I used to think that, because my Christian testimony was so “boring,” I was obligated to make sure people knew that no, I wasn’t really perfect. I’d play up any angst I may have had growing up in an attempt to to assure them that, no, my life wasn’t perfect.
This was silly for a couple of reasons.
I was assuming, for one, that I did seem perfect to people, which is incredibly conceited in itself. I was also assuming there’s comparisons between testimonies–that there are better testimonies to God’s grace than others. There are more attention-grabbing conversions, I suppose, where God declares loudly that there’s no way peoples’ lives could change without Him orchestrating the whole thing. I love hearing stories like the apostle Paul’s, that feature blinding light and the audible voice of Jesus.
But here’s the deal: I’m not sure about all the distinctions society likes to make between “seriousness” of sin. And I don’t think God’s grace can be graded on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being “saved Jo at age five from her lying ways” and 10 being, well, “saved Paul from his life dedicated to martyring Christ’s followers.” All sin is just a reflection of our natural rebellion against our Creator, and it follows that all grace is a miracle. I say sometimes that I tend to struggle with “quieter sins,” things like fear, envy, and a refusal to trust God. Can you always see that in my life? Nope, because I disguise it when I can.
I am not at all bad at acting good.
I talk a lot about fear and worry on this blog. And when I say I struggle with envy, I mean, you name it, I’ve coveted it. I’m constantly fighting thoughts of comparison with other people–even other peoples’ relationships with God. But lately I’ve envied one thing in particular.
I envy people who know what they want.
Right now, my plan for my life looks an awful lot like “no plan.” It sounds a lot like “let’s wait and see,” and less like the confident college student I sometimes wish desperately I could be. And sometimes I’m fine with “waiting and seeing,” and I’m happy to live in the present, rather than worry about the future. That’s cool.
It’s just that I don’t always know what I want. Or maybe it’s that I want a lot of things that I can’t have. I want things that conflict with each other. I want to learn everything. And I want to keep the curiosity I had when I was younger. I want to explore the world, and I want nothing more than to know this little part of the world really well.
Maybe the thing I want most is to know a secret. The secret I’m talking about it in Philippians 4, where Paul says he has “learned the secret of being content.” I’ve come back to this particular chapter time after time, with his encouragement to “rejoice in the Lord always.” I guess I’m contradicting myself again when I say that there are two things I want most: to know what is that I want, and to know how to be content (which is another way of saying I want not to want anything other than what God gives me).
…I’m not really sure if this will make sense to anyone but me. Oh well.
This is where God’s grace comes in, because I see a little in these moments what I would be without Him working in my life. Envious? Yes. Fearful? Yes. Infuriatingly perfectionist? Selfish? Impatient? All of these describe what I’d be without Christ, and what I’m sometimes to revert to. They’re quiet sins, and I can sometimes disguise them so other people don’t see them. But I know that I can’t ever be content on my own–I’ll always be chasing after unattainable and confused dreams.
Isn’t that where Philippians 4:13 is supposed to go? People have been seeking after the secret for ages now, how to be fulfilled, and Paul goes and says it’s only through God that contentment–in any situation–can be found.
As always, thanks for reading, especially something as rambly as this post in particular. If you have any thoughts on Philippians 4 or on being content or, really, anything, leave a comment:)