Category Archives: Guilt

The Multiple Meanings of the “Narrow Gate”

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” ~ Matthew 7:13-14

This little pair of verses is one of the most commonly quoted among Christians. It is almost a mantra, I have heard it so many times growing up: from the pulpit, from my dad, and perhaps most often, in my own head.

When I was taught this passage growing up, it was almost always about salvation. It split human beings into two groups: the big group of people who take the easy way in life, and the small group whose lives are flipping hard because they are living for Jesus.

As a Christian, I’ve undoubtedly had to consider that I belong to the smaller group. And based on the way I was taught this passage, I’ve always understood it to be based on belief. I choose the hard beliefs; I choose the beliefs that leave people thinking I’m a judgmental asshole sometimes. I choose the beliefs that result in being misunderstood, or naive. Because of course, if this Christian life is easy and without trials and difficulties, and if my beliefs aren’t challenged and opposed by the world around me, I must not be on the narrow path after all, right?

I wish that Jesus had offered more context when he spoke this saying. But there really isn’t any; it comes right in the middle of a bunch of other quick, brief teachings: don’t judge, don’t throw you pearls before swine (a weird passage if I ever heard one!), have confidence that God will give you what you ask for.

In light of that, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that we can look at these verses with an entirely different lens than the salvation/damnation paradigm. A little while ago, I read Rob Bell’s wonderful little book Love Wins. He has this remarkable way of personalizing Jesus’ teachings in the book while staying faithful to their message. He talked about heaven and hell—i.e., the narrow way and the broad way—not in terms of two places that human beings are divided into based on God’s judgment, but rather states of being that we choose for ourselves in this life—in the here and now.

So if we choose bitterness over a past wrong, we’ve chosen hell. If we choose to go out of our way to show kindness to someone, we’ve chosen heaven.

I think that same idea can be applied to this saying about the narrow way and the broad way. I think it might tie in nicely with all the stuff Paul says (in Romans I think, but probably in other letters too) about the lure of our sinful spirits, and about how difficult it is to choose Jesus. And really, choosing Jesus and choosing life are the same thing at the end of the day, aren’t they?

Anyway, tying back to what I said earlier about choosing the hard beliefs, I think the narrow way, the way that leads to life, isn’t about an exclusive set of beliefs. Or at least it isn’t just about that. I think so much of it has to do with how I view people, how inclusive I am of those around me.

At the end of the day, that is so much harder than having beliefs that “the world” thinks are silly and archaic. I’ve done that my whole life—believe me, I’ve got that down pat, and it doesn’t really faze me anymore (probably because I have come to realize that a lot of my beliefs were silly and archaic!). What is so much harder is breaking down stereotypes, seeing the people around me for the beautiful souls that they are instead of judging them based on the myriad ways of judging that human beings have invented  and then passed down to their children.

That is hard. That is a narrow path that few people ever find.

But maybe, at least when looking at it this way, recognizing the path you are on is the first step to retracing your  steps and finding your way back to the narrow path that Jesus desires us to take. I don’t think choosing the broad path has to be the final word, for otherwise what is the purpose of grace?

It’s so incredible when you peel back the layers of scripture like this, and unfold the myriad meanings that you can draw even from little sayings like this. That is why I love the Gospels so much; each story, each saying, each teaching can be viewed from a dozen different dimensions, and can result in a dozen different meanings. It’s pretty incredible when you think about it.

So yeah, I think narrow path could represent choosing a set of beliefs that most of the people around you have rejected. It could also represent the kind of radical inclusion that Jesus displayed (a path that I think many Christians today are totally not on!). Or it could be about something else entirely. You could pick your demons, really, based on what you are struggling with or what areas of ignorance or blind spots you currently have in your life. That’s the beauty of stories; there’s more than one way to read them.

When Someone Sees in You What You Cannot See Yourself

Lately I’ve been writing all kinds of stuff about my new church, Thoburn UMC, because I am so thrilled to have finally found a home there. Tonight in small groups, things were a little bit unconventional because we watched a video on the prophets, so I don’t have much to share about our actual discussion.

