Lately, I’ve been having a lot of thoughts, and it’s been a long time since I’ve rambled here. So I decided to talk about two things:
Being a control freak and being a lazy bum.
More or less.
So let’s talk about that.
The Self-Control Conundrum
My car has been in two accidents (I was in the car both times BUT I SWEAR BOTH TIMES IT WASN’T MY FAULT Y’ALL) in about two weeks in early December, and as someone who has never even got a speeding ticket and rarely even made a stupid driving choice (I’m cautious but efficient in my driving), I have been absolutely furious.
It’s a mix of things. Part of it is that I don’t want to be a poor driver. I take deep pride in driving well. I have gotten pulled over one (1) time several years ago, and it led to me breaking down and sobbing uncontrollably in front of my bosses at work. I can be very efficient in the moment, but later, I get more upset by that kind of thing than anything else.
The other thing, I think, is wanting to be in control.
Driving a car (or any other large machine— or guiding children—or writing stories based off carefully-structured outlines) is a matter of self-control. You do the absolute best to be in control of yourself and even elements outside of your control.
And because when you’re driving a car, every movement matters—and because when you’re herding children, every small expression matters—and because when you’re writing stories, every word matters—you become a bit bogged down because there are just so many elements you CAN control.
Yet, the entire point of humanity is that you can’t control everything. Because we live in a fallen, sinful world. Because we are fallen, sinful beings.
The Alice Conundrum
I’m not much like Alice, really.
But since this is such a central theme in both books 3 and 5, I think whenever I mention my struggles with control, people go, “Ohh, right, like Alice!” People like to assume I only write characters based on myself when really nothing could be more untrue.
I write characters who aren’t like myself. Really, I’m a combination of a lot of my characters—and sometimes there is nothing or not much of me in certain characters, too.
But in this case, a lot of my characters’ struggles are fears of mine. I fear being that controlling, like Alice, so I pour my fears into her and speak to her gently (mostly through Nettie), as gently as I wish I would speak to myself.
I fear losing my identity in Christ in an effort to serve a great and powerful master: The Self.
Because guess what? I don’t have car accidents. I don’t let children misbehave, and I don’t let them feel unloved and underappreciated. I don’t write bad books.
On the surface, these are GOOD things. Which is actually part of what I want to talk about here today. But they can become BAD things if the accomplishment of such things is more important to me than the reasons behind them.
As always, the Great Because comes in here.
I don’t have car accidents BECAUSE I believe the way you drive a car says a lot about the kind of person you are (responsible, even-keeled, gentle but firm).
I don’t let children misbehave BECAUSE I want to be a good shepherd of them.
I don’t let children feel unloved or underappreciated BECAUSE they are beautiful small humans who deserve love and respect.
I don’t write bad books BECAUSE I do everything heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.
Which brings us to …
The Responsibility Conundrum
What. We. Do. Matters.
IT MATTERS, OKAY?
Every action, every word, every thought. Seize it, for it matters!
As a Christian who believes that, without Christ, I am an utter imbecile, sometimes accountability can just go out the window.
We forget that Christ was full of both GRACE (we love that one) and TRUTH (icky, sticky truth).
Oh, folks, we need balance there, for we are RESPONSIBLE.
Christ has removed our sins, but if we drive our car off a cliff, we will have consequences.
If we don’t shepherd the children in our car firmly and lovingly, we will have consequences.
If we half-ass anything (pardon my French, but I want you to remember this), we are not giving God the glory. More than any other group of people on earth, we should be careful and intentional about everything we do.
Yet at the same time, the life of a Christian is one of immeasurable rest.
The Contradiction Conundrum
It feels like a contradiction, doesn’t it?
We need to rest in Christ, focused on His kingdom in Heaven, and yet we are obligated to do so many things on earth, just as Christ Himself did.
The truth is, the life is a constant conundrum of moderation.
One of the most important verses of all times is actually often misinterpreted. A lot of Bibles translate Philippians 4:5 as “let your gentleness be known to all men,” or some variation. However, the root word is truly “moderation.”
