I woke up this morning and found myself at a sticking point.
It has been a month since I’ve returned to work from my maternity leave and I was hopeful that the break would have helped me clear my mind and offer a fresh start. I was also hoping that some of the changes made at work while I was gone would offer a better, less stressful working environment, but I was disappointed to find that none of those were true.
Instead, my desire to be home with my children grew and during my first week back to work I was an emotional, miserable mess. Then the sadness soon turned into bitterness and anger after discovering that despite the changes made, things had only gotten worse.
I’ve spent the last four weeks wallowing in self-pity, feeling both helpless and hopeless. I’ve struggled with feelings of anger, disappointment, and resentment toward God and others around me because of my undesirable situation. I’ve complained repeatedly to anyone who was willing to listen. I’ve said many words that I should not have. And I’ve considered quitting.
But when reflecting on my situation and the wide range of negative emotions I’ve felt there is one thing that grieves me more than anything else and it’s not the disappointment I feel in God for not giving me what I want. It’s not the pain that I feel when I have to leave my children or the stress I find myself under when I have yet another difficult day at work.
It is actually the disappointment I feel in myself.
There is a disparity between the person I desire to be and the reality of my emotions and behaviors. I long to be that person who is so grounded that they are unaffected by the circumstances around them. But in this last month, I’ve once again found myself face to face with the ugliness inside of me and I am left heartbroken.
I’m a mystery to myself, for I want to do what is right, but end up doing what my moral instincts condemn. And if my behavior is not in line with my desire, my conscience still confirms the excellence of the law. And now I realize that it is no longer my true self doing it, but the unwelcome intruder of sin in my humanity. For I know that nothing good lives within the flesh of my fallen humanity. The longings to do what is right are within me, but willpower is not enough to accomplish it. My lofty desires to do what is good are dashed when I do the things I want to avoid. So if my behavior contradicts my desires to do good, I must conclude that it’s not my true identity doing it, but the unwelcome intruder of sin hindering me from being who I really am.
Through my experience of this principle, I discover that even when I want to do good, evil is ready to sabotage me. Truly, deep within my true identity, I love to do what pleases God. But I discern another power operating in my humanity, waging a war against the moral principles of my conscience and bringing me into captivity as a prisoner to the “law” of sin–this unwelcome intruder in my humanity. What an agonizing situation I am in! So who has the power to rescue this miserable man from the unwelcome intruder of sin and death? I give all my thanks to God, for his mighty power has finally provided a way out through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! So if left to myself, the flesh is aligned with the law of sin, but now my renewed mind is fixed on and submitted to God’s righteous principles.Romans 7:15-25 TPT
Paul reminds us in this passage of scripture that although our hearts desire to please God and be like Jesus, we are human and no matter how much we try we cannot rid ourselves of our sinful nature. But there is good news:
We are not alone.
Reading Paul write about his constant struggle with his sinful nature gives me a sense of peace knowing that I am not the only one who suffers. He also reminds us that we have Jesus. We do not have to struggle on our own or stay stuck in our sinful ways.
We can’t help how we feel. We have no control over our sinful nature. But what we can control is the direction we choose to take.
Do we stay stuck in our sin or do we choose to lean on Jesus to help us move forward and grow?
So here I am at my sticking point deciding which direction to take. And I am choosing to give myself grace and move forward. Rather than sitting in unforgiveness for my own behaviors I am choosing to lean on Jesus. And although everything inside of me is telling me otherwise, I am choosing to stay. The Lord has called me to where I am right now even though I don’t like it and I will stay until He tells me different.
And then something in me changes.
As much as I would love to see my circumstances change, I find myself more concerned with the Lord changing me and I discover an unexpected resolve, a fortitude that I didn’t know was possible.