Written whilst touring Europe.
Too many corrections. Faith—I lack it. “Here is the secret: [sage wisdom].” Yes I hear it! I am excited! But two days later, I have forgotten and the rush of life and chores and sin and shame and friends needing my help and Bible study and chores and getting food and paying bills and chores and cleaning the house and church and friends needing my help and chores get in the way.
Money—I am selfish. I know nothing about sacrificing my money. I can barely figure out what that means. Is money to be enjoyed, but not loved? It is not an end, but a means, surely. To what? Myself? The church? The poor? What of the poor’s money? Should they enjoy it or give it away themselves? Why should I not give away all my money except for what I can barely live on?
Wisdom—I don’t have it. Maybe I can say some things now and then, but wisdom cannot be found within me. I am the man who truly possesses many subtleties but has not wisdom. What good things can I really say about the important things of life?
Credibility—Who would believe me when even I doubt myself? How can I ask to be respected? How can I ask to be listened to? What do I have to put forward that makes me a credible source of information? I am an emotional boy who does not have a systematic view of life, who does not read the news, who does not know what he thinks about half of the important issues of life, who is behind on the ideological trends, who is surprised to find he is terrible at directions time and time again, whose political convictions change from day to day, whose interpretation of the news is essentially, “No one has any idea except for a select few,” who freezes up when challenged, who misses the obvious every day.
Knowledge—Much of my life has been the pursuit of this, but the more I try to attain it, the less I feel I have ever had it. I never feel that I have knowledge, and this is almost certainly because it is an idol. My various educations (high school, church, life, college, family, friends, culture, mentors, my own reading of Scripture) have been so wildly conflicting that an utterance of my own is a physical pain resulting in headaches. Everyone thinks everyone else is a fool. Who is right?
Stability—I have this least of all, and how can I find knowledge without stability? My stability is a deep groaning and collapse into a belief I confess with my mouth and believe in my heart. A good starting point perhaps, but not an ability to live in this vale, or a steadfastness to do the work set out for me.
Humility—Ha! Sit down, be humble, self. But I feel better and smarter and more insightful and more worthy to be followed than everyone else, when laughably I am the least qualified to feel that way. No, not a tricky reverse humility to sabotage you and make you think I am actually humble—let me state my sin clearly, without some amount of prettying up the vulnerability: my feeling is of resentment whenever someone else is praised as worthy of being followed. It is sickeningly competitive, and racked with the desire to be worshiped like God.
Joy—Joy is being able to delight in someone else’s joy, and I cannot do this. When another introduces to me their delight, my soul seeks out a reason to show how it is stupid. What is this!? Or, it feels oppressed because it feels like it is expected to like something. I remember this since I was a child.
Self-forgetfulness—If only, if only. This is the path to humility and joy, quoth the good reverend Keller. But when I try to begin, my doctrine fades into obscurity, and I am a wave, washing on the seas, blown this way and that by whatever people think around me. I clearly am misinterpreting something.
Scripture—I sometimes read it, I rarely love it, my brain often moves into liberal Christianity that immediately points out how Paul contradicts himself and is just making stuff up as he goes along. It is no sacred book I trust, but an ancient set of potential wisdoms. Doubt has worked his way deeper into my heart than I would have liked.
Community—“Hey, how are you doing?” “Oh just fine, you know. Some stuff, but it’s all good.” No, actually I’m falling apart a lot, and have been for a while now. Confusion is inside of me again. I feel less strong the older I get, and I want to run away from everything and live in a hole until I figure this life thing out.
Oh Lord, too many corrections, too many corrections I have felt recently. Have mercy on me, a sinner! If you counted iniquities, who could stand? I know I cannot—let me never forget it. Let me never forget, and guide me into progress in these areas, oh my Abba, my Father. I need you so desperately. Help me. Guide me. Be with me. I need you.