But, LORD, You Made Me Like This!
By Katherine Swarts –
Milton Berle defined the most advanced computer as one that “[i]f it makes a mistake… blames another computer.” That would be almost-human intelligence for sure; the most left-brained of us can turn exceptionally creative when it comes to explaining why whatever we did wrong wasn’t really our fault.
Adam started it when he protested, “But sneaking that snack was her idea!” Ever since, his descendants have been shifting blame to other people and to circumstances. We had to lie or things would have gotten embarrassing. We didn’t return the extra change the store accidentally gave us because they charged too much to begin with and we needed the money more than they did and it would have been too much trouble to drive back. Yes, we used foul language with the technical support clerk—but when it took fifteen minutes to get through the phone menu and no one could solve a simple problem and everything else went wrong today, anyone would have blown up.
Okay, maybe not anyone—just we emotionally volatile types to whom it comes naturally. “It’s only natural for me” is a favorite excuse these days. “Everyone in my family has a bad temper.” “How can you expect me to avoid self-pity when my mother and aunt and grandfather all suffered from clinical depression?” “Sure I eat like a glutton; I have a ‘fat gene.’” In the 1960s, people blamed the devil for “making me do it.” Now, we blame our genes—and, by implication, the God who made those genes.
How many times have I, myself, responded to the Holy Spirit’s conviction with, “But don’t you understand, Lord, that I have a naturally low frustration level? Why’d you make me like this, anyway—melancholy and high-strung and emotionally allergic to disappointment? Or if you insisted on giving me this miserable temperament, couldn’t you have the decency to keep these circumstances away from it? At the very least, can’t I have a temporary exemption from giving thanks in all circumstances and being joyful always and not worrying about tomorrow?
“Lord, if my attitudes are sinful and selfish, don’t you see you’re as much to blame as I am?”
Actually, “that’s just the way I am” is an excuse that was around long before modern genetics gave it the advantage of sounding scientific, and thus respectable and unassailable. However, when a Christian uses it it’s pure laziness, an attempt to get out of the work involved in active cooperation with God’s shaping us. After all, if moodiness and self-centeredness and short temper are “just the way I am,” there’s no use trying to change, because it’d be a losing battle anyway—so I can dispense with the struggle to do the right thing, the humiliation of failing yet again, the weeks or months or years invested in developing new habits. I can just sit back and say, “If God really wants to change me, he can do it without my help; and if he doesn’t, who am I to argue with God?”
Yes, who are we to argue with the one who knows everything, who isn’t fooled for a minute by our complaints and excuses, who has the annoying habit of changing us slowly and painfully instead of giving us the instant perfection we’d like (our definition of “perfect” being “so immune to frustration or to doing stupid things that we can finally sit back and coast through the rest of life”); and who, for some crazy and inexplicable reason, still cares enough never to give up on us?
Katherine Swarts is a freelance journalist and copywriter from Houston, Texas; her Web site is at http://www.spreadthewordcommercialwriting.com. She also writes poetry for her Christian devotional blog (http://newsongsfromtheheart.blogspot.com) and for church ministries.