Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Confession

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 8:18-25, ESV

I have a confession to make. Like so many things, this confession has a good side and a bad side. The good side is this: I care about the issues of the world. I care about violence and injustice and starvation and exploitation. Ever since when I was 12 I read this one book that mentioned some of these things that happen in the world, I have cared, and I have wanted to do something.

Another good thing is that I have always known that this is something that God cares about, too. There are so many verses about releasing the captives and caring for the poor and doing what is just by our neighbors; it is clearly important to Him.

So, I care, and I recognize that He has called me to care, and not  only to feel something, but also to do something. What's the bad side of my confession?

Well, thinking about the things that are wrong in the world is painful, and I am kind of a wimp. Knowing that I am supposed to do something, and not knowing what to do about it, is hard. For years I have been actively avoiding and putting off the subject. My reasoning was, that I didn't know what I specifically was supposed to do, and until I knew that, why not just not think about it at all? It was much easier that way, so I put that part of my heart to the side, and I didn't talk about it or seek it. Until quite recently, that is.

More recently, I have been thinking about the fact that knowing God's will in an area of one's life comes from actively spending time listening to Him in that area, both in prayer and in His word. I have also been thinking about the fact that most things for me work out to be a slow and gradual process, not a sudden realization. Putting those two things together means that, unless I start seeking these issues, thinking about them, praying about them, reading about them, talking about them, then I am never going to know what it is I am called to do, and it is going to be a small and guilty secret for the rest of my life that there was something I was supposed to do, and I was never brave enough to find out what it was.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

No Pressure!

I have a new motto.

It is a promise to myself about what my motivations and attitudes will be, and what they will not be.

It is a promise that this year will be different. That I will not waste time in feeling guilty when I take a break, or in hanging around half-working just because I don't feel entitled to a break. That I will, in fact, take breaks when I need them for mental or physical health and that I will NOT feel guilty about being a finite human being with a certain temperament that comes with its limitations.

It is a promise that I will never again use my own personal version of the carrot-and-the-stick method of motivation--my own personal method being all stick and no carrot. It is a promise that avoidance of guilt, or obligation to match what someone else is doing, or fear of failure, will NOT be the reason that I do what I do.

It is a promise that I will find a true and proper motivation to work, in personal enjoyment of the material, in a genuine desire to do well, in a healthy non-pressurized desire to please and serve others, in a sense that what I am doing I am doing because I am called of God to do it and not because it is required by an institution or an organization.

It is a promise that I will make time alone with God seeking Him in my own quiet, creative, introverted ways a priority, because otherwise I will never find the energy to do the work He has called me to, or the guidance to know what that work is.

And most of all, it is a commitment to focus on the process rather than the destination, to focus on direction rather than measuring where I am as if it is supposed to be the end result, and to find satisfaction in the process of becoming the person that God has called me to be, in patience and in trust, without fear, without apology, and without the need to compare myself to others.