What would you say to a person who lived her entire life like this?
"You just don't understand how hard it is to breathe. I hate it. I wish I didn't have to bother with it."
"Why gravity, God? Why? Don't you realize what I have to put up with every day?"
"Friend, I feel the need to blink again. I don't understand why I feel this way. What's wrong with me?"
Freaking out about the normal makes no sense. Buck up, cheerio, everyone breathes, experiences the phenomenon of gravity and blinks. No biggie. Don't sweat it. We're going to be doing this until Christ comes to take us home. Someone who complains about the everyday stuff that we must get through would get on my nerves to no end.
Then I realize something: Oops. I complain about the normal stuff every day. Sometimes I start the day groaning, "Why must I get up today?" I've been known to moan, "I hate brushing my teeth. I hate picking out clothes for the day. I hate eating." (I really do dislike eating. It bores me. It takes up time. Too bad humans don't receive nourishment and energy just by sitting in a corner writing blog posts.) And this really does bug people to no end. When I start listening to myself, it bugs me to no end. It's pointless, because waking up, brushing teeth, wearing clothes and eating all must get done in order to move on with life. In the end, I wake up, brush my teeth, throw on some clothes and eat sometime during the day, because that's just life.
Because I allow so much complaining about the obvious in my life, it shouldn't surprise me that my spiritual life proves so tempestuous at times. There are times when I think, "Aw, man, do I have to read my Bible again? Is it really time to pray? Must I mortify my flesh? I'd rather not, thanks." But in the end, I get around to it, because that's just the Christian life.
For some reason, I missed the memo that the "normal" Christian life involves things I never knew were normal. Like these:
- Sometimes I feel like God's not there.
- Sometimes I have no idea what I'm doing.
- Sometimes I mess up big time.
- All of the times I struggle with sin.
- Sometimes God doesn't seem to tell me what to do.
- Sometimes I get discouraged.
- Sometimes I end up waiting longer than I like.
- Sometimes it doesn't seem like my prayers get answered.
- Sometimes it seems like I'm not growing.
- Sometimes I don't "feel" spiritual.
- Sometimes it's a battle for joy.
When any one of these things occurred, I flipped out. I could not believe the depths to which I had fallen. I could not comprehend my failure as a Christian. I could not understand why the Christian life -- you know, the one where I'm always joyful and jump at a chance to pray and share Jesus with everyone and drive a high heel through any sin that so much as squeaks -- I could not understand why I couldn't keep it up. Then I learned that all this is normal. There will be struggles. There will be highs and lows emotionally. There will be stubborn thorns in the flesh.
And as long as I'm clinging on to Jesus, that's ok. These things are as normal as breathing, as necessary as brushing teeth. They're the fires that forge a lifelong devotion to Christ. It takes discipline and hard work and study, not a magical experience, to be transformed into a super-Christian.
You know what this means? This means I don't need to keep my sister up until 1 AM whining about how hard this is and I didn't expect it to be this hard and I'm so stupid and nothing seems to be working. This means I don't need to complain and worry at all. This means I don't need to holler at God to come back when I don't feel His presence or repent of the made-up sin of not feeling spiritual that day. Obedience -- not feeling -- is what God desires from us to show Him our love.
Don't crave experiences and "spiritual highs," thinking that's the norm for a strong, healthy relationship with God. Embrace the darker days, the harder moments, the deeper valleys and know that this is the normal road to tread.
That's when the joy comes.
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.
God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability,
but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape,
that you may be able to endure it.
-- 1 CORINTHIANS 10:12-13 --