the lord has been wreaking havoc on many areas of sin in my life. one of the many things he has been teaching me about is that i CANNOT fix the junk in my life. i cannot get it together. i can't pretend that everything is okay. i can't even find my boot straps much less pull myself up by them. this week he showed me how my fix everything tendencies are even in my prayers.
i have been rereading cs lewis' the screwtape letters. If you do not know the premise of the book, it is a series of fictional letters from uncle screwtape (a master tempter) to his nephew and young tempter, wormwood. in chapter IV, the topic is prayer and this quote stuck out to me.
"whenever they are attending to the enemy himself [remember references to the enemy are references to god] we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. the simplest is to turn their gaze away from him towards themselves. keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by the action of their own wills. ...when they meant to pray for courage, let them really be trying to feel brave. when they say they are praying for forgiveness, let them be trying to feel forgiven. teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling."
i do this all the time. i feel anxious or worried about something and so i go to the lord in prayer (phil 4:6-7), but what happens is not what god intends. i bow before him and i know that i am not supposed to be feeling anxious and i say that i don't want to and i want to trust him. so i lay it out there and i almost surrender it. what happens next is that i then think that since i know that i should feel peace and rather than trusting the Lord for peace, i just start trying to feel it. i may even be able to generate a little bit of it, but it doesn't last and then i feel defeated. why does this happen? well because in essence i came to jesus with my problem, held it out and but rather than relying on him to fix it or take it, i knew what it should look like so i began to try and make that a reality on my own. i focus on myself and how i was feeling rather than the one who could change my life in an instant if he wanted. and my attempts fail each time, so i just continue to living in anxiety or fear or whatever i was seeking relief from. this just continues to show me that i do not trust the Lord. i am still trying to fix my life and live right on my own. good news is that he loves me enough to not let that happen. he is teaching me to surrender and lean in to him. and throw my hands up in surrender. i can't do it, even when i mask it in churchy stuff like prayer, i can't fix myself. but i can lean in to the one who can. thank you lord that you are sanctifying me!!