Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sometimes Just Showing Up is the Hardest Part

Did you ever have one of those days where you oversleep and instead of feeling rested after having that extra hour of sleep, you feel a step behind from where you need to be the whole day? Well, that was my day yesterday. It was a solid day of forgetting to make lunches, rushing to appointments, questioning my actions, hard decisions, mommy guilt and just plain chaos. I was feeling weary and beat by the time I finally went to bed, ready to just give up, in fact. It certainly wasn't a perfect day by any stretch of the imagination.

My imperfect day got me to thinking about my relationship with God, and how I often feel a step behind the place I need to be in that relationship as well as in my life. I am constantly forgetting things that should be routine, rushing to get to the next lesson, second guessing myself, battling with guilt for not seeing/doing what I should have, feel plain chaotic inside and out. Will I ever get it right? Is God getting exasperated with me? Is God happy with what I am doing with my life? These are questions that are on my mind continuously.

Luckily for me, God doesn't require perfection. All he asks is that I show up. And to keep showing, day after day, after day. It really is that simple. And that difficult. Some days I don't want to show up. Some days I don't want to go by God's pray-for-your-enemy rules. Some days I don't love those people who oppose me and I don't even want to try. Some days I don't have compassion for people who make the same mistakes over and over again and I don't feel like loving them like Jesus would. I want to throw up my hands in frustration and turn a cold shoulder to them. Yes, some days it would be easier not to show up. Because once I show up, I am required to obey God's word.

Colossians 3:12 says that as a Christian, we are to clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility and patience. Further on, in that same chapter of Colossians, in verse 13 and 14 it is written that we should forgive others, bear with one another. Over all of this we are to put on love, like a cozy warm coat that protects all of the other things from getting frostbitten when we expose ourselves to others. Notice in verse 12 it says that we have to wrap ourselves in these things so that others can see them just by observing us. Our actions speak much louder than our words. We can quote scripture and tell bible stories all day long to everyone we meet, but if they can't see the manifestation of these attributes, covered in love, in our actions, what good are we to the Kingdom of God?

The lessons that I see in scripture always come back to love one way or another. I know that there are those who do not believe that God (and Jesus) is only about love, but I believe that in the most fundamental way, he is. Even in his justice he is loving. This gives me great comfort to know that God's overriding emotion toward me is love. It makes me feel better when I have a bad day, when I don't listen to my inner voice (the Holy Spirit) like I should and even when I just don't feel like showing up; he still loves me. He's always waiting right were I left off, ready to proceed at my own pace. He shows infinite patience with me and my failures. I count on his compassion when I find myself in need of his mercy. His kindness goes a long way toward helping me to forgive myself my imperfections. With his gentleness and humility, I learn to accept correction when I need it.

I count on all of these things from God. It only stands to reason, that as his servant, he would expect me to extend the same to those around me. So, when I look back over my day yesterday and most especially one hard decision I made, when I second guess myself, all really need to do is ask myself these questions: Did I approach the person with compassion?; Was I gentle yet firm in my words?; Was I patient and forgiving?; Did I show kindness in my delivery?; And above all were my actions done with love? Answering yes to these questions should give me confidence that what I did, though it may have caused pain, was still the right thing to do and in so doing, was in line with my faith and the compass by which I live my life.

Making the right choices is a hard call sometimes, but we still have to show up. We have to show up, obey and then trust enough to let it go and allow God to handle the rest.