Discouragement, Commitment and Good Pretending

I don’t know how to feel: it only took me through week two to get discouraged with this project.

I began the bible:365 project with high hopes and expectations, ready for a great year of reading through the Bible and sharing my thoughts with anyone who would listen. The first week of posting went great, I loved the reading, and was having a lot of fun going through the stories, thinking out loud, and sometimes sharing things I learned over the years in classes and studying. I loved it, and the amount of time I was spending on each post was of no consequence: I didn’t care.

Then week two hit. I thought this was going to be easy. Well, maybe not easy, because I knew there would be times I wouldn’t want to read or write, but I knew I could do it. It was just reading and writing after all, and those are two things I am good at!

But then I noticed how long it was taking me for each post, and it began to wear me down. It started looking harder and harder to set aside 3+ hours every day for this project.

I thought about scaling back on what I was doing, thinking that would decrease the amount of time each reading and posting required, but then I thought, scale back on what? The readings are set, so I’m not going to change how much I’m reading. So should I spend less time reading, pushing through each day faster? Should I not take notes as I go? Or maybe I should spend less time contemplating what I’m reading? Or perhaps I should just significantly reduce the length of my posts, hitting only a few key points?

I didn’t like any of those options. The first ones felt wrong; if I’m going to be reading through the Bible, I don’t want to do it just to read and say I’ve done it, I really want to pay attention. As for shortening my posts (though you may prefer not having to read so much…), I didn’t want to do that. The writing is a significant avenue by which I process the reading, and well, I really have so much to share with you all each day!

So, what to do? An encouragement I’ve heard multiple times given to bloggers (specifically) and all writers (generally) who are discouraged or don’t feel like writing today is this: too bad, do it anyway.

That’s the thing about commitment, isn’t it? Sometimes we have to do it anyway, even if we don’t want to or don’t feel like it. I see it in athletics: athletes don’t always feel like practicing or doing conditioning, but they do it anyways to improve their skills. I’ve heard it talked about in marriage: you may not always feel “in love,” but you’ve made a commitment to each other, and in honoring that, the feelings of love return. But I see this especially in following Jesus. There are days when I don’t feel like acting like Christ, spending time with God, serving others, or going to church. But I do it anyway, because I want to develop those characteristics in my life: I want to become like Christ.

C.S. Lewis makes a point in Mere Christianity about good pretending, where “the pretense lives up to the real thing.”

When you are not feeling particularly friendly but know you ought to be, the best thing you can do, very often, is to put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are. And in a few minutes, as we have all noticed, you will be really feeling friendlier than you were. Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you already had it.  (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity Book 4, Chapter 7)

The point he is making is about becoming like Christ: as we pretend to be like Christ, molding our thoughts and actions to conform with his person, we, through the power of the Holy Spirit, begin to actually become like Christ.

I believe it’s the same idea with a commitment: you pretend, and eventually whatever that commitment is becomes an integral part of your life.

So what am I going to do? I’m going to suck it up and write. While doing that I will try to find a balance of thoroughness and timeliness that doesn’t have me taking hours each day, but I’m not going to wait until I figure that out before I continue.

Thank you so much to those who have encouraged me or inquired when I missed a few posts, you are my accountability and encouragement to continue!

How do you find ways to deal with discouragement? What do you think of a Christian life as a kind of  “good pretending?”

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3 thoughts on “Discouragement, Commitment and Good Pretending

  1. Karl-
    You have motivated me if not all of us to dig deeper into God’s word. Your insight on the readings has helped me better understand what the true message is.

    As for the commitment of taking this on. It’s so true on how easily we want to give up whether it be a sport, hobby, diet, etc., but realizing it’s what makes us stronger when we follow through. Never have I regreted finishing what I’ve started, but regretted when I’ve given up. Knowing that God is testing us with such an obstacle as reading His word everyday, He is testing our strengths and weaknesses knowing that we can do it.

  2. I love what our Pastor says about trying to read through the Bible in a year. He first has us raise our hands if we have tried and didn’t make it, most hands are in the air. Then he asks how many have ever missed or skipped a meal. A sea of hands are raised. “Well, you don’t stop eating because of it do you? Do you say, ‘awe man, I missed a meal, that’s it, I’m never eating again’, Ridiculous”.

    Karl, you HAVE TO watch Julia & Julie. A women sets out to make every one of Julia Child’s recipes in one year, one a night, and then blog about it. You will relate to it so much, as besides, you love to cook!

    In my 50 years I have had to overcome many discouragements, sins, and injustice, pushing forward to be more like Christ when all I wanted to do was wallow in my sorrows, guilt, grief or resentment. But that gets us no where, and even if we think we are getting better by just ignoring what ever it is that burdens us, the jar explodes one day, or glimpses of the beast begin to appear and you know you must deal with it.

    That is when I sit with the Lord, my cup of coffee and a candle lit and say, “Come Lord Jesus, come. mold me,make me, fill me, use me”. I am reminded of the simple, yet challenging life of Christ and learn to model it after His. My motivation? Love for the Lord, A Desire to please Him. But mostly, I want a piece of glory this side of Heaven. I want to experience the pure relationship Adam and Even had with God and each other before the Fall. I will only receive that if I stay the course and allow Christ to purify me, which, by the way, happens through the fire.

    I, too, was up at 4 am “Catching up”. (Then I fell asleep again). God’s word is a gift from Him for us to read, and re-read and re-read…… and pondered and hide in our hearts. This year will be a beginning for this to happen, not an end to itself. Even if we don’t get it the first time we read it, we will be reading it again, and again, and again. God’s word is active and alive, still today, and will be years from now. I know that no matter what I read, whether I have read it a thousand times before, God has a new message for me! I love that!

    Thanks so much Karl for “getting back up on that horse”. (Corny mom). I am blessed by your heart and your commitment to Christ and look forward to reading and pondering with you. Keep it up!

  3. Hey bud, thanks for being honest with everyone. A man of God doesn’t make excuses or whine, but tells the truth as it should be. I can’t imagine how time consuming this may be, but I pray for wisdom and guidance in that area. The most important thing I wanted to remind you of is to take a good look at this verse you have posted to the side here- 1 Cor. 1:26-31 and see what promises the Lord has for you there. Praying for you brother!

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