And today I will trust you with the confidence of a man who’s never known defeat, but tomorrow upon hearing what I did, I will stare at you in disbelief. Oh, inconsistent me, crying out for consistency.
~ Relient K
I had a birthday not long ago. On that bright, chilly spring day, I reached the ripe old age of twenty-four and resigned myself to the gloomy of business of being an adult. As I reflected upon my future, I chose a keyword for my twenty-fifth year—a one-word resolution to guide my actions, attitudes, words and thoughts for the next twelve months.
Within one day, I had deceived myself into doing things I should not have done—sinful things. My fine resolutions were effortlessly flattened by familiar temptations. So much for consistency.
Just one day after that, a bleak depression settled upon me. It lasted for days. While I was depressed, I could only scowl at my hopeful new keyword. Consistency? What an idea. In the paralyzing grip of depression, it was all I could do to function. I dragged myself along, hour by hour, grimly surprised every night that I had survived another day. I couldn’t be consistent. I could barely keep going.
Once again, consistency was an empty hope.
For years and years, my life has been largely driven by one all-important conviction. I could express it in a number of ways, but the simplest is this: I needed to get it right. No matter the circumstances, no matter my feelings, no matter what trials and challenges assailed me, I needed to get it right—to love God and to love others and to have faith and to be awesome. God’s grace had redeemed my life, sure, but it was up to me to live.
I wanted for years to reach a plateau or level of goodness and faith. It seemed logical that I would eventually learn every lesson, overcome every temptation, cast off every burden and consistently live a good, contented life. There had to be some secret, some attitude, some perspective or paradigm to make everything click and all the pieces fall into place.
Thus I tried out a long series of resolutions, attitudes, philosophies and personas in my quest to be consistent. I’ve always known I can’t be perfect, but consistency seemed like a reasonable goal.
Now I’m not so sure.
I’ve written many times about my near-obsessive desire to be “good enough,” whatever the heck that means. God’s grace is another subject I’ve discussed repeatedly. My conclusion is always the same. God declares, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
More clearly than more than ever before, I understand that weakness isn’t merely a sinful nature. It’s helplessness. Weakness is waking up on some days hardly able to stand, let alone work or write or pray. Weakness is never, ever reaching my long-sought plateau of consistency. Weakness is struggling and making mistakes and never quite getting it right.
Weakness is space for God to work.
What next? Well, another blog post, I guess. Check back next time for the conclusion to my thoughts on weakness, grace and where in blazes I should go from here.