Monday, February 22, 2016

Wallow or Fight

In every trial, large or small--whether a one-time instance of being sinned against, or an especially difficult season of life with no end in sight--there comes a crucial moment. Actually, it doesn't come just once, but dozens of times. It is the moment when you recognize you might actually not be sinless in this mess: when you realize at some deep level of your heart, in some small part of your mind, that there is a significant difference between what God says is true and what you are thinking or feeling. It's the moment when you see that the problem is not only others' sin or out-of-control circumstances, but also your own unbelief.

In that moment, you are faced with a choice. You can continue to rehearse the laments ("vent")--to your journal, your husband, your best friend, or just on an endless internal loop. You can dwell on the potential miseries, feed the fears and the resentment, preach to yourself about how much you suck or how wrong the other person is or how awful this is going to be.

Or you can fight. You can let go of your plans, surrender your emotions, settle into what IS rather than what you wish life were. You can't fight a week-long or a six-month or a ten-year battle, but you can put on your armor and fight for joy--fight to believe truth--today.

When I come to this critical realization, there's a little part of me that doesn't want to give up the wallowing yet. Sometimes I just want to keep stewing in a big ol' pity party for a while. More than that, I think I fear that choosing to fight means pretending that these emotions weren't real and deep, that it doesn't really hurt. But...I can acknowledge them as powerful and real without being ruled by them. And reality is, wallowing doesn't accomplish anything. It doesn't change the situation, and it doesn't make facing the trial any easier. In fact, you could argue, just the opposite.

Fighting, on the other hand--that changes everything. It means you will get beat up, even face the agony of defeat at times (though this is made bearable knowing you will never face ultimate defeat because victory has already been won by Christ!). It doesn't mean being Pollyanna, slapping on your shiny, happy Christian face and pretending. It means gritting your teeth and digging in your heels and clinging to Jesus with all your might. It means repenting; it means crying out "I believe, Lord--help my unbelief!" It means preaching to yourself about how God sees and loves you in your unlovable mess, how Jesus' blood covers all the ways you suck, how all this is going to be a *beautiful* mess because it's going to be used for your good and God's glory. Guaranteed.

For me, it means being vulnerable and humble with my husband and other trusted friends, asking them to fight for me, relying on them to hold up my trembling arms as Aaron and Hur did for weary Moses, to hold up their shields of faith when I cannot keep mine upright. It means, to paraphrase Tim Keller, trusting that although these events may reveal me to be more sinful than I even believed, I am also, in the midst of them, more loved than I have dared to hope.

I am not called to fight the hundred-years' war. I have only to fight in this moment. I cannot look ahead and fear what may come; instead, I must fix my eyes on Jesus, be fully present HERE, and trust that the grace for tomorrow will be there tomorrow.

Acceptance = Peace
Divine Love Put Me Here
Joy. Here.

[edited repost from the archives]

1 comment:

Steve Finnell said...
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