Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In the Process

I've made much of the abuse and misuse of guilt by our culture.
I'm painfully slow to recognize it in myself.
On a psychological level, it's maddening.
Everyone's job is, I suppose, what they make of it.
Sometimes I make mine out pretty hard.
It's pretty basic. Take out a truck full of packages and bring it back empty.
Some days it's a walk in the park and I walk out to my pickup at five-thirty.
Other days it's. . .
The problem is, on the latter days, I've found myself tense all day, waiting for the other jackboot to fall and club me on the head.
Part of it is successful mind manipulation on the part of the supervisors. They have succeeded in making you feel like you're getting off easy if you clock out under eleven hours.
So on a decent night, on the way home at six-thirty, I'm still waiting. . .
It came to me as I relaxed by letting the stinging wind blast through the cab of my truck.
The reason it was relaxing was because it stung just a little. It was uncomfortable.
I slung my arm out the window, and opened the back sliding glass.
I began to unwind.
. . . because I was whacking myself over the head with the other shoe, and it was a slipper!
Whether I've been conditioned or whether it's a curse I was born with is moot.
I seem to remember feeling somewhat guilty as a kid.
I remember guilt as a roaring lion preceding my salvation.
But now, it crops up here and there, like crabgrass.
My life has been remarkably easy thus far and fear is the devil I know.
I wait for God to introduce some crisis into my life to teach me patience, or trust.
What I have told myself for years is that nothing is as bad as the expectation of what might be.
So I expect the worse, assuming that since dread is the worst part of any calamity I've already gotten over the hump of any potential disaster just by worrying about it.
What was it John Wesley said about worry and cursing?
But this isn't so much sinful despair as it is preventative maintenance, y'see.
I've told others besides myself that no catastrophe can equal your imagination. I've made a good show of pointing this out to Devan and she is light years ahead of me in childlike faith.
My motto is, there's gotta be a more complicated way.
If you put me at point A and tell me to get to point B and there's a six-foot wide sidewalk in between, you'll never find it trod upon by me. I prefer the tangled brush on the right side or maybe the knee-deep mud on the left.
Because God wouldn't let you get by that easy.
Perfect love casts out fear.
Be ye perfect. Be, in the act of being. The verb is undeniably emphatic, undeniably present tense, no off-hand suggestion, but I tend to view commandments in the negative, focusing on what will happen if I fail to keep them.
This is otherwise known as not keeping your eye on the ball and its what I mean by fear; to serve God because you fear the consequences of the alternative. I take comfort in the fact that fear alone could not have carried me safe thus far, but the lingering shreds of the grace that taught my heart to fear are still fluttering in the wind of the grace that relieved my fears.