Obliged or Obligated?

Christmastime is, as usual, particularly packed with proceedings and parties. There is always so much to do, and sadly, I’ve found my motivation waning as I ask myself, “do I even care?” The worst part is I cannot give the answer that I know I should, and apathy has become an easy enough default state.

I know how terrible that sounds. I’m not here to try and defend myself or make excuses. I’m just typing out what I’ve been dealing with, fully understanding the tragic nature of it all. My goals through this exercise are to confront my own brokenness and convince you, dear reader, to pray for me.

It started a few weeks back, I’d guess, with a sneaky trick my flesh pulls against me with some frequency. The premise of this snare is quite simple, as my brain clings to Satan’s lie that I must accomplish some great feat or achieve some spectacular objective before I will have the approval I so desperately crave. This lie compels me more than any other, I’m embarrassed to admit. My desires to be perceived as the most creative, funniest, wisest, wittiest, most successful, best looking, or otherwise ultimate drive me to work harder and longer, which might seem like a good thing. However, this drive comes without reprieve or respite, pushing me ever on toward the unreachable goal of earning the approval of both God and men. When it becomes clear that perfection is unattainable, I crash in the most pathetic of ways, deciding that if I can’t be the best at everything, I might as well be good for nothing. There ought to be a large red circle around that last phrase, labeled “Sam is here.”

And so, as we approach the day meant to be a celebration of the arrival of our much anticipated Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I am writing out this confession of sorts, letting you all know that I am feeling especially Scrooge-like. My heart, it seems, is two sizes too small to appreciate the Advent season. Oh, that the problem were really that simple! But, in truth, it is more about the deceitfulness and desperate sickness of my heart than its size. But, I read somewhere that admitting it is the first step.

So, here, officially, I admit that my heart is sick with grief and with a misplaced affection for my own greatness. I assert that, despite what falsehoods I may cleave to, my greatness is of no import. I concede that, despite my inability to live like it, praising and proclaiming the glory of Jesus are the primary objectives of my life. I furthermore recognize, despite a lack of faith in this fact, that I have all the approval and love and acceptance and success I will ever need through Christ, who, though existing with all the fullness of God, did not grasp for the equality with God that was rightfully His. Instead He endured the cross for the sake of sinners like me, destitute and unable to obey, justifying us before the Father and bestowing on us an inheritance and adoption into the family of God.

That, I suppose, is reason to celebrate.