starving for substance

Pain or the Hangover?

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on December 17, 2010

The tea I was drinking at 9pm is now making it hard to sleep so I started clicking around the right column to view some old posts and I came across some gems I’m particularly proud of.

This one is about eating too much fiber and what happens afterward:

This rebuked me like crazy:

And this is the best thing I have ever written:

I would actually end up failing the class I wrote that for for other reasons. As I go over these entries and remember what was going on in life at those times, it’s saddening. I look at what I was going through, remember my internal condition, and read what I wrote and see virtually nothing different from what was then and what is now. The whole time I thought I was running and now I look down at my feet and see a rapidly spinning treadmill to only look up again and see myself visibly older but otherwise unchanged.

A wise old lady who prays a lot and sits in the back of a pan Asian campus church in Champaign once said that people look back at themselves and get discouraged because they don’t see any progress. When this happens we need to remember that as sinful people, change is slow and painstaking. Then she probably laughed at my Korean.

I honestly thought this wouldn’t be me. I thought I was smart and understood myself and could change myself quickly to become what I wanted to be instantly. Folly yes, but attainable is also what I thought.

The worst thing about pride is that when you see it, you don’t look at it because, well, you’re proud. The thing about pride is that you’re too proud to admit you’re proud so you never look at your pride because you’re too proud to admit that you’re proud and around and around you go, ignoring circumstances that should break and change you, convinced what you’re doing is right.

They say pride goes before a fall but how much pride do you have to have to fall and still be proud? Both staggering and depressing amounts. I seem to have both high and low pride and enough left over that I (naturally) want to name it after myself. Steve Pride. So much pride you’re convinced that pride is beneath you. Even to think I am a special case is indicative of the pride here.

So yes, thanks to blogs and journals, I can look back and see the years and see how little I’ve progressed. Now I can realize what I thought I was above. And the natural reaction is to run away. Avoid it and hope it goes away instead of confronting and dealing with it. Like I’ve always done before. As much as I bashed Kanye’s lyrical effort in his latest album, he had a clever line in a song: “The plan was to drink until the pain over/ But what’s worse, the pain or the hangover?” The problem with the quick fix is that the problem you’re left with in the end is often times worse than the problem you tried to run from. I guarantee you, wake up with a hangover the first thing you say is “I am never drinking again” followed quickly by “I just want to die” followed by very real thoughts that your head will explode. So what’s worse, the pain or the hangover? Facing your problems head on or skipping over them only to end up in agony later, with the problems you left behind still waiting for you.

The answer is obvious but it’s so often left undone. I have a whole laundry list of character flaws I just stopped bothering to deal with because I figured after enough time, they’d go away as I “grew through the situations I lived through.” It’s difficult to take a long look in the mirror and confront what you see, to go through the personal assessment and be brutally honest with yourself, and not become prideful in the process.

I remember moments being so broken when I realized what I was and now to think back at those times I cringe. I cringe to think that I saw myself like that because that’s clearly not how I see myself now. Before, I saw myself as broken and unable to do anything if not for the help of God. Now I see myself as capable and ready, not necessarily the best, but surely good enough. Of course God will use me, I have a “can do” attitude and a healthy disregard for societal norms. Doubt me? I’ll just prove you wrong. This is Steve 2.0, a better version. Why would I ever want to look at Steve 1.0 except to see how much better I am now. Yet the evidence is irrefutable, it’s written all over this site and indicts me with their cold fingers of reason and truth. “You are no better now, in fact you are worse.”

Yet that’s not the message of the Gospel. The Gospel message is that my pride is there but my pride can no longer condemn me. My flaws are ever present and always real but my flaws can no longer condemn me. And in the midst of my faults and flaws, no matter what I or others can say about me, the Gospel message soars over all with the message that Christ has set me free. That there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. So why do I continue to condemn myself? Because it feels better that I suffer a little bit before coming to repentance. Because if I suffer, then I served my penalty and I justify myself. By condemning myself and suffering if even for a moment, I show complete disregard for the message of the cross.

So the temptation remains. Every sin the Bible illuminates I’m tempted to be discouraged, to self-flagellate, but that cheapens grace and that cheapens the Gospel. If one thing I’ve learned, I do not experientially understand what it means by true Christian freedom. How does this change the future? It means I no longer have to regret the past but that I’m free to always and constantly run towards the throne of grace with boldness.

But it does not end there. I don’t think we should confuse Salvation with Redemption. We are saved to participate in the redeeming work that is still going on in this world. I think we place far too much emphasis on our daily walk with God than on our calling as a salt and light to this world. Don’t get me wrong, a daily walk with God is important and essential and necessary. But far too often we wring our hands saying “I just want to be faithful” or “I’m afraid I’ll fall away” and so in turn we respond with constant application to do our QTs and forget about purposefully and intentionally engaging the culture. If the early church was as concerned with their personal walk with God as we are, then Christianity wouldn’t have made it out of the first century. They not only walked with God but they died for Him too.

“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

It’s late so I think this is done. I changed direction like three times in this post and probably went a little too personal. I think I’m going to go back to handwritten journaling. And so, with a blog that started out wanting to be only about poop has ended up being about anything but. On hiatus again until further notice.

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