Thursday, July 26, 2012

Just Show Up

Have you ever experienced a day in which you oversleep? Curiously, instead of feeling rested after having extra sleep, you feel a step behind? I think we all have days like this. Every decision seems more difficult that it should; people get on our nerves more than usual.
Having a day like this can leave us wondering why we even got up that day. all have days like this. Every decision seems more difficult that it should; people get on our nerves more than usual. A day like this can leave us wondering why we even got up that day.

Days like this get 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.  I 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 all.

Some days I don't want to follow God's pray-for-your-enemy rules. Some days, I don't love those people who oppose me; 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 compassion, kindness, gentleness, etc., we are to put on love. We are asked to wear that 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 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, what good are we to the Kingdom of God?

Most lessons scripture, as I see it, come back to love one way or another. I know there are those who don't 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.

It 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; when I just don't feel like showing up, he still loves me.

God is always waiting right were I left off, ready to proceed at my 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 mercy and gentleness to those around me. So, when I look back over any given day, when I second guess myself, or whatever, all that is needed is to ask myself these questions: Did I approach people with compassion? Was I gentle yet firm in my words? Was I patient and forgiving? Did I show kindness in my delivery?

Most importantly, the question is: were my actions done with love? Answering yes to these questions should give me confidence, that I have acted in line with my faith-- the compass by which I live my life.

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