You've undoubtedly heard it before. You may have even said it yourself. The "anything-but" statements.
"I'd do ANYthing to lose weight...but changing my diet or exercising."
"I'd do ANYthing for more time with my family....but cut back hours at work."
"I'd do ANYthing to fit exercise in....but get up earlier."
"I'd do ANYthing to have a clean house...but work all day at it."
Yup. Been there, done that.
We'd all love to change...if it wasn't for all the dadgum hard work that goes with it.
Recently, I was truly desperate to feel well again. I laid down with my son to help him take a nap and found myself exhausted and nauseated, my head spinning and emotions swirling--as usual. I was fed up with feeling "a little off." I made an appointment to see a chiropractor who also does applied kinesiology to help me with my nutrition and to help me get my health back on track.
Leading up to the appointment, I found myself telling people, "I will do ANYthing to feel well again." I really did want to know what I could change and I was willing to give up some things if it meant I could feel like my usual energetic, clear-headed self again.
On the day of the appointment, however, I found myself thinking, "I just hope he doesn't tell me to give up sugar. Or caffeine. Or red meat. Or Cheezits. Or tells me to start exercising. Beyond that, though, I will do ANYthing!!" I realized the absurdity of my thinking and actually laughed. I told my doctor about this and he had a good chuckle, too. It is, after all, so....HUMAN.
It struck me that we approach the Bible the same way.
We need help. We need to change something in our lives. So we do a Google search. We do some research. We talk to some wise friends. We read books and blogs about it.
Then when none of that works, we get really desperate. We may even be at a crisis point. So we turn to the Bible.
We brace ourselves. "Lord...I'll do anything for some help on this."
That's when the 'but' enters the picture.
"Oh, yes, Lord. I'll do anything. Well....anything BUT..."
Anything but change my way of thinking. Anything but repent. Anything but challenge the status quo, hurt someone's feelings, rearrange my schedule, reprioritize, risk my popularity, break a bad habit, forgive someone from my past, or even...GASP!..ask for help.
"Yeah, just not that stuff, Lord."
Changing is just too hard. God is asking too much.
So we do nothing.
James compared it to looking in the mirror, noticing something we need to fix and then walking away.
It's Friday and Drew and I have a sitter coming for a date night. It's an hour before we're supposed to leave for dinner and a movie. I stand in front of the bathroom mirror. There's yogurt smeared across my $3 Target clearance shirt from the baby's breakfast. Yes, that's right, I haven't bathed yet today. My pajama pants are too big, faded and don't match. Mascara is smudged under my eyes because I dropped into bed last night, too exhausted to wash my face first. My hair is sticking up in all directions. I look like a beast. But...I do nothing. I just...walk away. No problem. Drew won't mind and the people in the restaurant will just think I'm getting a night out from the mental hospital. No biggee.
It's ridiculous to think of, right?? But that's the comparison James makes. You see what you need to change--and you do nothing.
James 1:23-24 "Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like."
See, the person James is talking about DID look in the mirror. He just didn't do anything about what he saw. It's not ignorance! He couldn't say, "Oh, i didn't realize I had lettuce stuck between my teeth! Why didn't anyone tell me???"
When we see what the Bible has to say, we have to decide what to do with it: change...or do nothing.
Now, whether I go on a date with my husband looking like a weirdo is, at worst, potentially embarassing for both of us. But let's get real. There are times that, if someone held a mirror up to my behavior, I would look away, repulsed.
Case in point. I have discovered my angry face.
I didn't really know it existed until my second son was born.
I have never known anger like the anger that wells up inside when my older son does something to hurt my younger son, whether it's the physical pain of ramming a train into him or just hurting his feelings when he takes a toy away. It makes my blood pressure sky rocket and elicits sounds I never knew I was capable of making. I don't need to look in a mirror to know: it ain't pretty.
I know I have a problem. So what do I do about it?
I go to the Word.
The Bible has plenty to say about anger. The question is, once I look in that mirror, what am I going to do about it? Am I going to go on that date looking like a vagrant...or am I going to take a shower, put make-up on, style my hair, put on a pretty outfit, accessorize and make my date proud?
Am I willing to do the work?
Or do I just walk away, trying to forget what I saw?
I feel strongely about what our pastor mentioned recently in his sermon on this topic. We don't just change for us...we change for other people. We change for our kids, our spouse, our co-workers, our neighbors, our fellow church goers, even for people we haven't met yet. We need to step up to the plate, put our game face on and engage.
We need to undergo a makeover.
I need to overcome my anger problem for myself, yes. But, even more than that, I need to change for my kids and my husband. I need to change for my future grandchildren. If my kids grow up with an angry mom, it will become normal and they will think it's normal to treat their kids the same way. I don't want that. Not for me, not for them, not for my grandchildren.
So I will stand at the mirror for a while. I will take in what I see, even the ugly "angry face." And I will go to the Bible, knowing it will challenge me.
And I will be ready to change. I will do anything to change. No buts about it.