How do we judge the situations we find ourselves in?
I’m thinking about the times we find ourselves joyful or happy, depressed or sad, anxious or fearful, angry or vengeful. We find ourselves in different states at different times in our lives. How we judge those times and states may have a lot to do with our relationship to God.
Let’s think about that together. What are you feeling right now as you read this? How is your general mood? Are you busy and distracted? Are you in a listening or questioning mode? Do you feel like your day is going well, or are you upset that things aren’t quite the way you want them to be? It seems to me, how we feel in a moment affects everything that is happening to us, everything we are experiencing.
There are moments in our lives when we react certain ways. Sometimes our reactions seem most appropriate, sometimes they may seem a little off base, and other times we have reacted totally out of character for us. There are situations I’ve found myself in where, on later reflection I’m thoroughly ashamed of how I’ve acted. I review those times, I ask myself why what I said or did was so over the top? What was going on inside of me that brought forth those words, those actions?
Each of us should be in a constant state of learning. God did not make us perfect, God is not expecting everything we say and do to be perfect. God is completely aware of all our failings, all our temperament swings, all our emotions. After all, God made us the way we are. We are complex beings capable of such beauty, such wonder, such joy, such love. We are also capable of horrific things; ugly responses, meanness and pettiness, sadness and depression. Our states of being can run the gamut.
We are called to learn from ourselves. To discover all we are capable of, and to direct ourselves in ways that are pleasing to God, and beneficial to others. Life is not easy. We aren’t built for easy. We are created with a whole range of response to every situation we find ourselves. We are however, sentient beings, capable of reflection and learning. We are capable of modifying our behavior such that how we live out our lives can be pleasing to God who created us.
One of the questions I was asked when I was ordained many years ago rings in my ears even today. In examining the ordinands, the bishop asked, “Have you faith in Christ? Are you going on to perfection? Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?” These are important questions, not just for ordinands but for all persons seeking to live a life in Christ. They ring in my ears, especially the second and third questions. Can any of us really expect to be perfect? There’s a lot going on inside of us and outside of us. We react to the world around us in a myriad of ways, based on lots and lots of input. All of it serves to elicit whatever response we have to whatever situation and circumstance we find ourselves in. In the end however, we are responsible for what we say and do.
If we are truly going on to perfection, we are constantly assessing what we do. We are looking at and reflecting on our behavior, seeking to act better, to do better, to be better. Better reflections of the One we follow. Jesus is our example, we follow Jesus, and how we live and act are a reflection of the degree of our “followship,” if you will. Jesus lived his life on earth in concert with the very presence of God in him. That’s a hard act to follow, but we believe we are capable of bettering ourselves at all times. We are capable of perfect love, even though we rarely exhibit it. Even though we fail bunches of times at this kind of action, we should be striving for it at all times.
Again, its not easy in life to be who we are capable of being.
I’m still in the mode of this being a new year with new opportunities. I’m striving to be more focused on living a life pleasing to God. That means I have to judge every situation, and every response that comes from me. How am I feeling today? Am I sad? Will that color how I act with others? Am I angry, happy, depressed, joyful, feeling full of meanness and pettiness? When I approach others, or they approach me, how will I present myself? Will I take longer to consider what I say and do so that I can set aside my baser emotions and feelings, so that what comes out is more a reflection of the One who loves me and dwells within me? I’m thankful, my friends, that you don’t judge me too harshly when I fail at going on to perfection.
I’m thankful I am loved by God in spite of all my faults and failings. Because I’m thankful, I’m also grateful. My gratitude is such that I want to do better and be better because that’s who God has made me to be.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,