Before we hunkered down for the video, though, our group leader and the church’s associate pastor, Pastor Adam, shared an update about the small group that my current group recently split off from. He said that all of them had admitted to never reading scripture cover-to-cover, and how they had all independently made the decision to do so, something they discovered last week at their small group.

And it got me thinking about how much I am growing to treasure this group I have become a part of. See, I also have never read the Bible cover-to-cover, and I had always been ashamed of that. So last year I had committed to doing so, and I got as far as Numbers 16 before I tossed my Bible away in horror and haven’t picked it up since (well, I’ve picked it up of course, but not to read Numbers, that’s for sure!).

But since these people courageously shared that they are in the same boat as me, and will likely have some of the same jarring experiences I did, I have found that I can do this. I can pick up my Bible again and continue what I started last year. And that is a gift that my old church—for all that I appreciate about it—could not give me because I knew I could never just vent my fears to them about what I encounter in scripture without it turning in to a debate.

And that is not all that happened at small groups tonight; I have saved the best for last.

Before the group started, Pastor Adam took me aside and privately asked me a question that left me entirely stunned and at a complete loss for words.

Before I explain what he asked me, let me explain the concept of small groups at Thoburn. Basically, the idea is for the groups to multiply. As a group becomes larger than 12 or so, it is the pastors’ vision that the group would split into two, with two separate leaders. And as those groups become larger, they would also split, and so on. So the groups become more numerous, but remain small and intimate.

So each group needs to have an acting leader, and a potential leader for when the groups split.

Have you guessed what Pastor Adam asked me yet? I’m sure you can, and thus understand why I was so utterly stunned. I’ve only been going to Thoburn for a few months now, and have generally been my normal, quiet, introverted yet rather opinionated self. And yet, he asked me to lead the new group when ours split.

I actually, literally asked him if he was serious, and after small groups when I decided to agree to lead it, I was certain he had asked me as a last resort, because everyone else in the room was married and had a lot of other responsibilities. And yet, he told me I was his first choice, because I seem grounded and steady in my faith, and I demonstrate a desire to grow.

And really…isn’t this what the Church is supposed to be about? Believers edifying one another? Seeing potential in one another that you might not be able to see for yourself? I felt so encouraged after our discussion, and while I am one of the youngest in our group and feel wildly under-qualified for this, I had to ask myself this question. How, after talking about how God uses ordinary people to fulfill his purposes just like he did with the prophets, could I tell my pastor I wasn’t the right person to do this?

So my introverted little self is going to leap outside my comfort zone and do something I am very, very nervous to do: in the future at some point, I will be facilitating a small group at Thoburn.

Cheers to spiritual growth and overcoming your demons of inadequacy!

Putting Away Our Swords

Over the last few days, I’ve been mulling further over everything I was taught at the retreat last weekend. One of the recurring themes seemed to be standing up for our beliefs, and being vocal about defending the truth in the Bible. We talked about our roots as a Christian nation, and how much more moral our society was fifty years ago, and how we must hearken back to those days to recapture the values that the Bible champions.

Of course I have my own misgivings about that language, but what I want to write about today is the tendency we as Christians have to take matters into our own hands. We fret and worry about how degenerate our nation has become, and how we must rally to restore values that have changed in our culture. And we guilt-trip each other with the responsibility of witnessing: “What if this person dies in a car crash on their way home from work today, and you missed the only opportunity you’ll ever have to show them Jesus and save them from eternal damnation?”

I’ve been thinking about this tendency, and of all things, relating it to Peter’s actions in the Garden of Gethsemane right before Jesus was arrested. In Matthew 26:51-54, we read:

“And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. Forall who take the sword will perish by the sword.  Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

Now, this could quite possibly be an interpretive stretch, but I think you and I have a lot to learn from Peter here (we know this is Peter because of a similar passage in John). I don’t think Jesus is just chastising Peter for resorting to violence when his beloved Messiah is threatened. Jesus is reminding Peter that He is God, that he is capable of constructing events in the garden however he wishes, and that if Jesus is arrested it doesn’t have anything to do with God’s failure to protect him—or Peter’s failure to protect him—and everything to do with a larger plan, a larger story playing out that Peter can’t see in the moment.

