Have you ever had one of those moments where you have willed yourself not to do something, but then some mysterious force within you does it anyway? I do it almost daily. Just as one permanent example, you should never tell me that you have a body part that is hurting (i.e. “Oh, Beth. I hurt my back yesterday lifting concrete lizards and it hurts so bad everytime I move.”). Why should you never do this? Oh, only because I think my subconscious stores that information for half an hour later, when, for no reason at all, I slap you on the back as hard as I can (even though I’ve never ever done that before). I do not know why I do that. I guess I should run screaming anytime anyone tried to share any physical ailments with me.
Ooh, Beth. I really hurt my nose yesterday.
Oh gosh, I fell at the bowling alley and hurt my tailbone.
I feel like my spleen is sore.
Segue: I’ve been wallowing in selfishness lately. I’ve decided that selfishness sucks for a few reasons. Reason 1) While you might be living in your own little fantasy world that the whole world revolves around you, it, in fact, does not. That means that most of the time you are pouty because you did not get your way- which leads me to… Reason 2) As much as you think life is all about you as you wallow in your selfishness, people do not want to join you there. Frankly, being around people who are selfish is not fun. Case in point, Alex dragged me to a wedding this weekend that I didn’t want to go to. While I was pouting and inwardly sighing, Alex was having a grand old time. What a poot head (Am I talking about me or Alex? You’ll never know). (PS- Maybe wallowing is not the right word for me. Perhaps dabbling is more appropriate, although I’m pretty sure that both are equally stanky to God.)
The funny things is that I know when I am being selfish and I don’t want to be, but I am. Have you ever had that? It’s seriously like having an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other. In one of the most grammatically confusing, yet spiritually correct, verses in the New Testament, Paul writes (Romans 7:15):
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate to do.
Do what? That’s alot of do-do’s (doo-doos- HA). Let me bring it all together for you with a tale from the Beth files.
My landlord and I did not have a great start to our, let’s call it, “friendship”. When someone works in the service industry, I expect them to provide good service…blah, blah, blah, insert American entitlement here (I’m working on it, I promise!). Anyway, since then, I have really not been able to deal with her on a human, Christ-like level. It’s like I gave Satan a foothold in that relationship and he latched on like a….suckling pig? body sized leech? junior high boyfriend? Ew.
Anyway, a couple weeks ago, we had some minor repairs that needed to be done and I called her and set up some appointments because I was going to be at the house. Well, the repair guys didn’t come when she said they would. I just got madder and madder. I started doing that thing where you play out the future conversation in your mind and you always have the last word (Joe Barkell would call it the “zinger”, I believe). It’s stupid. Seriously, it was like spraying for bugs and changing an air filter. It’s not like we were breathing in visible mold spores or giant ants were nibbling at our dog at night. My head knew that it was stupid to get mad, but my emotions didn’t. So, after all this build up, I tried to calm myself down before I called her. I felt that I had done so successfully….until I talked to her.
Okay, seriously, my blood started boiling and I got light headed and my hands were shaking. If I had stayed on the phone any longer, I probably would have turned into the Hulk or something. Those were my emotions speaking (or physically reacting). All the while, my head is going, “What the heck, Beth? STOP IT. It’s stupid to get mad. Stupid, stupid, stupid.”
At that moment, I clearly understood Paul’s frustrations. I know what I want to be. I want to be loving, kind, peaceful, joyful, giving, compassionate, humble, patient, faithful, and good (all of the things that Jesus is). But the truth of the matter is that I am not. I (the sinful part of me) is hateful, mean, warring, grouchy, selfish, uncaring, prideful, impatient, unfaithful, and bad. Not to say that I am all of those things all at once, but I am at least one of those things pretty regularly.
It may sound confusing and frustrating. And it is. BUT, I am thankful that God has finally revealed this struggle to me in a way that I can understand it and see how it works in my life. After all, now that I’m aware, maybe more of these daily battles will result in victory, instead of defeat. It also makes me grateful that God has offered me forgiveness for those things when I do cross over to the dark side.
Until then, I will just try my best to do-do what I know makes God happy.