The Hard Road

Church tonight was good. It had me thinking about a lot of different things. I think I might get two or three blog posts out of the thoughts that were running through my head tonight (if I can remember them that is). However, as I sat in church today I thought back to some of the lessons that I’ve learned in my life, a number of them learned through this very church, and many more learned in other ways. My entire life I’ve had to learn things the hard way. I’m a stubborn bastard an awful lot of the time, and it makes everything take that much longer. Sometimes I wonder why God made me this way. Honestly, thinking back, if there was any one thing that I could change about myself, it would be this need to learn things the hard way.

I’d like to say that I learn my lessons better, or that they stick with me longer, but honestly I’m really not sure this is true. There are a few lessons that I’ll never forget (generally the hardest ones), but many that I’ve had to learn multiple times. All in all, I’ve had a lot of lessons that I probably shouldn’t have needed, and this habit of always learning things the hard way has resulted in a lot of pain in my life. Not to say that this pain hasn’t lead to good things, personal growth, etc. However, if there was anything that I could change about myself, it would be this. I would love to be able to learn my lessons the easy way, without the incredible pain that goes with doing everything the hard way. I would thoroughly enjoy being less stubborn, less prideful, and more teachable. It’s something that I’ve been working on for years, and often failing at, and I’m still trying to be less stubborn and more teachable.

Honestly, I’m not really sure that I have much more to say in this post. I started it with every intention of writing something deep and meaningful about learning things the hard way, and how pride causes a lot of pain, which is entirely true. However, there isn’t a whole lot more that needs to be said than that. I’ve made some giant mistakes, and I’ve learned valuable lessons from them, and I always say that I wouldn’t change anything about my life. I understand that God made me the way he did for a reason, and I know that he’s working his will in me. I know that this is something that he is using to make me a better person… still, sometimes I wish he didn’t have to. I wish he had made me… perfect. Actually reading this I realize how ridiculous it sounds. We are all fallen people, all in need of a savior, and all in need of a lot of work towards sanctification. Nonetheless, sometimes I’d like all of this to be a lot easier, and I feel like if God had made me a little bit different it might have been.

Fasting and Internalization

You people are all insane. I hope you know that. I run another blog… no, you don’t get to find out what blog it is (anonymity, remember?) and it took me forever to build up a following on that blog. So far I’ve kept a pretty steady ratio of posts to followers here and I don’t understand that at all. Seriously people, what I have to say isn’t that interesting, and it certainly isn’t particularly important. Why in the world do you want to read my random thoughts?

Well, now that that’s out of my system, I finished my fast today. It was good… strange, but good. I’ve always had an easy time fasting… don’t get me wrong, when I’m prideful and decide that I should just fast for three days to be ‘spiritual’ I usually last about six hours before eating something. However, I’ve always tried to make a practice of only fasting when God tells me to fast, when there’s a particular purpose to the fast beyond exercising my own arrogant self-righteousness. So, what I mean is that when God tells me to fast, he makes it easy. I can’t take any credit for fasting being easy, it’s simply God making allowance for my many and varied weaknesses.

This fast was not easy. God provided in my distress. He gave me the strength, but for the entire first day of my fast I just wanted to eat something. I couldn’t go fifteen minutes without thinking about getting a hamburger, or a steak, or an ice cream cone… whatever. For the life of me I couldn’t get my mind off of food, but God takes care of us in our times of need. The second day of the fast was a little easier, though when my roommate started cooking hamburgers on his grill I nearly lost it, and then today was the easiest of all.

Still, the fast was streching, challenging, and summative. I honestly feel like what God’s been trying to do was mostly done before my fast even started… although the two weeks of periodically fasting from sleep might have had something to do with that. Nonetheless, fasting is an important ritual. It’s provided a good, clear ending to this lesson (not that the lesson is actually over). It’s important to have these memorable moments in our lives that let us remember the lessons that we learn. The things that help us to internalize these lessons, and that is the point, isn’t it, to internalize these lessons? To make them a part of our daily lives, a part of our overall spiritual experience? The goal is to let God actually change us, instead of simply listening and then assuming that something magical happened, even though we haven’t actually learned anything or changed in any fundamental way.

This is one of the things that ritual does for us. It finalizes things, gives us a place to look back to and say, ‘Yes, I remember when God taught me that…’ So, all in all, ┬áthe week was good, God humbled me a little, loved me a little, pushed me a little, and taught me a little, and I hope that I’ve come out the better for it. I guess only time will tell in the end.