Here it is July and this is the first Ramblings I have written this year. I’m glad writing this was not a New Year’s resolution, or I would feel even more remorse over the lack of accomplishment!
This morning I was reading a man’s reflections on his desire to do good, but the constant struggle that emerged as he found himself frequently not doing what he wanted to do, but, in fact, doing the opposite. He was reflecting upon the constant struggle to do the things we want or believe we should do, the struggle to be the kind of person we want to be, while at the same time again and again we find ourselves doing or being something we are no so proud to do or be.
I find this a common theme in my life. It seems that the closer we get to being what we really feel, deep within our being, we should be, the harder it is to resist the things that pull us away from being that person.
Paul, the writer of what I was reading this morning, in the book of Romans, had a huge impact in the world of his day. He was part of a major shift in the way that many people thought and felt about themselves as he shared his own experiences of the impact of Jesus in his life. And yet, he talked of the struggle he faced to be the kind of person that all his experiences made him want to be.
There are a few, perhaps disjointed, things that give me hope while living in the tension of this challenge – the challenge of too-often doing what I don’t want to do, and not being who I really want to be.
- I suspect that the more aware I become of who I really want to be, the more I am challenged by who I actually am. So, maybe, that means I am actually in a better place because I am moving from the place of contentment with what I am, to a place of seeing and believing for a better me.
- The more I want to be different, the more I am challenged to look beyond myself for the capacity to become that better me. In other words, I become more open in my life to the presence of a God who offers strength I would not have on my own. Sometimes that strength is offered through the people who surround me, sometimes from God directly.
- I find great comfort and encouragement in the conviction that God accepts me as I am, not just as I think I ought to be (or even how I think God thinks I ought to be).
I don’t know if you have seen the film ‘As Good as it Gets’, but in that film there comes the following scene featuring Melvin, an obsessive compulsive, played by Jack Nicholson:
Melvin Udall: I've got a really great compliment for you, and it's true.
Carol Connelly: I'm so afraid you're about to say something awful.
Melvin Udall: Don't be pessimistic, it's not your style. Okay, here I go: Clearly, a mistake. I've got this, what - ailment? My doctor, a shrink that I used to go to all the time, he says that in fifty or sixty percent of the cases, a pill really helps. I *hate* pills, very dangerous thing, pills. Hate. I'm using the word "hate" here, about pills. Hate. My compliment is, that night when you came over and told me that you would never... all right, well, you were there, you know what you said. Well, my compliment to you is, the next morning, I started taking the pills.
Carol Connelly: I don't quite get how that's a compliment for me.
Melvin Udall: You make me want to be a better man.
I think this captures, maybe just a little, how Paul felt as he wrote that bit in Romans, and how I feel about what God adds to my life. God makes me want to be a better man, a better person…