Some time ago, I was stuck in a conscious cycle of sin:
A pattern, a habit, a mindset, a continual daily choosing.
Only, as sin does, it convinced me that it wasn’t as bad as it was. That it wasn’t as detrimental to my soul. Wasn’t as destructive to my heart as it was. That it wouldn’t tear down so much of who I was. Sin blinded me to all of that at the time, as it has a way of doing.
There are many days and nights and seconds that stand out about that season. However, one in particular is blinding- it is hard to think back on, makes me tiredly mad and sometimes still fiercely angry- both.
The line that was so clearly drawn, the one that signaled safety on one side and certain danger on the other- that line- it had been crossed.
There was no denying it. No more rationalizing, justifying, or ignoring could be brought up to the front of my thoughts as a defense or as an excuse.
The line had been crossed.
and I was terrified.
and in disbelief.
And wanted so desperately, more desperately than I’d ever wanted anything up until that moment, to go back. I wanted to “uncross” the line, to rewind all the way to the very beginning, to erase all memory and words spoken.
But by then, things had gone too far.
And this is the memory that comes back to me more than any other.
I sat in my bed, with the journal; I had stopped writing in because I was too ashamed to read the only words going through my mind and with my Bible; that I could hardly stand to open because for the first time, I knew just how damaged and ugly and destructive my heart was. And cried. Sobbed. Inhale too short, exhale too jagged, head hot from crying.
And the only thing I could say- could beg and plead and yell was this, “Just give me the strength to walk away. God, help me stop. Just give me the strength.”
Over and over and over, through sobs and pissed off yelling.
I begged for this “strength”.
This strength to turn, run, confess, end it, and be done with what I knew was killing me.
And here is what I know now about that night.
About that prayer- which I proceeded to pray night after night for more than a few nights.
What I asked for was “strength”… I already had it.
I already had it.
The power of Jesus was already in me, and no one needs more strength than that. I had the strength to get up and do all of the things I was asking God to help me do.
What I didn’t have- a desire to be obedient.
Obedience meant doing all the things I wanted God to magically make happen.
Obedience meant getting up, driving straight over to a friend’s house and confessing what I was ashamed of.
Obedience meant coming out into the open when hiding in my room felt- foolishly- safer.
Obedience meant consequences that looked terrifying.
Obedience meant admitting I was not perfect- a false image I had ruthlessly spent so much energy trying to craft.
Obedience looked like inevitable destruction… and it would’ve brought destruction, alright. But it actually would’ve been a welcomed destruction- the destruction of sin. Only, as sin does, it contorts reality and convinced me otherwise.
So… I spent a lot of time asking for the strength that I already had. When I should’ve simply taken the step of obedience that I spent all time and energy actively trying to avoid.
Which brings me here: These days- where are you asking for strength? Where are you asking for power and influence and favor- all great things, for sure.
But my real question is this- are you asking for strength when what you need is obedience? The two are easy to confuse, I know. Those lines undoubtedly blur from time to time, and they certainly aren’t mutually exclusive.
But take a second- search your heart to its depths- and lean into the hard question- am I asking for strength when what I need is to be obedient.
GUEST POST BY: Caitlin Teal Little
Caitlin loves teaching and writing about the redemptive love of Jesus. She serves on staff at Soul City Church in Chicago where she gets to spend her time with students and thinking through how to best raise up the next wave of leaders in the Church. An occasional Twitter user, you can follow her @caitlinteal or find her on Instagram @caitlinteallittle. For more words she’s written, check out caitlinteallittle.blogspot.com