Posted by: karanoel | January 31, 2011

From the inside out

“Blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.” Jeremiah 17:7

A perfect start to the day

Saturday began as I wish so many others would… on a hike with a friend. The sun was shining. Yellow flowers lined the path. The ocean winked from between the hills. There was an energy to the conversation; a connectedness. The morning ended in prayer, sealing the experience like a tasty snack in a ziploc bag.

During our time together, before a kind young park ranger made us turn around (did I mention the trail was closed?), we hit on an interesting topic. It was about how God will not make our decisions for us. Even though he knows what would be best in any given situation, he will not override the free will he gave us. Because that would only create external change, and leave an unchanged heart. And, if I’m right in thinking that “whitewashed tomb” wasn’t a compliment, God is utterly uninterested in the way things look on the outside and concerned only with the heart.

Cole has struggled with his study habits, which has resulted in iffy grades. I used to do his projects with him (okay, for him). It was even a family thing at times (wouldn’t you say we did a rockin’ good job on the mission project, dad?). Projects are fun for me so it was partly self-serving, but I also just really wanted him to do well. So he would wait until the last minute and I, the faithful mom would come to the rescue, saving the day (or the grade), and make it all better.

The problem was it never made anything better. It actually made it worse because it reinforced the idea that he could leave things to the last minute and trust that it would all work out. Because, from his experience, it always did. I was giving a false compassion, alleviating a temporary discomfort while encouraging a behavior that would hobble him in life.

I grew up a little and stopped doing his work. I let go of the immediate concern of grades, except as a measure of what was going on beneath the surface. I learned to set up consequences for poor grades – not as a way to shame him, but as a way to help him make the choices that will benefit him in school, work, and relationship. Has he improved his study habits and grades? Absolutely. Does he always choose what’s right? No. Is he learning how to live well? I think so.

In a similar – but far more divine – way, God doesn’t impose his will on us. Nor does he leave us to our own defenses. Like the loving parent he is, he lets our wrong choices lead to their natural end and our good choices lead to theirs. Will he be manipulated into a false compassion, rescuing us from our distress? Nope. Will he come alongside us, showing us how to walk out of our distress? Absolutely. Will we be changed so that we are no longer like crooked-wheeled shopping carts that are forever going in the wrong direction? I think so.

_____________________

On a totally separate note…

I was called out today on the back-peddling that went on in yesterday’s blog. You know, the one about the crazy big mountain just being a metaphor for trust or faith? Well, the friend who invited me thinks I said I would actual climb the darn thing, and pointed out that it would be more powerful to climb an actual mountain and parallel it with faith, than just talk about it.

So I pinky swore* that I would indeed climb Mt. Whitney.** Or at least try. Do I have faith for this? From my max level of “3” on the elliptical… no. From never having been at 14,505 feet outside of a pressurized cabin… no. From not being particularly fond of the unknown… no. Is that pretty much everything I was saying in yesterday’s post? Dagnabit, yes.

*It is questionable whether Pinky swears are legally binding after junior high.

** This agreement is contingent on the promised participation of Autumn, Ashley, and Alex.


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