Tom and I have been friends for many years, and I love him to a fault. Which is convenient since he regularly confesses his faults. He’s a sincere but weak believer who is sick of his own weaknesses and moral lapses, sick of himself, really. And he has been for as long as I’ve known him. I regularly pray for his progress, however gradual, but sometimes fear he’s stuck in the rinse-and-repeat pattern of: 1) feel bad about self, 2) announce to the world that you are human feces, 3) gather “you’re not that bad!” responses, 4) bolstered by responses, feel better about self for awhile, 5) repeat cycle.
I understand Tom’s zaftig need for approval (although I’m more comfortable in my fur, I too crave petting), so I’m often among his encouragers. But in doing so I fear I may be contributing to the cycle.
So a couple of days ago, in response to his latest “I’m a piece of crap!” announcement, in which he expressed the desire for God to finally end his worthless existence, I took a different tack. Being careful to identify with him (easy to do), I wrote:
“Tom, unfortunately, or fortunately, God is not in the escape-provision business. He tends to keep us around until our work on others and on ourselves is done. Ironically, it seems that the people who have “everything to live for” are the ones He calls home. The rest of us have too much unfinished business to complete to take an eternal holiday just yet. As a reminder of this, and of why it must be so, I regularly recite James 1:2-3:
“‘Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various trials. Remember that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And perseverance, when it has finished its work, will make you mature and complete, lacking in nothing.’”
So press on, Tom. Finish your business, no matter how long it takes. It’s worth it. Infinitely worth it.
Love, your equally slow growing brother,