Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Intentional Release

Yesterday I engaged an inward battle that I am so weary of fighting.
I was battling me.
I am my own worst enemy. The devil most likely laughs, chuckles and chortles on Monday mornings. His glee? He is convinced he has beaten me with the same old strategies and schemes. He just seems to rotate them, make them look random and new.
He knows my weaknesses and seems to be able to calculate how to cause me to remain in the gyre of far too introspective thinking.
The enemy possesses a twisted sense of patience. He knows if he simply waits long enough I will tie myself up in my own self-pitying knots. He holds his pestilent little minions back and waits until my own naysaying thoughts begin to trip me. Once they start then he sends in his horde. His millennia of experience with human nature has taught him we will hang ourselves. He does not wage full war for then we would come fully awake. We would be alert and aware of what he is doing. Full war is not the daily strategy with Believers. Just persistence.
Yesterday the battle was not fierce just persistent.
My haphazard morning reading was Psalm 24. Oh, glorious psalm. One of my very favorites. I stayed on the words be lifted up you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. I looked around my house. Laundry piled in mountains waiting to be folded. Dishes balanced precariously in the sink. Blankets puddled at the end of the couches.  Kitchen counters littered with last night’s dishes, the morning’s breakfast and the afternoon’s lunch (seems that all we do is eat). The garbage bag leaked on the way out the door. Something spilled on the couch.
Twenty library books are due, but I haven’t even started them. There’s a devotional I began with fervor in September because I just knew it was the right one. The finish date would have been Christmas Day, but it lays in the floor with the cover bent back and the pages rounding, and I haven’t written in it since the third day of December. A book a dear friend highly recommended still sits on the shelf and dust has started to collect along with this obligatory feeling of I should have read that a month ago. My journal remains empty (though I really can’t complain about that because most of my words come here now).
And I want the King of glory to come in? Are you kidding? I wouldn’t want my friends, best friends, to come into this mess. And the real thought, the root of it all, is that my inside domain—the interior house is just as messy or more. I don’t think I will share the state of the interior of the house.
Then I realize I keep asking myself Tamera, a brand new year has arrived. What are you going to do? What are you planning? What are you…
Everyone, and I do mean pretty much everyone, is talking about the New Year. Fresh goals. Strong resolutions. Solid plans. There’s discussion of revolutionary diets and reading plans and memorization projects.
I am in the middle of it all just looking around in bewilderment.  Someone said to me I can’t even keep my house clean I’m such a failure. I thought if that constitutes failure then I have whatever is below an F on the grading scale. Even more? I think if people saw the messes inside of me, the ugliness that glares at me in my reflection in the mirror, that would be true failure.
 And there it is.
There’s the truth in a small noisy pail—clattering around like rocks: if people saw the mess.
We worry about what people see rather than what people know. People seeing the mess implies they will assess the mess and we will fall completely short.
Early Monday morning I began the comparison and the caring way too much what others think game (see, the enemy just has to wait. I hang myself).
The ferociousness of these two frames of mind is subtle; they are like water. Water erodes whatever it touches if given time. We talk about living parallel lives with others, and when we say that we are comparing and assessing the parallel lines of achievement and success and accomplishment. And someone is coming up short. And we wash away a little more of the banks of ourselves and others.
Comparison implies we are never good enough. When we compare there are only two roads we can trod:
One—we are superior, more advanced; more whatever than what or who we are being compared to or
Two—we are inferior, less advanced; less whatever than what or who we are being compared to.
Comparison is always, always a lose-lose situation.
Comparison sets us up to fail. When we set all these goals, plans and diets often we are setting ourselves up for failure. Should we not even bother then? NO! We need goals. We need something set in front of us to compel us onward, to propel us forward.
But what happens in February when our steam and motivation is gone? When we are tired of eating salads or trying to create good habits or attempting to swallow down the Word of God in chunks (even small ones) and they lodge in our throat?  What do we do with the feelings and thoughts we have when we look around and assess that everyone else is doing so much better than we are? What happens in March when, once again, we have failed?
And that pitiful litany of thought and questions made me understand my word for 2014.
I want to be released.
And I want to release.
I want to release comparison. I want to release the endless fear of others’ assessment of me.
I want God to release me from the captivity of my own making—the snares of my own contrivances.
I want release from the battle against myself.
I want to release myself to live, and to live abundantly.
Intentional Release.
Willed, designed and purposed escape and freedom from these weights that hinder me.
I want release from my often warped way of thinking, release from my tainted philosophies and crooked trains of thought. I want my thoughts taken captive ONLY by Christ—for every argument (my own, others’ and the enemy’s) to be demolished. I want anything in my interior pattern and structure of thinking (therefore, behaving) that sets itself against God’s truth to be demolished.
God does not set us up to fail. He sets us up to be conformed to the image and likeness of Jesus. From glory to glory. In increments.
My word for the year?

(Thank you, Christy. Three of us know what a role you played in the particular choice of this word.)

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