One of my favorite emotions is the thrill, the little perk of security and superiority, of being right. I love being right. For me, there seems to be wonderful peace in knowing I am doing the right thing, the right way, at the right time. Ohhh, I get giddy just thinking about life going smoothly because I figured everything out. Seems like the perfect recipe to make sure nothing fails, nothing is left undone, and no one is disappointed.
Well, except for the exhaustion and, honestly, the inability of being right all the time. Of doing every aspect of life the right way. Of knowing the exact right time to act. When I type the actual words, it seems purely ridiculous to think I could know and act with utter precision and perfection. In fact, it sounds downright arrogant. It sounds like I think I could be … dare I say it? Like I could be God.
But, of course, I would never say that!
For years, though, I have sought to make sure my walk with God was done the right way. That I read Scripture the right way. That I prayed the right way for the right things. And one day I was immobilized by it. I was literally in a sobbing heap on my couch, panicked and overwhelmed that I could never be confident that no matter how much I studied, read, sang, prayed, journaled, worshipped, fellowshipped, small grouped, mission tripped, you name it, I could understand all of God and do all the God things rightly enough to live the Christian life the right way.
My younger, but often wiser, brother must have known something was up. On a spring evening, in the throes of my panic and tears, he dialed my phone number. As I poured out my heart and fear, berating myself for my failures, gulping for air between sobs, he spoke softly and firmly, using my first and middle names like he did with his own young children, my niece and nephews, when they would spiral into an emotional meltdown:
“Katherine Marie? You have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. God is not going to let you get lost in the weeds and wander so far afield from him that you forget home. You are his. The Spirit is residing in you to help you discern because you can’t figure it all out. You aren’t alone in this. He lives in you.”
That April night was over six years ago. I remember it often. It was truth spoken in love by someone who knows me and knows him. It’s the Body of Christ alive and responsive, Michael responding to the Spirit’s prompting in him to tell me the truth about God and our relationship. It turns out it was never about me getting it “right.” It’s about my active trust in God. I am still loved when I get it wrong, upside down, or sideways. It’s God’s nature to love me into his truth, invite me constantly to trust him again and again, and change me through his love, not through my perfection and work. God is not far away and I get it “right” to get close to him. He is here, active and alive in me through the Holy Spirit.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-15, ESV)