Monday, September 24, 2007

Wrestling with my octopus.

Wrestling with my octopus.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been engaged in mortal combat with a perfect version of me. “Perfect Jon,” if you will, is who I could be if I’d stop messing up. He’s really got it together and he’s not afraid to boast about it.

For instance, when I got my rejection letter to the University of North Carolina, he was quick to let me know he’d been accepted. When I recently had to spend a few hours getting my head drilled on at the dentist, he didn’t fail show to me his flawless and bright choppers. When I get a boring assignment at work, he’s fast on the draw at telling me how exciting his day is. And so forth.

I didn’t really even know he existed until I took a men’s class on brokenness and had to draw a picture of him. When I was finished with the colorful piece of paper, I realized he was like some sort of freakish octopus, arms and appendages just all over the place. And he’d have to be with as many things as he accomplishing.

I feel the guilty sting of Perfect Jon most when I’ve messed up in some way, when I’ve failed. It is in the shadows of those moments that his voice haunts most clearly. But recently, while reading Proverbs, I came across a verse that was a like a punch in the face to my definition of what it means to be righteous.

See, I’ve always confused righteous with perfect, or holy with flawless. But in Proverbs 24:16 it says, “for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.” I had to read that verse a couple of times to make sure I understood it.

If I wrote the bible, that verse would say, “If a man wants to be righteous, he better not fall seven times.” That’s not what it says though, it says the very opposite of that. It promises that a righteous man is going to fall. There is little doubt in the author’s mind a fall is going to occur.

That doesn’t prevent the man from being righteous at his core, but note what happens after the comma, “he rises again.” I think that’s what this verse is ultimately about, rising again. In fact, I believe a lot of life is about what we do after the comma, how we react to a situation. When we say things like, “my sister died in a car crash, but when I tell her story her life touches others.

Or, “I got laid off at work, but now I have the time to see where God really wants me.”

Life is what happens after the commas. Perfect Jon or Perfect Mary or Perfect Frank, regardless of what your name is, don’t want you to know commas exist. They want you to focus on making the first half of that sentence perfect. But God loves commas and more importantly than that, he loves watching us rise again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I feel the guilty sting..."

When I read that, I felt another way too. I feel the guilty sting of "Perfect Me" when I think things are going fine, only to look around and see things going even better for other people (everybody). Then it's like, "Dang... I thought I was doing fine. ...And I'm... not."

Good blog.