“Know Better, Do Better” Except When I Don’t Want To: Words of Hope For People Like Me

Hey, Friends! I hope you had a blessed Christmas and New Year. I intended to write a post at the end of 2020, but for whatever reason (purely psychological) I just didn’t.

So here we go: with two kids in school and two learning online, I write again. It feels nice to start with a blank slate, eh?

And on this blindingly white slate please imagine, if you will, a sketch of a bus with two legs sticking out from under it all Dorothy’s-house-hits-Munchkinland style. Because I’m throwing myself right there. Right under that bus.

I wanted to throw a movie under the bus first, so let’s do that. With my family in town after Christmas, we went to see Wonder Woman 1984 in the movie theater. There were some things I really enjoyed about the film. I could make a substantial list of wonderful things about going to see the movie that had less to do with the plot and more to do with the people around me, the comfy chairs, and the smell of popcorn.

However, without reviewing the actual movie or providing any spoilers, I found that there was a strong message of “know better, do better” that was more unrealistic than a magic truth lasso. With no clear correlation between their wishes and the destruction of the world, people chose sacrifice over comfort. They saw things going wrong and decided, “Yeah I guess I can renounce my heart’s desire if that’s what I should do.” (And, forgive me if I overthink this, some wishes probably weren’t actually bad.) Anyway, it was brilliant propaganda for secular humanism. Because aren’t people always forsaking their own comfort for the good of their neighbor? I mean that whole “Love your neighbor as yourself” thing- we all pretty much have that down by now, right?

Worldly humanism tells me that people are basically ok, maybe even good. Reality tells me, “Whaaaaat?!” So here I go. I didn’t want to toss any of you fine people under the bus, so let me climb under there for just a minute.

  1. I know that yelling and lecturing are the MOST INEFFECTIVE methods of parenting my childrens’ hearts and behaviors- I do it anyway.
  2. I know that I feel better if I move my body more, but ya know what? Sometimes I just don’t want to- so I don’t.
  3. I know life is better when we all help each other- I still pass right by my hurting neighbor.
  4. I know gratitude will make me happier and bring glory to God, but if I want to use my cute gratitude app, I will have to download it from the cloud because it has been that long since I last used it.
  5. My kids are joining me for a second here. They know they aren’t supposed to eat and drink outside the kitchen (especially on the new carpet). They do it anyway. Every. day. It’s been a rule their entire lives. Every day!

I think if we all sat here long enough, we could think of our own shortcomings. I shouldn’t eat this, watch that, say this, but…. I do it anyway.

And at a time when we are all trying to do better (yay January), we can be tempted to think that we can do better all on our own. Or oppositely- that we can’t do better, so why even try?

Silly Rabbit, Trix are for those who don’t know about the dangers of gluten, sugar, and artifical coloring.

Silly Us, who said that we had to do it all on our own?

Jesus knew some hard stuff was about to go down when He was talking to His disciples in John 14. Death, fear, and persecution were going to pack more punch than any temptation to eat junk food, or binge watch TV or skip the gym. It was about to get real. And did He start His instructions with a 7-point plan for success complete with alliterative titles and line graphs? No, He did not. He didn’t tell them to give up either.

He washed their feet, ate the Passover meal with them, and said these words:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

John 14:1-3

He pointed them to what the Father was doing. Where He was going.

That would involve them following Him, doing great things in His name.

It would involve them seeing Him in places where the world could not.

It would require trusting the Father.

It would require His Helper, the Holy Spirit.

It would promise peace when the circumstances called for despair, for revenge, for fear.

There is no “know better, do better.” There is “know Jesus, trust Jesus”A very act that is only possible through the help of the Holy Spirit. I mean, think about it, if God can take our dead, rebellious souls, and create a new life that seeks His heart, isn’t that the most empowering thing we can think on today?

We might not have the body, wardrobe, or powers of a superhero, but we have the Spirit of God dwelling in us. We are His temple. We are His ambassadors carrying a message of hope that far outweighs anything puny humankind can produce.

Friends, God knows what this new year will bring. He’s got it and He’s with you every step of the way. You have been made new and clothed in His victory. It is my prayer that our salvation guards our minds and inspires our actions as we take the steps He has given us. We have already been given all we need. Can I get an amen?

——- Photo credit: Jakub Kapusnak

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