A Most Painful Question
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalms 139:23-24
I knew a man, many years ago, who took what he wanted and did as he pleased. As I was a timid people-pleaser at the time, I admired him. It was not an opinion based on morality, I just thought it was cool. Looking back, I don’t know that I purposefully tried to emulate him, but if I listen to the voices around me, I must admit that I now often act like that man.
I’ve had several people close to me indicate that one of the most vexing aspects of my personality is that I do what I want. It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. When I was first confronted with this idea, I was pretty sure it wasn’t true. I’m not selfish. I’m just misunderstood. You’re being oversensitive. As time wore on though, and other voices joined in the opinion, I had to start considering the possibility that it was painfully true.
Introspection and self-awareness are difficult. It’s hard enough to change a behavior that we are aware of, but if our pride blinds us to the existence of a shortcoming, then transformation is impossible. This is why the writer of today’s passage prayed for self-awareness. God show me what is keeping me from being who you want me to be.
It’s a painful exercise, but if we call ourselves Christians, then we must follow Jesus’ command to deny ourselves and follow him (Luke 9:23). To do this, we must be aware of our faults. No one likes to catalogue all of his flaws, but if we want to grow spiritually, we must continually address whatever is holding us back.
I must strive for painful honesty, asking myself, others, and God what it is that I need to abandon to follow Christ. Some struggles will go, and some will stay. For me, I must continually work on not doing whatever I want. I must daily abandon my will for God’s.