I want to be more like Jesus, I just wish sometimes it were a little easier. Doing the wrong thing just doesn't require the same amount of effort. They lie when they tell you it is less work to smile than to frown. Physically, perhaps yes, mentally...well, I think we all know that sometimes it is just pure torture to put on a grin and bear it.
There is no denying that executing the myriad of tasks that I have each and every day, due to the fact that I am a wife, mother, teacher and involved in my church, takes time, energy, organization, patience and then a little more time. And there is also no denying that grabbing the box of chocolates that Carson bought me for Christmas, propping my feet up and zoning off to the most recent episode of Project Runway: Allstars would be a lot less effort.
But unfortunately, at least that I know of, the Lord does not issue calls to watch Project Runway. He does, however, issue a call to rest:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
I think that is the key that I am missing. I am bearing my own burdens and refusing the rest that I have been offered. I want to create my own rest because I am selfish and power hungry. I want to do things in my own strength so that I can receive the credit.
And there is no denying that following Christ *does* involve taking up a yoke, albeit an easy and light one. It does involve sacrifice on my party. And sacrifice is not missing the latest episode of my favorite show. It involves daily dying to myself, the part that wants to hold onto my pride, and my need for recognition. That part that wants all the good stuff to come from me and all the bad stuff to be someone else's fault.
And it often means doing the right thing, for the right reason, even when I have the wrong attitude. I am a firm believer that when we focus on doing God's will, even without a "cheerful heart" that He will reward us by moving our heart to the right attitude. It is like running: it isn't fun when you get started and are in terrible shape, and out of breath and your knees hurt and you know that the 60 year-old lady who keeps passing you is laughing behind her hand. But you "keep on keepin' on" and you find that it isn't quite as bad as it was. That you are getting faster. That your 13 minute mile shrinks to a 10 minute one and you are proud to wear the title "runner". It might not be fun, even then, but you are seeing the benefits.
But then you (and by you, I mean me) face some hardships. Your knees keep hurting and they won't stop. You give up running and slowly, all the ground you had gained is lost. And you are frustrated. And you decide you are giving it up for good because it isn't easy and you are tired of trying. Because doing the right thing never gets easy- it just can become more of a habit. It is truly a discipline.
We think of discipline so negatively: grounding, writing sentences, all those "tortures" we endured as children. But what we didn't realize is that discipline is something to seek, to desire:
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
When I run, I am disciplining myself. When I choose, consciously, and sometimes painfully, to do the right thing, I am allowing myself to be disciplined by the Lord. When I focus on having the "right attitude" I decide that if my attitude is bad, I just shouldn't do something. This says the opposite. It is sometimes painful to do the right thing. I have to sacrifice what the almighty "I" wants and buckle down. When I focus on doing what the Lord has told me is right, then He will bring my attitude back into line through His loving, perfect discipline.
So, it is really about a balance of rest and discipline. Doing the right thing is about focusing on the reward of righteousness and peace that lie on the other side of the pain and frustration of wading through being disciplined. But while I am in the midst of the all the "not funness" of that- I can also remember that I can rest. I am allowed to breath and gather strength through the One that can enable me to do all things. And maybe, like a little child who doesn't want to take a nap, it is realizing that rest is sometimes part of the discipline. Because the rest prepares me for the work that I need to do- and I don't know about you, but sometimes a little nap just makes me a nicer person!