Thursday, August 9, 2012

Good Misgivings

There are others who are vexed with themselves when they observe their own imperfectness, and display impatience that is not humility; so impatient are they about this that they would fain be saints in a day.  Many of these persons purpose to accomplish a great deal and make grand resolutions; yet, as they are not humble and have no misgivings about themselves, the more resolutions they make, the greater is they fall and the greater their annoyance, since they have not the patience to wait for that which God will give them when it pleases Him; this likewise is contrary to the spiritual meekness aforementioned, which cannot be wholly remedied save by the purgation of the dark night.  Some souls on the other hand are so patient as regards the progress which they desire that God would gladly see them less so.  - St. John of the Cross

I've just gotten back from a very full vacation with my family in the Pacific Northwest.  It was good to fill my lungs with the red-wood-scented, cool, fresh air that is simply more humane that what we breathe in Orlando.  Also it was a great chance to drink as much good tasting water as possible before coming back to the "flat with a hint of sulfur" stuff we have here.

It was also really fun to be around my family.  They are such a joyous crowd, bringing out the best in everyone, although my sisters-in-law think otherwise about us boys.  But laughing about flatulence important stuff for guys right?

Here's my issue with vacations: they end.  And all the worries I thought I was leaving are here were still waiting for me when I get back.  And why do they have with devilish smirks on their nasty little faces?  Melissa thinks vacations can serve as a sort of reset button for life.  But in my case, I'm still here with all of my problems when I get back, so it's difficult for me to see it the same way.

So the quote above has me thinking that perhaps I fall into the category of one who would "feign be a saint in a day".  I would love to come back and approach life perfectly, without ever a misstep.  But life is not like that.  Life will have you sinning in no time, frustrated by your own frustrations and pleading uncle to God over and over.  At least that seems to be my experience.

God seems to allow life to do this.  He seems to want us to be challenged.  He wants us to be humble.  He wants us, as St. John says, to have misgivings.

I don't think its that God is mean.  That's not it at all.  So delete the "pleading uncle" image.  I think we find our own problems and consequences.  But I believe that God wants us to grow not only in our new righteousness and identity as his children, but in our misgivings about ourselves and where we'll go without him.

I find this notion of having misgivings strangely comforting.  For it allows me to not freak out so much when I sin.  It allows me not to be so surprised.  It allows me to hope not in myself and my methods and strategies, but in the active and real work of Christ.

It allows me to kind of smile and wag my head at myself, seeing me the way God must see me, all the while knowing that he'll give me just what I need when I need it.  And at the same time he'll keep me thirsty for more goodness and more rightness.  And I guess it'll help keep me real.