I waited a week to write this post. I wanted to be in a better frame of mind. If I would have written it last week it would have been too raw and harsh. Even as I reflect on last week, I can feel a heaviness returning to my chest. I have to breath more deeply to try and lift the weight, as if filling my lungs with air will some how relieve the pressure. It doesn't.
I left my office last Tuesday after writing my blog post and I know this is going to sound vain, but I thought it was pretty motivational. I was excited about being a follower of Jesus and I was ready to follow Him (no turning back, no turning back). Then I got home. The sight of my garbage cans at the end of the driveway, sent a twinge of resentment in to my stomach. I thought to myself, “Why can't anyone else bring the garbage cans in?” As I dragged the garbage cans in, I started having a bad conversation with myself, then I walked in the door. I was met with a horrible smell. The unmistakable stench of popcorn that has been burnt in the microwave. I know this smell well. Once when the kids were younger we had left our kids with a babysitter and one of them had put a bag of popcorn in the microwave for 10 minutes. By the time the babysitter discovered it, the smoke alarms had gone off and the bag had burst into flames. I had to replace that microwave because the smell wouldn't go away. It smelled similar to that time.
On top of that, it was in the middle of exams, so all the kids were home and they have friends over. The house is more of a disaster than normal. I trip over all the coats, shoes and backpacks at the door. I make my way to the kitchen, because I have my hands full of groceries so I can make supper that night. I can't set them on the counter because it is completely covered in dirty dishes. I start to get supper prepared and I also try and get some Christmas decorations that are in Rubbermaid bins out to the shed. It is near the end of January and I still don't have my Christmas stuff away. The kids watch me put the decorations away. No one offers to help. I am feeling very frustrated, angry and a general sense of pity for myself. I then go pick up my wife from work, while supper simmers on the stove.
We come home and start to have supper. One of the kids doesn't like what I've made and asks if there is something else they can eat. I'm almost ready to pop and then, over dinner a huge argument breaks out. Voices are raised. Inappropriate words are spoken. I want to run.
After supper as I reflect with a cup of coffee, I think about my now almost forgotten desire to follow Jesus. Was it only 3 hours ago when I had so passionately committed myself to following Him? I thought to myself, “What happened?” I knew right away – life happened. I call them “Crashing Realities”. I think it's a term I came up with. So, I guess I can define it the way I want. A crashing reality is when your expectations come face to face with your reality. I found this picture which I think Canadians will understand that describes the dilemma so well.
I had a certain expectation of what following Jesus was going to be like and my reality seemed to be nothing like the image I had at all. I'd like to tell you that at that moment I pulled out of it, I renewed my focus and all was good. It wasn't. I was depressed for the rest of the night. It took me a couple of days to get back to some sense of normalcy.
I am learning some things about following Jesus. One of the key pieces is that it has to be real. The anvil on which we will be working this stuff, is often in the not-so-pretty parts of our lives. My temptation will be to quit, to run, to get depressed or overwhelmed. At that point I need to remember that:
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3
God has given me the power to follow Him, even in the difficult times. You may think my problems are petty and insignificant in comparison to yours and you are probably right. Many people are walking through some storms that I can't even begin to fathom how hard it must be for you. But the principle stays the same, no matter the magnitude of your difficulty. God will help you to follow him, even in the hardest moments you encounter, in your “crashing realities.”
Maybe that's the point. If we only follow Jesus when it is easy, convenient and when the sailing is smooth, is that really following Jesus at all?