Since helping more on the farm, there has certainly been seasons and waves to things. The garden starting and stopping, different topics that God has been teaching me, a struggle that alleviates and another pops up. Certainly, a lot of that is due to growth in my relationship with God. Yet it feels like currently that things have become somewhat monotonous. For me, oftentimes this is where I struggle the most.
It’s very easy for me to fall into a sort of autopilot mode, and when that happens I find myself falling back into bad habits. Personally, I start to zone out more and become more distant with people. I let anger and frustration boil up, and while I may trick myself into believing that I’m concealing them well, the reality is that I’m not. I pray and read my Bible less. Most of all, I let anxiety and stress take over. Not only do I let them stay, but I lean into them, telling myself that the pressure to get something done makes me more productive. Really all it does is make me a bigger jerk to those around me.
Most of all, I start to hate looking myself in the mirror. Shame creeps in, but the sad part is while I’m disgusted by who I am, many times I’m not disgusted enough to do anything about it. I’m resolved to stay in the same place and let it fester until God knocks me off my feet and it hurts enough to change. Yet as I look at this cycle in my life, I grow even more tired. Surely this can’t be how life as a Christian is supposed to be. And it isn’t. What we strive to be in our relationship with God is not filled with peaks and valleys, but rather consistency.
So I started looking back at when I first became a Christian. At 17 years old, extremely rebellious and narcissistic, things began to change when I realized for the first time in my life a few things: that I wasn’t the hero (or victim) I thought I was. That I was helpless to my addictions and sins. That not only did I need Jesus, but that I wanted Jesus. That even as the wretched person I was, that God wanted to be my friend. And as time with Him has gone by, despite my many failures that God’s faithfulness has been solid. That when I’m in autopilot and filled with shame from a lack of self-worth, that God only sees someone that He has fearfully and wonderfully made. What changed in my life was for the first time I was broken from the inside out, and that like what happens when I fall into autopilot that I hurt the people around me.
I lose sight of that sometimes, what originally brought me to Christ. I forget how much I truly need Jesus. I look at the things I do with my hands and see it as my achievements, my glory, yet the glory is all God’s. It all comes from my lack of self-worth, my fear of being a failure, or even more so a failure in the eyes of others. All of these thoughts that come to my mind that indicate unworthiness only come from my feelings, and my feelings aren’t real and they don’t lead to change. The only thing that is real and meaningful is what God says. And what Jesus says in John 15 is that “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”
So my resolve is this: that regardless of the good and bad moments, “whether (I) eat or drink, or whatever I do, do all to the glory of God.” (1st Corinthians 10:31). Even when my demons come up, my resolve is to bounce back to seeking God’s help instead of relying on my own. My prayer is that God help me not only recognize when I’m falling into autopilot, but to run back to the things that do bring me peace, like reciting scripture, giving thanks for what God has given me and my family, praying for others and encouraging them, and even just praising God instead of myself.
Jeremiah 17:5-9 encapsulates this very well: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Because if there’s one thing I know about me, is that I am prone to failure, but God never fails. And that’s someone I want to be friends with.
— Written by Joseph