Monday, February 22, 2010

"I tried, but it's hard"

For several days now, I've been thinking about the "I tried but it's hard" concept. You know what I'm talking about: "I tried to do the right thing, but it's hard!" "I tried to be nice to that in-law who always annoys me, but it's so hard!" or "... but I just couldn't!"

First of all, since when did "hard" become "impossible", because for a lot of people, those two words are synonymous. Whenever Christians use the "it's hard" excuse, I can't help but shake my head in wonderment. They think that being nice to someone is hard? They think that being respectful to their husband or wife is hard? Christians today have no concept of what "hard" really is. Dying a martyr's death is hard, watching your children being thrown to the lions is hard, choosing to follow Jesus when it means certain death is hard. There are not very many Christians in America today that encounter something that is truly difficult. Yes, everyone goes through struggles at times in their lives, but when we complain about the stupid little things that we have to put up with or deal with (being nice to someone who's not, holding your tongue when you're angry, etc.), and whine that they're "hard to do", it's a real slap in the face to the Christians around the world who actually are doing something hard. There are Christians even now who are dying a horrible martyr's death. Someday, our country may even start persecuting Christians. If we can't do the right thing at a miniscule level, what hope do we have of choosing Christ when there's a gun being held to our head?

And then there's the first part of that statement: "I tried". These two words are used everyday to excuse one's behavior. It's as if Christians believe that, as long as they tried, the outcome doesn't matter. This is how they think Judgment Day will play out: God says "you cheated on your wife. Why'd you do that?" 'Sam' replies "well, you see, this girl at the office would catch me alone in the break room and she kept on trying to kiss me. The first time, I pushed her away, and the second time, I pushed her away, and the third time, I tried to push her away, but..." "Ooooh" says God "You tried to push her away? Well, that's all that counts. It doesn't matter that after your wife found out about your affair, she divorced you, your children grew up in a one-parent home guaranteeing that they'd live in poverty for the rest of their lives, your daughters had low self-esteem and were abused by men their whole lives because they never had a father around to tell them how valuable they were, your sons turned into men who abused women because you weren't there to teach them the right way to treat women, and your wife died of an STD that you contracted from the other woman. But hey, those things don't really matter. How can I judge you? At least you tried." Here's a thought, why don't we stop trying and just start doing! Just do the right thing, for heaven's sake. I understand that Christians struggle with sin (after all, we aren't perfect), but 1 Corinthians 10:13-14 says "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." So for Christians, this means one of two things. Either God's a liar and He doesn't really give us the strength to do the right thing and we're tempted beyond what we can bear, or sometimes, we'd rather just do the wrong thing. My bet's on the latter. So please, either use the strength that God's given every Christian, or just admit that you gave in to sin. But don't give the pathetic excuse about "trying". Just trying to do the right thing doesn't count.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day

My husband and I celebrated Valentine's Day on Saturday, since I had to work on Sunday. I had to work on Saturday morning, but after I got home, we spent the rest of the day together, taking a nap, going for a walk in the park, and having dinner at Chili's. After we got home, we watched Mansfield Park and then Daniel played me some songs on the piano (keyboard actually). I fell asleep on the couch, listening to him play. Daniel is an incredibly talented pianist. Some of my most wonderful memories of when we were dating is of him sitting at the piano playing and me sitting next to him with my head on his shoulder, listening. He would play romantic songs like "Beauty and the Beast" and "To Make You Feel My Love" (both of which he played at our wedding), Jim Brickman songs, classical and just about anything else he had. Whenever he plays for me, which isn't as often anymore since the time that he has to play he usually spends practicing with his headphones on, I'm always amazed by it. He can read music like I can read a book. And he is SO good. I took a couple years of piano when I was younger, so I know the basics of it. Knowing that little bit gives me an even greater appreciation for what he can do, because I know how hard it is, but he makes it look so easy. I know he could be a great pianist someday, if given the opportunity, but he doesn't want fame and fortune. He wants to play for the love of playing, and to touch other's lives with his music. He plays the organ (and sometimes the piano) every Sunday morning for church. He says he does it because that's his worship to God and because he wants other's to have a good worship experience. He doesn't have to do it, and it would certainly be easier on him if he didn't do it. Most 26 year-old guys are sleeping in on Sunday morning, but he gets up so he can go to church and offer what he has to God.
Daniel is truly a good man and I'm so blessed to be married to him. And I love it when he plays.

Monday, February 15, 2010

America Today

What America is saying to God:
"Get out of the boy scouts, God."
"Get out of our universities, God."
"Get out of the military, God."
"Get out of our textbooks, God."
"Get out of our homes, God."
"Get off our televisions, God."
"Go away, God."
"We don't want you, God."
"We don't need you, God."

Katrina hits.

"God, where are you??"
"Where'd you go?"
"Help us."

- Compliments of Christian comedian Brad Stine

Monday, February 1, 2010

Moving and Struggles

This past Friday, Daniel and I moved. It was a long and tiring day and I'm glad that it's over with and I'm definitely not looking forward to our second move. We moved into an apartment that looks almost exactly the same but it was a rather sad time. We've lived in that other apartment for the past 8 months, ever since we got married. It was sad to leave the place where we started out our married life. And even though we'll be moving back into that one in a couple months, it won't be the same. That apartment was where we spent long hours looking for jobs, as neither of us were employed when we got married. Many prayers went up through the roof of that building as Daniel would go to interviews and come home disappointed. And it wasn't just financial struggles that we had. The window above our bed would let in a cold breeze so we'd have to huddle together at night just to keep warm. The dishwasher in our apartment was a piece of crap so we had to wash all our dishes by hand... most nights after supper, you could find us side by side in the kitchen, washing dishes. The apartment was so drafty that Daniel would keep me wrapped up in a blanket just so I'd stay warm. A lot of people think the struggles that couples go through when they're first married are a bad thing, but I don't think they are. The struggles early on are what brings a couple close together. Our lives will be easier when we move back to our renovated apartment... during the last big snow storm (not the one a few days ago, but the big one before that), we had a small pile of snow inside the balcony door of our apartment. I think about what it would be like if we had all the money we wanted and never had to wonder how we were going to pay our bills. Life would be great, seemingly, but it's hard (almost impossible) to forge a deep and lasting love and commitment to another person if everything about life was easy.
So I guess my encouragement for those couples out there that are struggling (and I know there are many couples in a lot worse position than we're in), the key is to struggle together. If you can make it through together, nothing will ever tear you apart.