When I was thinking about reviving this blog, I considered subtitling it “Diary of a two-face liar.” I decided not to saddle the whole site with the mood of the day, and really, it would have been too self-congratulatory, especially coupled with “Clever Dialectic.”
I considered the subtitle not purely out of self-pity. I have a troubling propensity to lie to myself, and, by extension, to others (though I would say I do not). It is usually months before I even realize I have been practicing deception. I cannot tell you how many times in a day I vacillate between thinking that I generally like my job and that it is good experience for me, and thinking that my job makes me miserable and is just sucking out my spirit one sip at a time. The jury is still out on which face is the liar on that one.
I did recently discover one lie I’d been practicing. In one request I pray without ceasing, I have an admitted bias, so that I often say also, “Not my will, Lord, but yours be done.” And I do not merely mouth the words; I look at the request, I hold it up before my mind, and I say: “This may not be. God has not promised this.” So I say further, “Lord, I know I cannot change my will to be your will; you must change it for me. Change my heart to be like yours, so that I may be content in your grace.”
But it struck me one day, just popped out like a traffic light changing color, that I was pulling some very quick sleight-of-hand; in the same motion where I conjured my desired end and said “This may not be,” I removed the desire itself to a shadowy corner. God may have the right not to do this, but I still have the right to want it.
And I also knew why I was doing this. To give up on this would be to give up on my self, or on anything about me that had value. The flesh and bones might remain, but that soul which gives mere flesh any worth could not abide the passing of this dream. Thus it followed that the dream had to be preserved, even for God’s sake, because I cannot be God’s servant if I am not:
No one remembers you when he is dead.
Who praises you from the grave?
And yet of course it is obvious that God requires this very thing–that we die, giving our lives to him, that he might give back to us eternal life. And also of course, even realizing this, it did not make me any more able to give up on myself. I could only say, “Yes, Lord, I am holding back my life from you. Take it from me, because I cannot give it to you.”
That is the end of the story. There is no marvelous transformation to report. But it seems right and worthy to mention that in leading up to these events, I have better kept a schedule of meeting God than at any other time I can remember. Not that this is a cause for boasting, but to note his faithfulness, in granting to me a little more grace in this matter. For it is not that anything has changed which I could actually point out to you, but that the benefit is nonetheless felt. I do not think you would be reading this, or many of the previous posts of these last few days, unless my spirit were somewhat restored to me. Put in another context, I go through the same travails at work that I have been going through, the same cycle of success, frustration, anger, and gloom, but it seems to me that somehow I have a little more left at the end of the day.
For this I am very grateful. But a season does not last, and I know that this is not a place to stay but a place from which to grow. Oh, draw me, Lord.
“I have a troubling propensity to lie to myself, and, by extension, to others (though I would say I do not).”
Yes, well, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure, who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9) That verse wasn’t written only for you, so don’t think that problem is something particular to yourself.
Does it matter?
We are all imperfect in our reading between the lines, but I sometimes think I detect a tendency in you to think that you are somehow “worse” than others. I sense in you a propensity toward self-pity, at least as far as your “spiritual status/knowledge/wisdom/success/ etc” perhaps not so much regarding your physical situation(s)–not to accuse you of indulging in that presently, but it was the thought behind my comment.
While being aware of our weakness and “judging” ourselves is good, it can become self-centered navel gazing act where rather than centering our lives on the sufficiency of Christ we become consumed by our insufficiency.
I see Dad struggle with this, and in some ways I see you struggling with some similar temperamental weaknesses.
Perhaps a shorter way of saying all this is to say that you said, “I considered th subtitle not purely out of self-pity” and my response was saying, “Be careful how much self-pity you let in”