The Necessity of Struggling

For so long before this storm, things were going so well I had only petty complaints. That nagging doubt at the back of my mind, that it shouldn’t be this way, that calm waters are stagnant waters? Easily ignored.

That comfortable, easy place I’d been living in for so long?  A trap. It’s not the Peace of Christ, but the anesthetized-entertained comfort of sitting in front of the television set with a big bowl of ice cream.

It doesn’t make me profoundly grateful. It makes me weak.

The struggle of exercise – walking, lifting weights, swimming, climbing, running, wrestling itself – makes us stronger. So does the struggle of our spirit – studying things that challenge our preconceived notions and existing interpretations, practicing empathy to understand why others differ, letting our hearts break with those who are suffering profoundly, getting our lives dirty, looking ridiculous, walking as Jesus did, among those who are “other” and beyond the pale of respectable society.

We were meant to struggle. We were never meant to coast. There is no cruise control in the Christian life.

But that’s what we do so often.

  • We know what we believe – or at least what our denominations believe – and we never question it.
  • We accept our interpretation of the Bible as being as infallible as the Bible itself.
  • We accept our respectable social circle as right, superior, almost sacred.
  • We let our socially acceptable sins slide. It’s not really gossip, I mean, not if you spread it out out love…
  • We accept our privileged American lifestyle as our birthright.
  • We accept our nation’s sins and crimes, no matter how many suffer and die for our “security” or to produce the consumer goods we crave.
  • We unconsciously assume that a “Just War” and an “American War” are one and the same.
  • Or perhaps we blindly take the political left’s side. There’s no reason to pick on conservatives. Spiritual laziness is apolitical.

I’ve been guilty of all of these in the past. And my spirit, like my physical health, has paid the price.

I’m making a commitment here to struggle every day. It won’t be hard to find things to push back against.

  • my distractedness
  • my physical laziness
  • my tendency to let Katherine do too much of the housework
  • my uncharitable thoughts, especially about those in authority
  • my tendency to eat too much of the wrong foods
  • my tendency to make everything about me and what I want/feel/think/believe
  • my privilege as a white, male, middle-class, heterosexual cisgender American
  • and so on

Ultimately, this struggle isn’t about the little details or the individual sins. It fundamentally affects what kind of person I am.

Ephesians 6:12 (NASB) says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

If we don’t struggle, if we just coast in our well-fed first-world lives, what use are we?

6 comments on “The Necessity of Struggling

  1. danielledelisle says:

    This is a great post. I am totally with you. We must push ourselves and try to be better. We do this by going out of our comfort zones. If you ever need someone not involved to chat with about this I am your girl. I believe you are on a good path, and remember even if you fall short there is still a lot of value in the attempt. We will never be perfect, but the work of trying is what makes us great people.

    • Tim Dedeaux says:

      Thanks! I think that aside from general laziness, one issue I’ve had is unexamined privilege. It’s so easy to see things only from my own perspective, and not see how even the framework of my basic circumstances affects others.

      I guess the storm really put things into perspective, but things didn’t really come into focus until today (the two month anniversary of the tornado, actually).

      • danielledelisle says:

        So, let me ask you a question. What was different about this storm as opposed to Katrina?

      • Tim Dedeaux says:

        Eight years of experience (and hopefully maturity), the intensity of the storm (we got the crumbs of Katrina, up in the Jackson/Byram area, but here we were in the heart of the storm), and probably most of all, Kaitlyn.

        And it’s possible that the storm wasn’t even the biggest contributor. It just seems to loom large. Maybe it was all Kaitlyn? I don’t know for sure.

        Better late than never, eh? And better 38 than 58.

  2. […] fitness. I have reached a point in my life when I have fallen far short of this goal. I must struggle to strengthen my body, and resist the things that weaken me. Fortunately, it isn’t always […]

  3. I am not a Christian; but nonetheless, I’m really feelin’ you on this one! Amen and Hallelujah!

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