposes it, as if holding a mirror to me reflecting the ugliness inside. I forget my weakness and bask in the strength I have…or the strength I used to have anyway.
So I sit in my own lack of joy clinging to the hope that, someday, I will be whole again. Forgetting that thing I claimed about Christ being the fulfillment of all I am incapable of.
I lean on my goodness instead of His.
I lean on my own understanding instead of His.
I cling to the hope of discovering peace of mind on my own instead of resting in the peace Jesus offers.
And I become what I most despise–a fraud in pursuit of the next high (in my case, in feeling happy.)
The last few weeks have been suffocating. Between shutting myself off from others and trying, yet again, to figure out what is left for me to do here before graduation, it has left me in a funk. It has left me empty. And thinking about graduation is finally becoming scary. Thinking about what happens on the other side of the stage, once I jump out into that big world with only small pieces of a plan in place. It terrifies me.
And it would be so easy to blame on my unhappiness on that. It would be taking the simplest approach to claim that graduation and beyond is why I shut myself down so much this semester. But that’s not even it. It’s that I don’t often want to relinquish control and I find myself in predicaments where my will is in contrast to that of God’s.
And I suffer.
We suffer because we pursue freedom by the abuse of our own frailty, selfishly thinking that’s what best.
But I am made perfect in weakness, because God’s strength is made perfect in it.
In Christ, I can give up the desire to be in control of my life and be okay with that.
In Christ, I am made free, so why do I pursue my own bondage?
All the things I’ve talked about throughout my life, about fighting for joy, about loving scripture, about sexual purity and accountability, about desiring Christ. Those are all good things, but the posture of my heart to those things is more pivotal than I often assume. I can’t approach those things arrogantly, or else they become empty spiritual rhetoric. Only when I truly grasp humility, which seems to be the most difficult thing for me to do, will I truly desire Jesus more than I desire the dirty reflection of myself in the mirror, will I see the truth of the Gospel’s effect in my life–that Christ has done what I could not, cannot do.
Only in Christ can I experience the type of freedom I long for.
The freedom to be His.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.(Romans 7:21-25, ESV)