Do you ever have those moments where life just seems to be falling right into place? Everything you’ve ever dreamed of is happening just the way you imagined and life…is…perfect.
No? Yeah, me either.
Sure, there have been moments where it seemed the stars aligned, but let’s be honest…perfect? Life is never perfect. Unless we’re talking about our social media pages, then perfection is absolutely attainable…it’s fake, but attainable.
And, even though I know the truth of this perfect lie, I’ve struggled so much over the past year accepting change that was inevitable and even necessary. Now, I could spend the next few paragraphs, or years, explaining all the things I’ve found difficult. But, in reality, change usually brings about a certain amount of disorder which has always been difficult for my type A, precision-loving temperament. Therefore, the details are less important and frankly irrelevant, because if my adult life has taught me anything, it’s that change is inevitable. So, daily I struggle to stretch and bend when necessary to include this fact into my regularly scheduled environment. I’ve learned that it’s much more important for my sanity to bend and weave with the curves of life rather than fight them. So, if you’re around me very much, and if you listen closely, you will hear a lot of deep breathing and quiet prayers that usually begin with “Oh, sweet Jesus, help me”.
Many find this humorous and may even think I’m sacrilegious, but rest assured these are actual prayers that I say on the regular when my temperament meets disorder. At work, at home and even in the Wal-Mart parking lot, which is void of logic and reason, you will hear me mutter these words. Just last week I came home to find my son making a slip ‘n slide out of my exercise mat…inside my home. The carpeted floor of my bonus room was covered in water. At first, I silently questioned his intelligence and wondered if he’d actually ever met me. But, just as in the Wal-Mart parking lot, I chose to bend instead of fight. A deep breath, a quick prayer and a fairly calm explanation of why we shouldn’t slip ‘n slide indoors commenced. A regular pattern that I’ve developed over the years to help me navigate the disorder of daily life.
So, it’s for this reason, my learned ability to deal, bend and weave, that I’ve been so bewildered by my inability to accept the events of the past year.
I’ve thought this through until I’m tired of thinking. I’ve taken time off from writing. I’ve prayed. I’ve cried. I’ve over-shopped on Amazon, still all the while wondering “why has this been so hard?” I mean this is just life, right? Careers change, children grow up, friendships drift, why the struggle?
Now, God and I have had some serious talks about what He calls anger issues, but I call frustration. It took some time and many childish “whatevers” before I began to accept the fact that I was indeed angry, not only at circumstances, but maybe also at God.
Now, friends, this is hard and heavy stuff to discuss after months of a writing hiatus. Believe me, I’d love to share only the stories of how God has sustained me and provided for me this past year. But, those stories are half-truths entangled in twisted theology, if I fail to share the whole story of how He continues to redeem and rescue this stubborn heart of mine, that is often full of questions and doubt.
See, I think we Christian’s often clutter the gospel when we only share the good stuff. We paint a picture that accepting Christ equals comfortable easy living. We present a version of God that equates him to a cosmic vending machine…you put in a request (and maybe a little tithes and offerings) and he will dispense your blessing…kind of like a Genie. Then we tag these gifts with “#blessed” as a witness that He is our God…the one who gives us presents.
If that statement makes you uncomfortable, I’m sorry, because I’m guilty too. And, if I’m honest, this is precisely the reason for my struggle. You see, I don’t have a problem believing in a God who is omnipotent. I’m fully aware of the power of my God, but where I struggle is when the power that could rescue me seems to be silent.
This moment right here, the one we like to cover up, where faith meets reality, is so important. It stretches us and forces us to ask questions about what we believe and why. I’ve been here before and, to be honest, I was surprised that I was here again. Angry with God and my circumstances, only to realize that I’d bought in, once again, to the perfect lie.
This lie, deep-rooted with hundreds of tiny mistruths, is what the enemy uses to make us believe that this all powerful God is somehow holding out on us. Now it isn’t presented with a big, shiny bow, screaming “lies!” No. It’s imbedded in the strive for perfection. The deceit of pride. The misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the gospel. The feeling of loneliness. The distortion of truth…and the list could go on and on.
With this lie, we fall prey to our circumstances and begin to question not the power of God, but His goodness. A dangerous journey that leaves us in despair and frankly disappointed with the Creator of the Universe.
Please listen to me when I tell you that this theology is misguided, dangerous and not biblical. My search the past few weeks led me to a devotional on YouVersion’s Bible app entitled “When God Doesn’t Make Sense”. The very first day hit me hard with a definition of the word “comfort” that I’ve never known.
The word comfort originates from two Latin parts, com meaning “together” and fortis, meaning “strength”. The word changed throughout the centuries to now mean to sooth or console. When we read about God’s comfort we think of a “soothing” ride, but maybe God means “together strength”. The app specifically states that,
“We went from understanding God’s comfort as His company, to understanding it as His intervention.”
Therefore, our circumstances that seem void of intervention often make us question His goodness and sometimes His very existence, because we feel far away from our definition of comfort. When, in reality, maybe we’ve misinterpreted the very character of God. Maybe the reason we struggle so much when life gets hard is that we’ve chosen intervention over presence. We’ve chosen to love God more for what He can do for us, than what He is. No wonder our theology falls apart when faced with difficult times. No wonder we feel alone. No wonder we rely on ourselves and chase anything that promises temporary satisfaction. No wonder we blame Him for our circumstances and begin question His existence. We’ve exchanged a God who sent Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, for a religious version of Santa Claus. And, when this doesn’t pan out, we don’t believe…thus, the perfect lie.
My friends, don’t get me wrong, this realization that God is with me doesn’t answer all of my questions regarding suffering or explain the mysteries of life. But, rather, it leads me “beside the still waters” where my soul is restored (Psalm 23). When I realize that God is with me, “I fear no evil” because He “comforts me” with His presence and His strength. I see His goodness and love that “chase(s) after me every day of my life” (Psalm 23, The Message). The perfect lie is destroyed with the truth that when I whisper, “Oh, sweet Jesus, help me” He’s already there with true comfort and together strength that surpasses all understanding and always leads me home.
***Image from Unsplash.com
4 thoughts on “The Perfect Lie”
Mary Ann, this is so good.
Thank you for sharing. That breakdown of comfort’s origin is powerful! I’ll take that with me for years to come.
But… what did you do about the slip n slide?
Mary Ann, Your words are profoundly real and “comforting” to me! Thank you for sharing what you’ve been learning. Comfort as “together strength” is an authentic and powerful way to know the presence of Jesus. My child has described me, more than once, as “Mama talks to God.” I’m with you. With your wisdom I will make greater efforts to bend and weave with the curves of life… Love the way you worked in references to water in this post: Psalm 23 and the Slip ‘n slide story. Brilliantly illustrates the complexity of our world. Keep the faith.