I think that when many Christians talk about how we are responsible for telling as many people as we can about Jesus, when we talk about how we are responsible for imposing “biblical” (read: conservative) values on our culture, we are guilty of doing what Peter did in the Garden of Gethsemane. We are relying on our own strength, and our own supposed knowledge of what God’s will is, to bring about change and usher in what we think God desires of our lives and our nation.

But just think about it: Peter thought he was doing what was best. He was defending Jesus. He was standing up boldly and making a statement of devotion by cutting off that soldier’s ear; it was undoubtedly a very brave thing to do.

But that wasn’t the plan God had in store. God had a larger, more beautiful, more liberating plan for Jesus in that moment. He wasn’t supposed to be just another revolutionary, inspiring people to take up arms and fight for his defense. It was never God’s intention to call down angels to the rescue of his Son. Instead Jesus went away calmly with his captors and subjected himself to humiliation and torture and death.

He lived and trusted in God’s plan for his life, instead of walking through life as if everything depended on his own actions and words to usher in the Kingdom. So perhaps we ought to live like Jesus, and a little less like Peter. Perhaps we ought to remember that we are not responsible for how God works in the hearts of people to draw them to himself. That his plan so far beyond our own limited vision, just as it was in that garden.

God’s kingdom will come, and we must have faith in that. God’s plans are so much bigger than inspiring us to cut off the ears of soldiers in our defense of him. Maybe the best way forward is to obey Jesus’ words to Peter, put away our swords, and trust in God’s future as we grow and walk with Him.

Sometimes It Seems like Faith is Fickle

This Christian life is such a freaking roller coaster ride. Sometimes, it’s downright exhausting.

Until a few weeks ago, I was sailing along pretty easily. I was thinking gracious thoughts towards those around me, and meditating on what God wants of me. I was reading my Bible hungrily and with a submissive spirit that feels pretty rare these days. Basically, things were going pretty well for me, spiritually speaking. I was at the top of a hill, convinced that the valleys were far behind me.

Yeah, right.

Then, in the space of a week, my circumstances took a huge turn for the worse. My roommate moved out unexpectedly, leaving me having to suddenly pay extra on rent and depleting my savings account, which is always something that stresses me out tremendously. Then just two days later, I got bad news about my family. I’ll spare you the details of it, but basically my dad has bi-polar disorder and had to be hospitalized. I know this  doesn’t sound like too much of a crisis, but trust me, it was.

So in the space of those few days, I went from feeling positive and optimistic and loving towards my heavenly Father…to not caring a bit about anything related to God, and just wanting to be home with my family. So I made the drive, and spent a weekend with them. I visited my dad twice, which was extremely difficult for me emotionally. And then I drove back to an ordinary week at work, when inside I was falling apart at the seams.

Right now, my heart is still heavy, but I am on the mend and am able to process everything I’m going through. I still haven’t found a roommate, so I’m still feeling incredibly anxious. But my dad’s situation is improving a lot, and he may be released from the hospital early next week. So all in all, things are looking up for me. But during that week while I was still an emotional wreck about everything that was going on, I just didn’t give a fig for God. He wasn’t the one I turned to for comfort; it was to friends and family. I regarded my Bible with bitterness and angst, instead of drawing comfort from its holy words, as many of my friends tried to help me to do.

And now, as I process all of this, there is one thought that recurrently runs through my head: Geez. Faith is so fickle.

All it took was my circumstances being derailed out of my control for any sense of security I felt in Jesus to evaporate into thin air. All it took was a combination of these two crises—mostly what happened with my dad, but the roommate situation really wasn’t helping matters—for every faithful, positive thought I had about God to just drain completely out of me. I think the reasons for this are complicated, because I really believe it has a lot to do with the specifics circumstances of my dad’s story, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

Because seriously. What does that say about me? What does that say about the true strength of my walk with God? I get dealt a bad blow in life, and suddenly a faith that felt alive and vibrant and pushing forward suddenly felt dead and useless? In the space of a week I went from feeling secure to feeling hopeless, feeling optimistic to feeling apathetic, feeling joy to feeling downright miserable pain and abandonment.

How does that happen?

It’s so discouraging. And yet, if nothing else, what I’ve gone through over the last few weeks have taught me this: God’s grace, God’s love, are not dependent on my feelings. Whether I am soaring to the peak of a hill, or trapped in a valley so low I don’t even care if God exists at all, He is there, loving me still. That will never change, no matter how difficult and emotionally taxing my circumstances are.

