Everything in life is cyclical. In fact, God seems to have designed almost everything this way from the cycles of day and night, to the waxing and waning of the moon, tides, seasons, and the list goes on. Did you ever think that there couldn’t be mountains if there were not also valleys? Ups and downs, ebbs and flows are the nature that He created.
When it comes to my life, my mood, and my strength, I often forget that cycles are a part of almost every aspect of my life as well. I’ve found myself surprised by, and frankly, disappointed by my cyclical habits. I toggle between hope and despair, beating the pavement one week and utterly weary the next, fully trusting and then suddenly doubting, contentment and discontentment, patience and impatience.
The problem, I find, is that I expect myself to be able to reach the highest standard on a consistent and unwavering basis. (Yes, this is also called perfectionism.) I feel justified, however, in my harsh condemnation of myself because aren’t the negative sides of all of those cycles somehow un-Biblical? As a Christian, I should NEVER depair, be weary, doubt, be discontent, or be impatient. I can easily provide several scripture verses to support how through faith and the Holy Spirit we are to rise above those things. Yet tried I have, in vain. Prayed and studied and prayed some more… The cycles still remain.
What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I stay on top of my game? Why can’t I muster enough faith, enough energy, enough patience, enough (fill in the blank)? Why do I always inevitably have days where I feel completely defeated and downtrodden? Why? ….Because that’s life. And life is real. We don’t want it to be. We want it to be like a perfectly crafted story; a dream we can envision in our mind’s eye. We want Eden. But that is not our world and that is not our broken, human selves. Life is real, and real is hard.
So what now? Do we cash in the dream? Well, yes and no. I do believe the Bible is completely true, and that God molds and refines us and makes us more like His image. But if God is pure gold then we are mud pies that He is shaping to look more like Himself. The rain comes, we get soggy and messy and He needs to push and knead us back into shape. No matter how good we look, we are still mud, and He knows we are mud. Maybe that’s why His grace for us is so abounding. The problem is that we believe we are fully capable of being gold ourselves and, therefore, we don’t give ourselves grace, and often we won’t even receive it from Him. We hate our muddy selves, and we think He must be terribly disappointed in us also.
I’ve started to think, that maybe, just maybe, God can handle my weakness. He can take it when doubt creeps in and when I lose my cool. He has compassion on my despair and my weariness. He knows I need Him.
I will not stop trying to be worthy of the calling and adoption He has given me, and I will forever hope that my life displays the fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). What I will try to change is my unrealistic expectation that I will succeed in those attempts every day and every hour of my life. I will give myself grace knowing that I’m mud striving to imitate gold. I’ll try to make peace with the fact that I’m broken, and instead of whipping myself for being weak, I’ll say it’s okay because I’ve got a God who’s strong enough to compensate, and I’ll just lean a little more into Him.