There is very little that I am consistent about in life. However, there is one thing that I’ve been very good at and that is starting over…and over..and over again.
Take this blog for instance. My very first post was in January, 2011. I wrote two on the same day and one later in the month.February was a banner blog month with S.E.V.E.N. postings!!!! (Thank you, Kate for keeping me current on the lastest “fads” in writing.) March was weak with one posting, as was April. I produced a couple of drafts in the Fall that never made it to the standard of actual postings. I gave up in December, 2011 and then started again last night June 3, 2013……you get the picture.
I’ve been like this as long as I can remember. I’m sure I can trace it back to my childhood, just give me a moment. 😐 There were so many things I wanted to do as a child. But as the tenth child of eleven, there just wasn’t any financial resources for my dreams. So, I would drag home a musical instrument from school only to have to return it the next day. No money for the rental. I would tag along with my friend to her dance class, come home beg my parents for lessons…you got it, no money! Tennis, piano, horseback riding, swim lessons (finally got a few of those thanks to my sweet big sis H. Ann one summer.) I would dream about becoming proficient at something, anything! Did I mention I wasn’t a very good student, and looked slightly like an orphan! I have the pics to prove it. My poor parents, it must have been heartbreaking for my mom to constantly deny me what she would have loved to give me.
You may be wondering, so what does your slightly deprived childhood have to do with your past and present inconsistencies. Bear with me. After failing to develop any talents or academic success, I discovered around 16 that I could attract guys, “voila”! Finally, something I could “excel” at that didn’t require funding. The start/stop cycle though had been established in me, reinforced by my proclivity towards impulsivity and a lack of perseverance.
I would “start” to date a guy and as soon as he liked me, I would stop. Then I would move on to the next challenge a.k.a. guy. Sometimes I would go back and date someone I had previously dated, thus “starting” again. We could delve endlessly into the meaning behind my serial dating pattern, but that’s a whole separate blog!
This cyclical approach wasn’t limited to my dating, it impacted my spiritual life significantly. I grew up in a Christian home and true to Baptist tradition made a profession of faith at the age of 9. I truly believe God reached out in mercy and redeemed my poor, pathetic soul knowing full well the liability I would be to His kingdom, all my life. He is a God of great compassion and I have experienced it more times than I can count.
Throughout my teen and young adult years I vacillated between enthusiastic devotion to God and depravity. Webster defines “depravity” as moral corruption and that describes my carnal periods perfectly. I operated on a- what seems pleasurable, advantageous or easy at any given moment basis, and often under the influence of alcohol or drugs. After wallowing in the slime of sin for a season, I would return to my God, beg for forgiveness and throw myself into His presence and service once more.
These extremes were so much a part of my life, my friends and my younger sister Marybeth never knew if they should bring a Bible or a pack of cigarettes on get together’s with me.
In the interest of this blog not becoming a book, let me just try to summarize the next 30 years.😬 After a couple of decades of this start/stop cycle in my life, God once again, so great in mercy and love, reached through time and space to redeem Charles.
Charles’ personality lends itself naturally to consistency, stability, and thoughtful decision making. He just needed Jesus’ redemption and redirection in his life. When Charles became a Christian, God used him to provide that tangible and steady spiritual influence I desperately needed to stay on track.
There have been many times since then when I have reverted back to my former ways. In Ephesians 4:22, Paul speaks of this, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.” The tension will always be there, whatever your personal struggle is. Paul’s words indicate decisive action must be taken continually. In the following verses he urges Christian’s to, “Put on the new self, lay aside falsehood, speak truth, don’t be angry and do not sin.” Read the whole fourth chapter, it’s excellent.
There are areas of our hearts, minds and bodies that we struggle to surrender to Jesus, completely and forever. I know and you know what those are. We lay them down and we pick them up. Pride, anger, control, people pleasing, people resenting, gossip, over indulgence in eating, drinking or spending. We sin, confess, indulge and repeat. We cry out with Paul in Romans 7:24-“Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death ?” And we will rejoice with Paul in verse 25, “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord…”
So, I start and I stop. I walk in freedom, enjoy His peace. I read my Bible, I journal my prayers, I contemplate the goodness and mercy of God. And then I stop, but not for long…for I have learned that there is nothing as sweet as being in the presence and will of my Heavenly Father. So I surrender and start again……