I’ve felt a bit hostile towards this new year. Maybe it’s the cold I’ve had since 2008, or the fact that January 1st is as arbitrary a date to mark the passage of time, as Christmas is to mark the birth of Christ, but I really wasn’t “feeling it”. It could’ve also been that I didn’t see anyone other than George Stroumboulopoulos ring in the new year (I like the Hour, but it really was an anti-climactic countdown after a rather boring interview with Sarah Palin (though, to be fair, I couldn’t hear most of it)).
But nonetheless, after a low day of mostly sleeping (“getting well”) and watching an Inconvenient Truth on tv (that movie is basically about how Powerpoint can change the world, far as I’m concerned), something in my mind kind of, turned over. I decided to write. I love to write. But I haven’t done that much lately. I haven’t been doing a lot of things I love to do lately.
I have a long list, of things I wish I did. And you, Mr. Blog, are where I will share this list.
If I were to be who I wanted to be…
I would play the piano
I would floss my teeth
I would get up early each morning & see the sun rise.
I would watch less tv
I would work harder at work.
I would feel powerful, not weak.
I wouldn’t hate anymore
I would spend an hour each day with God reading & praying & journalling.
I would sell my books on craigslist.
I would learn how to drive.
I would cook meals at home and go grocery shopping regularly and plan meals ahead of time.
I wouldn’t be lazy.
I would vacuum and dust and clean every week.
I would learn how to dance.
Ah, to be myself. What does that image of God look like, unmired?
I feel like I can see some really positive things available to me – knowing God, being a good person, achieving perfection that is in line with Christ that involves me being more of myself, less afraid, stronger by being more reliant on God.
But I don’t know how to get there.
I’ve often said that God will be the bridge to where we need to be. We can’t do it on our own, but with Christ, we can get there.
But I don’t even know, right now, how to get to the point where I’m walking on that bridge. I know trying to get from point A to B is impossible on my own (A=where/who I am, B=where/who I’m supposed to be), but I feel like I’m not even at the point where I know how to rely on God, to turn to him, to trust him, to have faith, or whatever it is you want to call it. It’s as if I’ve been managing to just hang out on the A side of life for so long I can’t even find the bridge to get to point B. I don’t have the drive to read my Bible, or the passion for prayer, that I know I need to get to where I want to be: a place where I’m filled with faith and peace and strength.
What I need is in the Bible, but how can I bring myself to read it?
What I need is in prayer, but I can’t bring myself to concentrate long enough to pray, to even get out of bed to get down on my knees, to even take the time out from work to go to the prayer room (yes, my work has a prayer room and I rarely go).
And I’m terrified, that I’m settling. Actually, I know I’m settling, I’m just terrified, that for once in my life, I will be satisfied with settling. And I won’t cry because I’m sorry for what I do, I will just cry because I feel so very powerless to change.
There is a verse in the Bible that may or may not be relevant but it’s popping up in my mind so I feel like I should probably quote it right about now. It’s Mark 9:24, but here’s the context, the story that goes with it:
“O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
” ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!“
This is in Mark. I looked up my Manuscript study of this passage.
What I had forgotten (it’s been a few years), was that this kid was a metaphor for Israel (Israel is a metaphor for me). Another neat thing is that Jesus asks the same thing to the crowd (of Jews) as he does to the father of the boy, “How long?” They were in the same state, a position of unbelief. The result of unbelief in this faithless generation, is judgment, similar to how the boy possessed since childhood keeps getting tossed into fire and water (images of judgment); these are things that try to destroy us, things that test our faith. We’re either destroyed by them, or changed. We either believe, or suffer.
After the father prays (talks) to Jesus, the spirit is cast out. Most think the boy is dead. But he comes back to life (sound familiar?), and Jesus commands the evil spirit never to return again. You know, those Jews, they waited for a Messiah since the childhood of their nation, and that father had watched his son suffer with being possessed since the boy’s childhood, so it’s understandable that when Jesus does show up, no one has an easy time believing that things will change, that Jesus is who he says he is, that Jesus is the Messiah.
So, uselessly, the father and the scribes and the disciple had had their eyes on the problem (they were arguing before Jesus walks up), but Jesus shifts the father’s focus to his own faith. To his unbelief. He talks with the man who is suffering, and diagnoses the father’s illness: Unbelief. Prescription? Prayer: “Help my unbelief.”
The disciples asked why they couldn’t cast out the demon. This wasn’t a new demon, this isn’t a super demon. But the thing in their way is just plain, old fashioned, unbelief. Maybe you’ve heard this before, but the thing that changes, when we pray, isn’t God, but ourselves.
Fear and unbelief are synonymous. If I truly believed, would I be so afraid that I am where I am and always will be?
I think there are demons I’ve struggled with since childhood (my first big depression, after all, was when I was eleven). I bet there is an attitude within me that says things like, “If you can, take pity, and help me.”
I think right now, Jesus is drawing attention to my heart, and away from my problems. Because at the root, it’s unbelief that keeps me where I am, and prevents me from being where I could and very well should be.
That’s probably why I refused to make any sort of resolution this year. I haven’t seen change in so long why should I believe this year is any different?
But where am I looking? At myself, or at my saviour?
I want to cast out this unbelief. How do I do that? To quote Jesus,
(This kind cannot be driven out by anything but) Prayer.
God, I believe, help my unbelief.