Saturday, December 26, 2009

Romans 12:21

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I've read books. I've read the Bible. I've talked to friends. I've sat in a chair in a therapist's office (the couch was horribly uncomfortable). Still, I struggle with boundaries. Honestly, I don't know if boundaries is the right word. My inner conflict goes beyond simply saying no; Perhaps balance is a more suitable description. I'll end up referring to both words, and hopefully, by the time I've finished whatever it is I'm going to say (I'm not quite sure yet!), you'll understand my mental definition of these words.

When is it ok to say I don't like something? How do I know if I'm being selfish? Do I have rights? How much is too much? These are the questions that plague me in situations of conflict. I endure an awful lot of self-induced anguish because these types of questions haunt me almost daily.

Let's start with honesty. This is one of those areas where I don't know if I'm supposed to use the word boundary or balance. Anyway, how does one balance (aha!) honesty with both love and discretion? It seems when I try to be honest, I am sometimes labeled negative or pessimistic. At other times, when I choose to refrain from voicing my opinion, I am scolded for not taking a stand.

The books say I have the right to create boundaries. When I first read these books, this was eye-opening and fantastic. After considering Scripture, though, I became confused. Jesus said to turn the other cheek. The red letters tell me to give up everything---to deny myself. Are these two thoughts congruent?

As these thoughts run laps inside my head, I beat myself down ... mentally, spiritually, and physically. It broods depression. This circus of thinking all stems from my desire to make the right choices, but as I strive to figure out what is right, I end up in the wrong. I end up being depressed and discouraged and living a life filled with frustration and feelings of failure.

Knowing that I Corinthians 14:33 says, "For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints, " I have assurance that this mental conflict is not of God. This state of frustration in which I live is just part of this fallen world. It is part of the evil that reigns. It attacks me daily.

And so, I cling to Romans 12:21:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The God who loves me and gave His Son for me, is the God who will keep me in His arms. He is the one who will carry me through this storm, even if it lasts for my entire existence on this earth. He is good. He is sovereign. God is the Creator and He is my Sustainer. The Comforter lives within me, and even when I am overcome with confusion, I am not alone. God is greater than my doubt. God is more powerful than my confusion. Despite my helplessness, God is not helpless. He is omnipotent. And He loves me. His goodness is greater than any evil that plagues my mind.

In order to have victory over this battle in my mind, I must overcome evil with good. I have to make a constant decision to dwell on God---on who He is. As Peter focused on Jesus Christ, he walked on water. When I am fully concentrated on my Savior, I feel the immense peace that surpasses any storm around me.

A few final thoughts. First, my meditation on God must be intentional. If I do not make a conscious choice to put Him in the forefront of my thoughts, I won't do it at all. Second, building the habit of God-ward thoughts does not remove the situations around me. It simply changes my viewpoint. Finally, I have to remind myself that God can indeed give me victory over my confusion. That is a point that I have not fully grasped yet because I have not experienced it. Lord, help my unbelief!