Faith has never been about my emotions.

It’s just so hard to remind myself of that when the emotions are all negative ones.

Why Me, God?

I ask myself that question sometimes. Why me? Why did God choose that I be born into the family that I was born into? Why did he afford me place of such extreme privilege? I hear about the stories…the things that are happening in the other parts of the world and even in my own country, and it makes me realize how incredibly, unfairly blessed I am. I take these things for granted every day: running water, heat, an apartment of my own, a car, a stable job that I enjoy. Siblings with whom I have a strong bond, parents who have showered love on me from the moment I was born, the opportunity to attend a fantastic college. No one has ever persecuted me because of my religious beliefs, no one has ever threatened my safety in any way, and no one has ever bullied me.

The list is nearly infinite. And I think…why? Why have I been given so very much in this life? It is so very easy to take it all for granted and not connect with the reality that my life is abundantly privileged in every way.

Sometimes I feel this deeply abiding sense of guilt for the wonderful life I have led. I think about inspirational stories of people who have pulled themselves up from the ashes, who have been born into the most destitute of circumstances, found God, and went on achieve so much in the name of the Savior.

And I wonder: why don’t I feel as though I am on the path to achieve these things? I, who have had all the support in the world?

The more I reflect on this, the more I wonder…maybe I have it all backwards. After all, many of the men and women of God throughout the Bible who began their lives from a place of privilege were the worst examples of what it means to live a life  bent to the will of the Father. Saul, Solomon, pretty much all the OT Israelite kings, the Pharisees—these people were all blessed with abundance and stature, and they were completely corrupted. And of course there are exceptions, such as David and Josiah in the OT, and Matthew the tax collector in the NT.

But most of the people Jesus chose as disciples were the ones who were barely scraping by, who knew little of what it means to live in comfort. And I have to wonder if this is because they were more malleable. They knew what it meant to be compelled to rely on another for their daily bread, and so perhaps their hearts were more teachable (though I can’t be certain—after all, Peter strikes me as pretty obstinate fellow!).

So I think there is room to feel grateful for my privilege, but also to realize that sometimes privilege can lead you to believe your life is a blessing from God instead of a hurdle that prevents you from learning utter dependence on Jesus. God gave me the life that he did for a reason, but I need to be aware of what this comfortable life that I have means in light of my relationship with the Lord.

The Shame of Morality

Let me tell you a little bit about me. I’m the girl who grew up the perfect archetype of a good Christian girl. I can’t remember a period of my life when I wasn’t attending church consistently, often multiple times a week. I breezed through high school with easy straight A’s, then went on to attend one of the most conservative Christian colleges in the nation. The first time I had a drink just because I wanted to was a thrilling moment during which I giggled inwardly at the scandal of my rebellion.

I’ve always pursued morality tenaciously, and I’ve felt plagued with guilt every time I inevitably fell short of the standard I enforced upon myself (though I always told myself it was God who enforced it on me).

This might seem like a good thing, but I can assure you it is not. When you ride yourself so hard, you have a way of turning good morals into an idol, and conflating your adherence to those morals with God’s love for you. So when you fall short, the worthiness you feel in the sight of God also diminishes, and that is something that should never happen.

Now I’m going to turn a corner, and tell you a secret. I made it to third base with a guy I was in love with. I compromised my values, capitulated to lust, and awakened desires and impulses that I never knew existed.

And to this day I feel the shame of that. My idea of morality is so hopelessly entangled with my desire to please God that I can’t really sort out whether I feel ashamed because that’s what I’m supposed to feel when I compromise my sexual purity, or because I sinned, or just because it all felt so good in the moment.

I think there might also be a deeper, more profound reason for this saturating sense of shame. Messing around with my (now ex) boyfriend was the first time I’d ever deliberately committed one of the “big sins” I’d been taught to avoid. In other words, it was the first sin I’d committed that truly tarnished my image of myself as a “good Christian girl” and came face-to-face with the reality my own depravity.

