Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bummed But Not Despairing

I’ve been bummed the last couple of days. Learning new things about oneself isn’t always a happy moment. But the point of this blog isn’t about what bummed me out. It’s about what happened after I was bummed out. In the not so distant past I think that a situation like this would have resulted in an emotional nosedive. Life would have gotten darker for me. But that didn’t happen. And there are reasons for that. First, I have come to understand myself better. I understand my soul and how it acts. I was able to see the fork in the road. Right fork: gloominess. Left fork: sunnier disposition. And I was able to see that I had a choice to make. I could just let myself react as I naturally would, and I would be on that right fork. And life would get dark. Or I could choose the left fork. Now, to be honest, I’m not yet at the point of seeing the fork in the road before I choose a direction. But I can realize that there was a fork in the road just a few steps into the right fork. In one sense, I’ve already chosen a course. I’ve responded as I naturally would. But I know that I can undo that choice, take a few steps back on the path and go down the other path instead. And that has made a big difference.

It helps that I understand myself better. I know that I can easily go down that right fork. You might say that it’s my default mode. But as important as self-understanding is, by itself it will not work. What makes this work is Jesus. He has taught me that He cares about me and that He can do something about my life. So, expectant prayer is key. When I come to see what’s going on, I pray. Basically, I pray for His protection and His help. And Jesus, being the good Savior that He is, deals with the situation. He makes it possible for me to undo my choice for the dark path and to choose the other, sunnier path. And, if truth be known, it’s also Him quietly tapping me on the shoulder, asking if I’m sure that I wanted to take the right fork a few steps back. The difference now is that He has taught me how to hear Him.

Our souls are still twisted up by sin. But we do not have to be enslaved to their foolish choices. As we get to know ourselves and as we learn how to listen and pray with faith, things that Jesus teaches, we can live sunnier lives. And that means that I can rejoice even as I learn difficult things about myself. And that, of course, will make Jesus look good – which is the point of it all.

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