“For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” – Romans 7:19
Guilt and frustration are two different critters. Sometimes it’s hard to know which is which. This morning, in yet ANOTHER illustration of Paul’s message to the Romans, I totally did what I didn’t want to do.
Before going on let’s get on the same wavelength.
The Apostle Paul wasn’t speaking exclusively about guilt, but also about frustration. This morning I did precisely what I didn’t want to do. As Charlie Brown would say, “Arghhh!”
There’s an irritating and unsightly scurfy spot below the inside corner of my left eye. We’ve been battling one another for over a month. I’m winning. Well, I thought I was. This scurf, like lots of scurf, spreads when encouraged. If you had such a spot on your face would you want to encourage it to spread? NO! Neither do I. However…
I live in a barn with horses. I’ve been up close and personal with horses for most of my life and intend to finish the same way. BUT – I am mildly allergic to them. So, sometimes things itch. Nothing big, but my brain recognizes “itch” and the fingers take on a will of their own and scratch.
My eyes itch – I rub them. With gloves on or without. In the barn or in bed. I don’t PLAN to rub my eyes. I don’t WANT to rub my eyes. I PURPOSE not to rub my eyes. Yet I do. Scurf loves finding new territory.
Not surprisingly, tiny spots of scurf are appearing on my eyelid. Nothing big. But they’re there. It isn’t a mystery how that happened. No matter how often I wash my hands the eyes, ears, or nose itch and my brain does it’s thing. Fingers rub, without so much as the slightest request for permission or offer to conference. Autonomic nervous systems are control freaks. No conscious input allowed. I don’t want to scratch. Sometimes I don’t even know it’s happened. Other times I catch myself – “Nooo. Not again!” Sigh.
The good I want to do – NOT TOUCHING MY FACE when I’ve just run my fingers across the original spot of scurf – I do not do. But the evil that I will not to do – RUBBING THE SCURF all over my face – that I practice.
Some folks are in the habit of feeling guilty. Sometimes they’re right. But don’t confuse guilt with the frustration of just being human. I purpose to avoid the guilt thing by walking the straight and narrow path. But that doesn’t exempt me from doing what I don’t know I’m doing. Frustration is a knee-jerk response. It happens. But once we’re aware of it we can manage it. Habits are hard to break. We cannot control our impulses unless we are forewarned. That’s where prayer and the Holy Spirit come in. Just as I often know what a horse will do before it does, the Holy Spirit knows us better than we know ourselves.
Guilt is a powerful emotion. It can be used as a weapon or a tool. Do you confuse frustration with guilt? Give yourself a break. Little kids with chicken pox scratch. They can’t help it. We do things we wouldn’t do if we had the opportunity to think about them first. It’s comforting to know that the Apostle Paul was just like we are.
What’s my plan? A little more precise prayer and launching an attack on the scurf on my eyelid. I will win.
That’s life. Enjoy it. Hug a puppy.