Right after I came back from Thailand, I had moved into a new house with new and old roommates and jumped back into my life in Gainesville, GA. But something was different. I felt as though I had gained some much needed perspective in Thailand, and because of that I was internally processing a lot. (not a normal practice for me)
When I do get into that mode of internally processing, I tend to shut out everyone around me that doesn’t understand what’s inside my head. That meant my roommates, who are also my friends and co-workers. This went on for two weeks. I began to feel isolated and alone. Rejection and bitterness were hanging around like long lost friends. I felt very misunderstood and irritated at everyone around me. I was distant and short with people. I had extreme mood swings that I hadn’t experienced since I was in college, and finally I broke.
I felt defeated, embarrassed, frustrated. And all I could do was talk to God and make decisions with my head, completely void of emotion, hoping my heart would follow. Decisions like forgiveness and repentance.
One day I woke up and the day was different. I had clarity and I wasn’t irritable and I wasn’t rejecting out of fear of being rejected. I walked into Monday morning worship feeling alive and free. I had somehow wrestled some nasty demons down with the grace of God. And I realized during worship that sometimes, that’s what life looks like. An exhausting, frustrating wresting match with the demons that seem to feed off your misery.
I was about to share this revelation with the group, when someone else went up. They started talking about victory and how the battle is finished and we have already won and we’re already free. And so I sat back down…not out of condemnation or fear, i just pondered the paradox that I was hearing.
Do we already have victory? Are all our demons already defeated? Do we still wrestle down demons like I had just experienced? Does the enemy sometimes prevail over us for a time?
I think the answer is yes. Yes to all of these questions at the same time.
In his book The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning says, “The Good News means we can stop lying to ourselves. The sweet sound of amazing grace saves us from the necessity of self-deception. It keeps us from denying that though Christ was victorious, the battle with lust, greed, and pride still rages within us. As a sinner who has been redeemed, I can acknowledge that I am often unloving, irritable, angry, and resentful with those closest to me.”
That is definitely me…the one who is often unloving, irritable, angry and resentful toward those closest to me. And then I am shocked and embarrassed when they see that I’m not perfect all the time. Only those closest to me actually see the clearest picture of the real me. The flawed, imperfect, incredibly desperate follower of Jesus in constant need of him.
I can find it hard give myself grace when my heart and my actions do not match up. I put such high standards on myself. And I get broken as I can’t live up to them, because as a ‘new creation’ who walks in victory, I should be able to. right?
But if I could just live in the broken and humble place, daily recognizing my need of Him and his grace…maybe I wouldn’t get so upset over my shortcomings and mood swings.
Thank you God for taking me just as I am: prideful, irritable and all. Thank you for giving me victory 2000 years ago when you defeated death once and for all. And thank you that I still wrestle down demons. Thank you that I am not perfect. Thank you for my need.
“The good man is sorry for the sins which have increased his need. He is not entirely sorry for the fresh need they have produced.” -C. S. Lewis