The ironic thing about some of the lessons I’ve learned is that I haven’t really learned them.
Sometimes, I know things without understanding them. I accept a lesson and then forget it. When I’m reminded of some lessons, I understand them a little more fully. Learning becomes an incremental process.
Thus I’m going to quote myself quoting C.S. Lewis and say,
Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, “You must do this. I can’t.”
Living by grace doesn’t mean merely trying to do good things, says dear old Lewis,
But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.
In other words: Stop trying to be good enough and depend on God’s grace.
My problem is a paradox. I have made depending on God’s grace just another facet of trying to be good enough. As I said last time, I wanted to be consistent. I wanted to depend on God’s grace consistently. Grace became another weapon in my battle to get it right.
Maybe grace is simply permission to stop fighting.
I’m giving up. My dreams of reaching a nice, level plateau of angelic goodness and contentment are gone. My life will be disordered, flawed and messy. I shall sin and struggle and make mistakes. (Please note these are a statements of fact, not of intention.) There will be days of depression and grief and anxiety, and nothing I can do to prevent them.
What does this mean for my day-to-day life? Honestly… not much. I’ll keep living, working, praying, reading, writing, playing video games, drinking too much coffee and failing to act like a solemn, serious adult.
As I do these things, I’ll try not to hold myself to the self-imposed standards of years past. I won’t replay and review things constantly in my mind, and I certainly won’t agonize over mistakes. By accepting I shan’t be perfect, I can stop trying—better yet, I can try in that new, less worried way.
I’m giving up.