Friday, December 21, 2012

Learning to be Weak

A few weeks ago in Living Waters, I renounced a vow I had made when I was a child. The vow: I will never be weak.
Here I am. It's 8:30 on a Friday night. And I have just screwed up once again.
I'm sitting here asking myself: Why? (I seem to ask myself that quite a bit. Maybe I should ask God--I think I will get more answers that way.)
Why? Prior to slipping into the deadly spiral, I had spent a good 45 minutes talking to someone about it. How I wanted to stop. How I am hurting other people when I sin. (It is impossible to commit a personal, isolated, victimless sin--any sin in the body of Christ will negatively impact the other body parts.)
I messed up...AGAIN.
And what do I want to do? Fix it myself  before the damage goes too far.
What does that mean for me? Hide it. Don't tell anyone. Clean up the empty dishes. Go for a run or to the gym. Eat less the next day. And make yet another empty promise to myself not to do it again.
I'm not really fixing anything, am I?
Here I am. It's now 8:33 on a Friday night. I have just screwed up once again. And there is nothing I can do to fix it.
The damage has been done.
I am powerless.
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. . . . For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. . . . I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members." Romans 7:15, 19, 23
I feel completely powerless to overcome my addictive patterns. But is this "feeling" really telling me the truth? (Feelings are real--don't get me wrong--but they are not always informing me of truth. For example, I feel a true fear of a big, hairy spider that is about 8 feet away from me, minding its own business. Is that spider going to eat me alive? No--not unless we are staging a horror movie that has gone horribly wrong.)
So I feel powerless. But am I truly without power?
See, I know better than my feelings. For I know that I have Christ in me--and He is the ultimate victor. So how can I be completely powerless?
Doctors Cloud and Townsend, in their book, Boundaries, outline the type of power I have in Christ:
  1. I have the power to agree with the truth about my problems.
  2. I have the power to submit my inability to God.
  3. I have the power to search and ask God and others to reveal more and more about what is within my boundaries.
  4. I have the power to turn from the evil that I find within me.
  5. I have the power to humble myself and ask God and others to help me with my developmental injuries and leftover childhood needs.
  6. I have the power to seek out those that I have injured and make amends.
 So I have power...but its a paradoxical power. Let me break down 2 Corinthians 12:7-10...
"To keep me from becoming conceited
  •  Pride is one of my biggest sin areas--as I believe it is with all of us.
"because of these surpassingly great revelations,
  • before you disqualify yourself on the grounds that you have not been given such "great revelations" please do not forget that we have been given the Word of God and then the Word of God in flesh--Jesus Christ. You have been given a surpassingly great revelation.
"there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
  • I realize there is much debate about what Paul's thorn was. But I am going to ignore that for now, and try to apply this to my situation. My thorn in my flesh is an addiction to sin (specifically an addiction to food and my body). The words "thorn", "flesh", "Satan", and "torment" make an addiction to sin a pretty good general description of what Paul might have been talking about.
"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
  • wrestling with God (Jacob with the Angel of the LORD...)
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'
  • Christ's strength is displayed most clearly when I am weak. Therefore I must depend upon His grace that allows me to be weak.
"Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
  • Okay, honestly, I am not at this point yet. I renounced that vow I made as a child, but I still don't like being weak. It is not something I am ready to boast in. However, as I realize that, I realize also that it means I do not boast in Christ's strength either. (Ouch! Forgive me, Lord!)
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
  • This is really where I am in the learning process: "For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Here I am. It's 9:12 on a Friday night. I have screwed up, and there is nothing I can do to fix it. I am powerless to fix my mess. I am weak in my sinful self.
But I have Christ in me. He is strong. He says to me: "My grace is sufficient for you."
"My grace is sufficient for you, Jaime."
I don't understand. I am a mess. You don't want to see me all dirty and gross looking.
"My grace is sufficient. I will clean you up. Will you accept my offer of grace?"
There must be a catch. Surely you must want me to clean myself up.
"I want you to admit that you are dirty. . . and that you are incapable of cleaning yourself up."
"My grace is sufficient, Jaime. Will you accept it?"
(Sigh) Yes. . . I haven't done such a good job at cleaning myself up on my own anyway.
"Good. Now let my power seep through you."
And what power is that?
"The power to turn from evil."
But I keep failing at that!!
"Because you are trying to do it on your own strength. Which, by the way, you don't really have! Remember, you just admitted that you are incapable of cleaning yourself up. Well, you are also incapable of keeping yourself clean. That is what my imparted power can enable you to do."
"Remember, Jaime. This is not a one time thing. Tomorrow you will be tempted to keep yourself clean in and of your own strength. And if you choose to do so, you will fail. And you will also be tempted to try to clean yourself up on your own. If you choose to try to do so, you will fail. You must choose to be weak daily, Jaime. If you fail, I will take you back and clean you. But it is a painful process to continually fail."
I know--I feel the pain, the shame, the despair.
"But you don't have to."
Jesus, I don't know if I can do it!
Because I've been trying to do this on my own for so long!
"And look where it has gotten you!! Pain. Dysfunction. Uncontrollable anger. Fear. Is it worth it, Jaime?"
"Then maybe it is time to try something new."
"I am not expecting you to be perfect, Jaime. As I said before, I will clean you up. But that does not take the responsibility away from you. You must choose to depend upon Me. Can you do that?"
I don't know...
"JAIME! You must make a choice. Will you choose Me?"
(no response)
"Jaime, you must let go of yourself. I can read your mind. I know you are still planning to try to fix yourself tomorrow. I cannot be fooled."
I'm scared.
"I know you are. Look, you can go to the gym, and you can be mindful of what you eat. But you must leave the fixing up to Me. You cannot erase your past--not the sin you've committed, nor the sin committed against you. You must allow Me to fix you, Jaime, if you ever want to be healed. Let Me take care of that."
"You can take My hand...and you can squeeze it as hard as you want. I'm not going anywhere....That's it....Now release your other hand. Let go of the branch of "personal strength" that you've been holding onto....That's My girl.....Now let's go get you cleaned up."

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