It tells us
we have reached the point
where we can no longer continue without change,
without a new approach,
a new learning.
We have reached the limit of
our current ability.
It gives us a measure
of where we are today, and
how far we’ve come.
It is a limit without limiting,
a boundary without bounding.
To the extent we can see beyond our point of failure,
it shows us what we can be,
what we might be,
if we commit ourselves to
by doing better,
because we know better is out there
calling to us.
It doesn’t taunt or tease.
It bows our head in defeat
we stand on
is the starting line.
I just dropped my daughter off at an early morning activity. She got out with her gear, shut the door and headed on her way. I almost opened my car door to call after her, “You’re welcome!” Because she should have thanked me for the ride. She usually does. Today she didn’t. But this isn’t about her, it’s about me.
I don’t give her rides for the thanks. At least I did’t think I did. Until I heard myself thinking, “Here I am, doing this out of the goodness of my heart, and look how you respond. You are so ungrateful!”
And right there I blew it. If I truly offered the ride out of the good place in my heart, I would not be hurt by any response. My reaction showed me the un-good that was seeping in. Back to the drawing board.
Funny, when I arrived at this dedication for Lent, ‘to do one Goodness each day,’ I thought it would be easy. I mean, how hard can it be, each day to do one thing out of the goodness of my heart? And how nice to go through my day looking for some good to do, some mitzvah, some secret mission or service project. It gave me a good feeling inside.
Until I realized how few things I really did out of that good place, the place absent of expectations from the other. Especially when I did them “for” people close to me.
Oh, but it gets worse. Some of this “good doing” was actually the opposite of good. In some cases the real good to be done was withholding the doing. The good was letting the other experience the consequences or learn the lesson. That didn’t feel good at all, it felt hard. Nearly impossible. But wouldn’t it be just like God to show me the hard thing in the midst of the easy thing I set out to do?
All I could think about was Paul’s dooby-dooby-do (my adjective) verse from Romans 7″18-19.
“For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
Left to my own devices, counting on my own nature, even the good I thought I was doing wasn’t good. Because there were strings attached. Expectations laid. Sin was at hand.
So I plow on deeper into Lent. I am starting to get it. The goodness in my heart is not mine but His. It’s in there, I know it. But letting His Good initiate, carry out and follow up on the things that I do is quite a difficult thing.
But I’m an endurance athlete. In this for the long haul. Perhaps that’s the only thing God and I have in common. He promises not to give up on me. And that, above all else, keeps me holding onto Him. Because He has no good reason for that. Except the goodness in His heart.
It’s really hard to believe, but my heart tells me it is so.