It happened again. I’m sitting, curled up on the floor of my bathroom, ugly-sobbing while I inhale some cardboard flavored frosted Pop Tarts. My knees pulled up to my chin, sweat dripping down the back of my neck, and tears smearing my mascara. (Yes! I put on make-up! I tried!)
My heart got a little tight and angry. In a bitter voice, I could hear myself rehearsing the sins that had been committed against me… poor, defenseless me.
The kids were crabby.
We ran out of ice cream.
My husband had the audacity to get caught in traffic on his way home.
Someone wanted to read “Goodnight Moon” forty-three times in a row.
My kitchen floor was sticky with lemonade but somehow no one knew what had happened.
Bath time lagged. Tempers frazzled. And I was the victimized wife and mother.
I allowed myself another indulgent spasm of self-pity.
(And tried to ignore the little voice of protest.)
That little voice pointed out that this was the third day in a row that I had clocked out at 6 p.m. That little voice drew attention to my crabby temper, my fixation with cleanliness, and my melt-down over a harmless comment.
But! I had gotten up early. I had read my Bible. I had prayed. And written in my journal. And sipped my coffee all while contemplating my own holiness.
…and then I had filled my day with sin.
I was reaping hopelessness. Sometimes hopelessness doesn’t descend because of external suffering. Sometimes it creeps in through daily small sins. James describes this painful cycle the following way: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” James 1:22-24
Imagine the stupidity of staring at yourself, turning away, and then completely forgetting everything. Am I a blonde or brunette? Was there something in my teeth? What color are my eyes?
James says being a hearer of truth only makes you a brainless idiot, and he’s right. After all, I have the completed scriptures, the Holy Spirit, and probably 37 commentaries plus Christian life & growth books all within an arm’s reach. When I allow repetitive crankiness and the same daily hiccups to derail me every day… I’m being stupid, but James promises a marvelous thing! “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” James 1:25
First, he tells me that the steps I must follow are perfect. They won’t lead me astray. They take my hand in gentleness and lead me towards liberty, and then it just gets better! James (who I lovingly refer to as “the sledgehammer of the New Testament” because this guy doesn’t mince words) tells me that all I have to do is act. All I have to do is persevere. That’s it. And I will be blessed.
James doesn’t demand perfection, because the Lord doesn’t demand perfection. He doesn’t hold blessings out like a dangling carrot, “Here! If you can manage to get your act together and remember all of the perfect law you are called to follow… I’ll only bless you if you can do everything perfectly.” No! He doesn’t say that.
All I have to do is move. Persistently.
And I will be blessed.
So, I push back my crippling sin on another day filled with short-comings. I grab onto truth. I pray for a mind that will fill with scripture. I plead with the Holy Spirit to hold my frail soul.
And I get ready for another day of living out the perfect law of liberty…