Kate–one of our Pepperdine chapter’s co-directors–shares how she continually is moving from being captive to the world toward being captivated by His love. Rather than living enslaved to perfection, she now finds strength in her weaknesses, through which God shows His perfect power.
When I speak of my issues I like to use the past tense, as a kind of signal to others that I have overcome, and a signal to myself that I am cured and renewed. But I’m going to stop myself now before I do that and fess up: I am not perfect and I still doubt myself. My relationship with the Lord is a growing and ongoing love affair. Inherent in that continuously evolving love is also a consistent struggle. I am convinced that my God loves me—I feel him pursuing me all the time. In spite of that, I still permit myself to ignore my God and believe that I have dominion over my world.
I like to take care of myself—feel responsible and independent. I like to think that I am mature and can handle any multitude of things that come my way. Quite often, however, when I’m feeling on top of the world, I suddenly become captive to my responsibilities. This is not how God wills it to be: “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:12). The tasks, meetings and activities actually start to suck the spirit from my body—and I become bonded to my need for immediate task management. Shortness of breath and a paucity of sleep typically ensue following such occasions. I am no longer captivated by my Lord; the awe and wonder of the gift of life that He gave me was left behind at my last meeting.
What seems insane is that I have reached these depths time and again. A wise friend often describes it in the adage: ‘like a dog returns to vomit, a fool returns to folly.’ How do I stop myself? How do I maintain that close contact with Jesus? Why has my steadfast gaze dropped to watch the busy shuffling of my feet? Though I would like to live a life of perfection where I am always the example of Christ, I acknowledge that as a human I fail at that before even starting. My human limitations don’t have to keep me from trying, however. I can at the very least live in pursuit of objectives (not perfection) and strive to maintain a principled core, centered on Christ-like values. “For in Christ all the fullness of the God lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority” (Colossians 2:9-10).
Recognizing the difference between objectives and perfection is the beginning to the end of trapping myself in isolate captivity. As soon as I realize the necessity of humility, the sooner my spirit can be freed. Attitudes change from a deep and honest search of our motives and actions. How do I do this? By having improved perceptions of humility. “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:30)
Being humble does not mean to live a completely austere and ascetic life. The worldly definition of humility associates the term with being weak, but I find by humiliation—admitting defeat and helplessness—I can become stronger. It’s a paradox, but faith is just that. Living by pride alone is actually severely crippling. Pride inhibits me from making a thorough inventory of the soul; preventing self-examination of how the way I act or do not act affects my relationship with God and others. Overall, pride obstructs anchoring to permanent values, which in turn yields to negative consequences. Relying on individual determination of God’s power and will is a trap that holds me captive. Humility is the desire to seek and do God’s will. If it’s missing so is the relationship between me and my Lord.
I end with this verse as a prayer: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).