I was that kid who always got plays well with others checked on my report card. I was the non-confrontational one. I was the peacemaker. I was the rule follower. I tried to treat others that way I wanted to be treated. I called myself a Christian. In retrospect, I would have to amend that and say that I was extremely Christian-lite. Anyway, that was the way that I lived my life. I thought I was a pretty easy kid to raise and I grew into a pretty decent adult. It is all in one’s perspective I suppose. Perhaps I surmised that I was better than some on the continuum of good and evil, so I took my get out of jail free card and patted myself on the back. I certainly knew that there were others much better than I on that scale, but I guess I thought it was beyond my reach so maybe I didn’t try harder to obtain it.
I recently ran across this quote by C. S. Lewis, who is a master wordsmith: “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.”
I realize how very true that statement rings for me. I am trying SO hard to be good. I have turned everything up a notch in my quest to make up for lost time. My Faith has never been stronger. I turn to prayer rather than worry. I intentionally start my day leaning in toward Scripture to lead my life and remind me of what I am called to do. I try to serve at every possible chance I get. I give of my first fruits. I am saying yes more and more to opportunities to give of my time and talents. I feel that I am trying to love my neighbor in ways that I never possibly imagined. I am the closest I’ve ever been to being a Disciple. And yet….
And yet…I am farther away than ever. Sometimes, I feel like Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo. Do you remember that scene in the movie where he is standing still and things get farther and farther away in a dizzying sort of reality? I am there. I find myself in confusing predicaments of communication with others. I find that my motives, which I feel are pure, are being painfully scrutinized. I find that my love is questioned by those that I truly love more than anything. I guess that I felt so changed on the inside that I thought others might see these changes in me. I had hoped that I might become a vessel of Christ’s love pouring through me and spilling out onto others. I guess I thought life might get a bit easier with stronger Faith, but instead I find that I am constantly being faced with circumstances to test it in ways I did not anticipate. I am not sure I am passing. Am I just now realizing this test because I am trying so hard to be good? Was I just oblivious to the situations before? Is this part of my growing and stretching process to put me completely out of my comfort zone?
In school, when it was time for a test, we had to put our books away. But now my tests are of the open book variety. I can use the Book that has all the answers. I just must be wise enough to find the answers, have the faith to believe them, and then have the strength to do them. I am finding that it is very hard to be good, and I really desire to be that kid again who plays well with others.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10