Struggling with Self

Somewhere along his road, Blaise Pascal penned these words, imagining them coming from God’s own mouth…

“It is I who have made you and I alone can teach you what you are.  But you are no longer in the state I made you.  I created you holy, innocent, perfect, I filled you with light and understanding, I showed you my glory and my wondrous works.  You eye then beheld the majesty of God.  You were not then in the darkness that now blinds your sight, nor subject to death and the miseries that afflict you.

But you could not bear such great glory without falling into presumption.  You wanted to make yourself your own center and do without my help.  You withdrew from my rule, setting yourself as my equal in your desire to find happiness in yourself and I abandoned you to yourself.”

And that decision to seek what we need within ourselves–that sounds the bell and begins the battle, where nothing works as we think.  We squeeze tighter and wrench our grip upon the situation, confident that control is within our reach.  We scheme and strategize, certain that our best-laid plans will be sufficient to get a handle on life as we know it.

Yet into the struggle, Jesus speaks an unnerving single line: “Whoever will saves his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

Is it possible that we have it all backwards?  Could it be that a twist took place in the plot somewhere, and we missed the whole point?  Can one think they won, only to lose that which they desired most to save?

Yes.  Apparently so.

So we struggle.

We struggle against our desires for control.  We struggle against our craving for central position in our worlds.  And we determine to discover dependence.  We try on a cross for size, and we pick it up with faith that dying indeed brings life.

In my experience, the struggle never ends.  Also in my experience, it is the battle that must be waged daily and which is most demanding of my energies.

To any in the heat of battle today, fight on, my brothers and sisters.  Slow down a breath or two.  Loosen a fist or two.  Relax a muscle or two.  Pray a word or two.  And bow a knee or two.

You are not alone.

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