So maybe, in a weird and ironic way, something good came out of my choice to compromise. I learned how weak my flesh can be, and how disposed to sinfulness I really am, in spite of my upbringing and my commitment to my values. I’ve come out the other side a wiser and more careful woman, though also a woman who now has some emotional baggage to work through that I didn’t have before.

So, what do you know. Perhaps good can come of sin after all—even the sexual kind.

The REAL Meaning of Romans 3:23!

I just had a fantastic revelation! Like, a mind-blowing revelation and I gotta share it! And it is this: context matters when you’re reading scripture!!!

Haha. Okay. Done being snarky. But seriously…read this:

“For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (although it is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed—namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Do you see? Do you get it? We Christians have always been fond of quoting Romans 3:23 in isolation. But when you read it in context, this verse is not meant to be a condemnation of humanity bur rather a way of leveling the playing field between the Jews and the Gentiles. Paul is saying to his fellow Jews, “Hey, guess what you guys? The Law doesn’t make you righteous. You are no more righteous than the Gentiles even though you have adhered to the Law so dutifully.

This may seem blatantly obvious to you. But after a lifetime of being told that that verse is a reminder that all of humanity hopelessly depraved…after a lifetime of hearing that verse in an accusatory light, it is more liberating than I can express to understand that this verse was written as a message of solidarity, a message to say that the law-abiders and the law-breakers are all on level a level playing field under the New Covenant.

Isn’t that just so freaking cool?!?!

P.S. I hope you appreciate the informal tone of this blog post. I only wrote it this way because I’m just ecstatic to be reading this verse in a totally new light. And when I’m ecstatic, my serious and profound way of writing out my thoughts kinda goes out the window!

Guess What? I Struggle with Insecurity

I’ve always known this about myself, but today it seems to be weighing especially heavy on my heart and seriously affecting my mood.

I care  too much what others think of me. My family might deny this, but I am a serious people-pleaser. It really matters to me that everyone around me approves of me and affirms my lifestyle, choices, beliefs, etc. Even though it may not always seem that way based on how I interact with others, I try really really really hard to see issues from their point of view, and understand why they think the way they do, before I dismiss their opinions. And it bothers me when we can’t see eye-to-eye, when I can’t make them understand that we have far more in common than we have differences about.

And when someone (especially someone close to me) expresses their disapproval of my lifestyle, choices, beliefs, etc., it hits me hard. Always. I internalize it, and I react in two ways. First, I start viewing that person in terms of all the things they said about me. I minimize their virtues and exaggerate their vices, and sometimes I ramble to someone else about how wrong they are to say such things about me. I feel the constant need to prove myself, to make sure everyone knows that this is what I believe, not that. That this is the choice I made, not that, etc.

In short, validation means the world to me. And when someone criticizes me instead of validating me, I have this awful tendency to blow it out of proportion.

The second way I react to disapproval and/or criticism is to take it to heart—in a bad way. Even though I’ll never admit it to the offender’s face, I often internalize their words so much that I start to second-guess my own convictions. I start considering angles other than my own, no matter how unnatural they seem. And then I get furious because these other angles just don’t make sense. But then I’m just furious at myself for being such a wobbly bowl of jello when it comes to standing by what I believe in. It’s a nasty, vicious cycle. And when I get sucked into it, it always takes me a long time to dig myself out.

Anyway, I’m not really sure why I’m sharing all this. Maybe it’s to let you into a little snippet of how my mind and emotions work, and how tumultuous they are most of the time. Maybe it’s to ask you for a little grace when you disapprove of me, because if you know how I take it and how much I struggle with insecurity, you’ll be less likely to be harsh when you criticize me.

As for myself, I’m going to start changing my focus. I’m going to start cherishing all the beautiful things God says about me. I’m going to start measuring my worth not by what the people around me think about me, but by how God measures my worth and the place He has given me in His kingdom. Because seriously. God’s opinion should be the only one that matters to me.

Trying Harder Isn’t What It’s All About

This afternoon I reread an article on the Redemption Pictures blog, and it got me thinking about the relationship this writer draws between sin and doubt. It’s so easy to accuse those of us who struggle with doubt for doing so because we’ve embraced sin in our lives (in this example, sexual sin). But it’s just a lot more complex than that. I relate so well to Micah’s story. because I’ve pursued purity and righteousness all my life. Yet I’ve always felt the need to earn God’s favor.

