Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Life Script

We like to think that life will work out peachy keen. And for plenty of folks, it starts out that way, and continues on that way for a good while.

Eventually things go wrong. Bad things enter the picture: hurts, broken relationships, health issues, financial troubles, destructive addictions. Or simpler things like jealousy, frustration, discouragement, discontentment, or unkind words coming out of my mouth.

Whenever I try to imagine just living a pleasant life, pondering the possibility of such a thing and how nice it could be and how maybe it really could work to have a clean new car to drive to happy community events and freshly mowed yards around tidy gardens and happily playing children out on that mowed yard with smiling faces wearing their simple but designer clothes and warm fuzzies at every bedtime following that delicious gourmet dinner I prepared while hubby gave said children baths - you know, going for the classic average American thing like we see on magazine covers, in storybooks, on the big screen - I come to terms with one constant problem: me. Maybe none of the rest of the people who try to live that life have that to contend with - well, I know most of them don't have "me" in their equation - but "me" in particular is a reference to my propensity to mess up, to harbor hurts, to pass judgment, to be negative, to be selfish. From what I've learned they simply have a different "me" with different problems, if they are honest.

So the house of cards comes crashing down. The Truman Show unravels. The car gets old and crumby and smelly, the designer clothes are dirty and mismatched and the arguing children are no longer smiling, the yard gets crabgrass and the flower beds are weedy, bedtime finds us tired and grumpy after a thrown together meal shared by an unhappy mother and father who can't agree on what to do about the grumpy kids. "Me" has arrived, and maybe "you" have, too.

Enter stage right: self-help books, excuses from well-meaning friends, New Year's resolutions, professional counseling ala Dr. Phil and Oprah, and maybe a decision to cash this one in and start again. Only problem?
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
So you decide to try something different. Live off the grid maybe. Or move to downtown Manhattan. Or across the country. Get a new job, a new spouse (or maybe skip the actual spouse thing and try something really new), new clothes, new hair color. You can get a lot of new things, but you can't seem to lose the "me" factor: grumpiness emerges, unkind words are eventually leaking out again, depression sits on your shoulder, insecurities make you jealous. Whatever. You discover that it's the same thing over and over again. And the results aren't different.

So what's behind left wing curtain, waiting to come onstage? You know you need more than a change on the outside. You need to make life work as it is, because no matter where you go or how you dress or what you do with your talents on the outside, it's the inner man that is the plaguing trouble.

Once upon a time all those nagging things that are a part of "me" were called sin. In God's book, they still are. And He has an antidote - Jesus, His death, the acceptance of His love and mercy and help. And His Holy Spirit empowers us to be changed - a real change, not an outward makeover. He changes my very heart.

My heart needs help. Every day. In Him I find real change and hope. Whether the yard is mowed or not.

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