Okay. Bear with me for just a second while I use an applicable yet probably tacky analogy.
In the movie Zoolander (yes Zoolander), international superstar male model Derek Zoolander is going through a sort of crisis in identity. There is this scene where he is feeling real down about himself, and he stares forlornly, with his best male model look, into a puddle on the street and asks his own reflection, "Who am I?"
And his reflection, with its best male model look and a casual shrug of the shoulders, answers him, quite frankly, with, "I don't know."
It's a tug-at-your-heartstrings kind of moment. And it's ridiculous. But I've found myself thinking of this crazy scene from this crazy movie because I feel I can often relate to Derek Zoolander and his sassy reflection.
Especially when I think of how the Bible tells us this:
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." -2 Timothy 1:7
This simple sentence carries the promise that people who trust in Jesus are given the ability to exude power and love and sanity.
This is fantastic except for the fact that I seem to have misplaced some of my love and most of my power and sanity.
"Where did they go??" I ask myself (sadly lacking my best Blue Steel look) as I repeat this verse under my breath in the car while Evie loses her little mind in the back seat.
"I don't know," I curtly reply to myself as I mentally search for them, realizing any of these traits would prove to be pretty useful at this exact moment. Evie seems to be just as successful in her own search to find her lost mind, screaming and crying and red-faced all the while attempting to compose herself long enough to stutter out the words that we practice so often, "Pease! (hyperventilating sobs) Ma-ma!" As if she's trying so hard to be good but just can't seem to get herself together enough to pull it off.
Just like I am trying to be powerful and loving and sane all at the same time but just can't seem to get myself together enough to pull any of it off.
And so in the midst of Evie driving me to the brink (to the brink!), those two small words uttered by her in the midst of her crisis broke my heart a little bit, and I thought,
"Oh, honey, I know."
I wanted to be able to meet her where her desperate little please wanted me to and make everything all right.
I wonder if that's how God feels about us. When he sees us flailing around in our junk and our hurt and our desperation, and in the midst of all that, he watches us try so hard to be good. To get it together. To turn to Him and ask Him as nicely as we can manage to give us what we think we need.
I imagine Jesus, with kind, wise eyes that maybe crinkle around the edges as he smiles, tenderly saying,
"Oh, honey, I know."
And that breaks my heart a little bit, too.
I can strive to live up to these words from the Bible. I can do my best. But the truth is my best will never quite do. And if I make this my ultimate goal, if I put striving toward a perfect spirit my goal, I will forever be broken. Because it's not the power and love and sound mind that I really need.
I love this quote from Timothy Keller:
"The living God...is the only Lord who, if you find him, can truly fulfill you, and, if you fail him, can truly forgive you."
This is really hard for me to understand sometimes because I forget the Person behind this faith that I am trying to live out. I forget sometimes that I'm not just following a set of rules or a religion. I'm following Him.
And when I'm looking to Jesus, not just to what I hope He can do for me but really, truly looking to Him and who He is, He can help me find the power I need to strongly, while still holding on to some dignity, get through these tough days with little ones. He can fill me with ways to love my family. He can help me respond patiently to an ornery toddler and choose words carefully when having a disagreement with my husband. He can arm me with a clearness of mind so that I won't be susceptible to lies and fear and panic that are so good at finding the cracks in me and sneaking in to rob me of peace.
And when I am believing I can't keep doing this, that I want to be doing anything but this because I am so exhausted or so bored or so sick of stepping on the pointy edge of yet another Mega Blok, He is there. When I retreat to the couch and just sit there and cry because I am so tired of disciplining by two-year-old over and over again without any improvements, He sees my weakness and yet still desires to finish the good work He began in me. When I snap harshly at my husband out of frustration, He is gracious enough to gently show me a better, more loving way. And even when I lose faith in Him, He is still there waiting. To forgive and to mend and to redeem.
No matter how we may feel, He always sees us. And when we can look up and out of ourselves and our failings, we can learn to see Him too. And seeing Him makes all the difference because we see His kindness toward us and we want to be kind to others. We see His patience when we fail, and we are able to be patient with the failings of others. We see His strength, and it makes us stronger.
I guess the truth is that there will always be hard, soul searching questions I can ask myself.
And I can continue asking myself as I struggle with doubt and defeat and confusion and frustration, trying desperately to come up with some sort of answer.
Or I can respond calmly and quietly, feeling a peace that I don't fully understand, with,
"I don't know. But I know the One who does."
*Timothy Keller quote taken from the book Counterfeit Gods