Micah writes,

 “As a teenager, I literally thought I could chart my “spiritual health” on a line graph, with my only data point being how many times per day I snuck an eager glance at the lingerie section of a J.C. Penney catalog. I believed that the sum total of my relationship with God could be measured by my ability to control my sexual urges. Of course, this was a ludicrously flawed approach to spirituality.

If young people today are hesitant to turn to God, it’s not because “His opinions on sex are restrictive”. It’s because they think that following God is primarily about morality, about “not having sex”. It’s because they see Christianity as a list of beliefs to accept and sins to avoid. It’s because, despite all the right teaching and doctrine, it’s so often just about “trying harder”.”

Read the rest of the article here. It’s a wonderful read.

So how should we approach this? How do we live lives that are more Christlike without falling into this soul-sucking trap of always feeling like we have to try harder to avoid sin and win God’s favor?

I’m not sure there’s an easy answer to that, but I think it starts with understanding that your identity is not based on your own merits and your own ability to avoid sin. Because, let’s face it, who among us is really capable of living a stellar moral life on our own? Instead, if we start with the foundation of God’s boundless grace, we are not shamed into trying harder to avoid sin. Instead we are driven by love to imitate Christ—not because we are trying to earn His favor, but because our hearts desire to demonstrate our love for Him.

I am reminded of that beautiful passage about the power of love in I Corinthians. The first few verses, especially, relate so powerfully to the futility of trying to earn the favor of God by good works. I mean, my goodness, if martyrdom itself is meaningless without a foundation of love, what does that say about yours or my strivings for righteousness?

 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13:1-3

The Nature of Fallenness

This past week, I got into a bit of an argument online about good deeds and faith and Christian love and all that jazz. The person I was debating essentially quoted Matthew 5:48 (“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”) to make the point that we must strive for holiness in our lives. While I think this is absolutely true, I also expressed my thoughts that this idea really needs to be supplemented by Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9, which says, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Basically, living a life of righteousness–pursuing “perfection”, so to speak—is kind of a pointless endeavor in light of the truth of what it means to be a Christian. I mean, I’ve done that my whole life. I’ve gone to church, I’ve tried my hardest to speak graciously and develop positive friendships, I’ve done my best to pursue the will of God in my romantic relationships, I’ve taken the Bible seriously and sought to live out its precepts. But all this pursuit of holiness, all this striving to live rightly has never, for a moment, made me feel closer to God. And I don’t think it’s because I haven’t tried hard enough. I think it’s precisely because I have tried.

Being in a relationship with the Father isn’t about trying to do more or be more. It isn’t about pushing full steam ahead in the works department and crowding out the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit. Being in relationship with the Father is about surrender. It’s about having the humility to acknowledge, as Paul does, how weak I am, and how full of sinful desires I am. I know that’s the truth, whether people on the web agree with me or not.

One thing I thought of, though, as I shared and discussed the 2 Corinthians passage is how much I really believe I’m weak and depraved and all of that. Because, as I said, I’ve striven for holiness my whole life. I generally wish well for others and try to be the best person I can be. How depraved am I, really?

What I’ve come to realize is that my sin nature isn’t as blatant and easy to detect as I’ve always imagined it ought to be. I think my sinfulness rears its head most often in the subtle but very pervasive mindset that the world revolves around me. When I stop and think about how many times a day I think a selfish thought, or fret over why someone else doesn’t see things the way I see them, the realization is just staggering. That tendency to think inwardly, to think about how the words and actions of those around me can best benefit me, is the core of the human nature of  fallenness. It’s easy to justify, easy to explain away and write off, but oh dear goodness is it pervasive in my life!

Anyway, the point of all this self-reflection is to say that I am done trying to battle my sin nature on my own. I’m done trying to pretend it doesn’t exist, or doesn’t play a large role in preventing me from embracing the love of the Father. If all this soul-searching has convinced me of anything, it’s that I can’t try to be holy, I can’t try to be righteous, I can’t try to drive away my sinful predisposition, all on my own. Instead, I’m going to focus on surrender, on humbly giving up my will to the grace of God, that his power may be made perfect in my weakness, just as Paul says.