In other words, be reasonable. Be seasoned, be mature. Not gentle as in weak. No, not at all! Gentle as in patient, gentle as in mild, gentle as in … loving.
Let your moderation, let your love, be known to all men.
You need BOTH complete rest in Christ AND strength from Christ to do the good work He has laid out for you, whatever that is.
The Christian life is full of contradictions that really work perfectly together. Christ was fully man and fully God during his time on earth. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate Beings combined into One perfect whole. A man and wife are one flesh and yet irrevocably separate humans.
Let’s see if I can’t illustrate it a little better.
The Driveway Conundrum
A few weeks ago, when the first snowfall of the season happened (I’ve been snowed in more this year than any other year of my life and it’s only January), I couldn’t get my car up my parents’ driveway. If it wasn’t for the fact that I feared my ability to get back into town safely on the slick roads, I would have turned around and headed home.
As it was, though, I had to either get my car into a safe place at the bottom of the driveway, where I could leave it, or get the car up the driveway, which wasn’t working.
I remember praying, a bit scattered, hoping that someone would come along and tell me what to do, preferably one of my uncles. My dad was in surgery at the time, and my go-to brother at work, so I wasn’t sure who to turn to.
But I did know that just sitting at the bottom of the driveway wasn’t an option, no matter how powerful my prayers were.
Long story short, I kept trying. I tried five or six different times, even though after every try, I thought about giving up. However, I’m not sure what got me up that driveway … only that something did.
What I’m saying is that I wasn’t going to go barreling up that driveway—but neither was sitting at the bottom of the driveway going to help me.
The Inconclusive Conundrum
There are some things the human brain can’t know, but we hate it. We hate a conundrum. We want to solve things.
And that’s so hard because, at the end of the day, to be human is to not have anything but the knowledge of good and evil.
Sure, we got that, but we don’t know what to do with that knowledge. It was the original sin, the original falling-away from God, when we demanded what we assumed was wisdom instead of submitting fully to our Creator.
Yet it’s not wisdom. It’s not wisdom to know things. That’s just, well, knowing things. We know what’s right or wrong, we know when something feels off, we know that a lot of life cannot be black and white …
And yet we need it to be. We see darkness and light and want to draw a harsh divide.
I’m rambling now, and I’m sure there shall be a number of condescending comments explaining to me what I mean (I love when y’all do that!), but, well, y’all have to realize that I don’t want the answers anymore.
Right now, in this period of my life, it is enough to trust God.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
And, for today at least, that is enough.
The Peace Conundrum
Only an idiot would be at peace while the world spins around them, tragedies flying about like rocks tossed by a tornado.
Yet here we Christians are. We are supposed to have peace.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
I don’t really have peace right now. I’ll be honest and say that. I don’t understand why things are happening the way they are.
But I do know, with my head at least, that the things that are happening are happening for a reason. God has overcome the world.
And I am His child. He is on my side, and He is not punishing me for past mistakes or expecting me to make future mistakes. He is a Good Father, cheering me on.
I never want to forget to fear the Lord. A lot of idiots (if you are one, I’m not even gonna apologize) like to portray God as all-loving, but He is mighty and fearful, too. Only a fool looks into the mouth of a lion without trembling, and God is both the Lion and the Lamb.
So while I don’t want to be a fool …
Well, I trust that particular Lion to shut His mouth and not eat me alive. God’s strength is often more evident in His restraint. He has so much incredible power, so much potential to absolutely decimate us, and every right and ability, moral and ethical and physical and spiritual, to do so.
Yet He doesn’t. He loves us. He keeps us safe. He wants us to succeed, to be happy, to come to Him with everything.
Anyways, I’m getting off subject. Let’s wrap this puppy up.
The Conclusion Conundrum
The problem with conundrums is there is not always a conclusion.
Sometimes there can’t be a conclusion, and that’s okay. That said, I am learning things about trust and Who God really is that are annoying to me. As always, there’s an element of angsty teenager to my relationship with Christ.
With that inspirational note, I leave you.
What would you ramble about if you were given the opportunity? (I mean, if you have anything to share, even a link, share it!) What has God been teaching you lately?