[Rated PG-13 for strong language: click to continue reading]
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You may have figured this out on your own.
Life is fucking hard.
Did you know that one already? Did you know that there are mistakes you’ve made that you can’t take back, and that you’ll deal with those consequences for the rest of your entire life? Did you know you’ve been wounded so very deeply by other people that the scars won’t ever go away? Did you know that you yourself have scarred others beyond repair?
Note that I’m not saying that healing is impossible. God’s grace is precisely the subject I want to discuss here, but there are times when experiencing that grace seems like an impossibility, to say nothing of showing it to others. I know from personal experience how incredibly easy it is to get bogged down in the terrible circumstances of your life. There are times when even though you know things will pass, even though you know you’re not abandoned, no amount of comforting helps.
There are times when verses like “Come unto Me, ye that labor and are burdened” mean nothing, and can do nothing. When promises like “I will never leave you nor forsake you” seem hollow and empty. What can help in those situations? I have found aid from an unlikely source: bravado. There is a point where waiting for God to act to remove you from the mire is just not conducive to moving forward, and when you get to that point it is time to look long and hard at your life and say “This is my reality.”
“These are my obstacles, these are my consequences, and this is my reality. Now it is time to fucking kick some ass.”
We are instruments of God’s design, you and I. And yes, there will always be circumstances beyond our control. But there are no circumstances beyond God’s control, and we are instruments of God’s design. We have been empowered to choose our reaction to our circumstances – to choose bravado over pessimism, to choose victory over defeat.
Consider this quote from Ephesians:
14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Somebody somewhere is going to accuse me of profaning the gospel, but: Did you read this? This is some serious fucking shit. Us? Growing up into Christ himself? What is there even to say? Did you read just before that where it says God’s power is at work within us? God’s own power! The same power that knit molecules together and fabricated time and space is at work within you and me. How can we lose?
I am not advocating the “The Power of Positive Thinking” mindset here. I don’t believe that we can escape from every negative scenario (cf. first paragraph) or that we should try to force God’s hand in times of duress. Jesus himself promised us trouble. But we can choose in those times of trouble to take heart because Christ has overcome the world. We can choose to act according to our faith in Christ’s victory. We can choose to act according to our hope in the Savior who will make all things new. We can choose to act as though we believe the gospel, even if and when we are not sure that we do. This is bravado: being unsure of victory but acting as though the conclusion is forgone. Knowing that “all mortals turn into the thing they are pretending to be,” we can choose to hold our heads up high and take action, trusting that God will make us into the sort of people who no longer have to pretend to be strong.
Christ himself has empowered us through his death to look Hell straight in the face, square our jaws, and say “Fuck off. I have better things to do.”
Works Cited: Steve Jolley @ Westmont, Dan Allender @ Westmont, Han Solo @ the Asteroid Belt (I tried really hard to work it in naturally but it just didn’t fit). Also thanks to Kelsey for helping me word things in the best way and for the C.S. Lewis quote.