It’s a BCP and RCL mash-up kind of morning, because some days I just need both…
First, there’s Paul. He’s writing to the Corinthians, and he’s frustrated. He feels as if he has given them absolutely everything he has and everything he is, yet somehow mutual disappointment remains:
II Corinthians 12:15, 20, “So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less… I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be” (NIV).
This passage is not expressly about God’s love and sacrifice for us, but I couldn’t help but think about how God doesn’t always measure up to what we want God to be. Of course, humanity has a rough time coming close to our potential on most days, so I stopped to wonder if we are also mutually disappointed.
When I was a kid, disappointment was the worst punishment. If a parent or a teacher or a friend said, “I’m disappointed in you,” the level of shame was unbearable. It was all the motivation I needed to “be good…” or at least to “not get caught.” No time out, spanking, or loss of privilege could ever compare to the pain of not adding up… not meeting (and often exceeding) the expectations of other people… being a disappointment. I like to think I’m not a people pleaser, as an adult, and I highly doubt most people would describe me as such, but the truth is: it still eats away at my soul if I let anyone down. And I am, undoubtedly, my own worst critic.
How do we reconcile this? How do we come to a point where we do find ourselves… and others… and God as we hope us all to be?
I’m not interested in pat answers, but put simply: we have to change our expectation:
Psalm 37:3-7a, “Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him…” (NIV).
We can’t be Christian and selfish. The two are mutually exclusive. How did we miss this memo? Life (and faith) works best when we align our desires with those for which we were created.
Now, please don’t misunderstand! As human beings, created with free will—the ability to choose anything of which we are capable—we can do what we want. But there is an old adage that goes something like this:
“Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”
Well… keepin’ it real, sometimes I hate that! Of course, those are probably exactly the times when I need to realign my expectations… and my thoughts… and my feelings… and my attitude… and my actions… Because this all really comes down to whether or not we are going to be the people we were created to be, and that requires the same kind of complete self-giving that puts the other first.
Not easy, but what else would we expect?