I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. Romans 7: 15-20Like St. Paul, I also get so frustrated with myself when I don’t do what I want when I’m trying to do it and then I do what I didn’t want and I think why can’t I just do what I want when I’m trying to do what I want, but it’s so hard to do it! And I don’t want to. But I want to! This inner struggle not only affects our souls, but other souls as well. This is what I call The Great Christian Dilemma.
The Three StagesStage 1 of The Dilemma is what St. Paul is talking about: that inner conflict. Stage 2 - Once we declare our Christianity, we put ourselves on full display. People, non-Christians as well as Christians, are watching us either turn to sin, or away, and judging it all by the standards we say we believe in. Stage 3 of this Great Christian Dilemma is how that inner conflict turns non-believers away from Christianity. Has anyone ever given you a hard time for being “so religious,” yet so awful? Maybe you’ve heard something like, “You’re always talking about God, but you’re not acting very Christian.” Ouch. Oooph. Yikes. I know I have flaw upon flaw upon flaw. I don’t go to church and pray because I think I’m awesome. I go because I need help! Soo much help. I am trying to live my faith with all my heart, but this is really hard. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak! So weak! Back in high school when I was going through an atheistic phase, I thought God and his minions were all a bunch of frauds. I saw Christians being judgmental, snobby, and phony. I remember thinking so many times, “If that’s what a Christian is, I don’t want to be one.” It wasn’t fair of me to judge God by his people and I should have given my Christian classmates a break. But, unfortunately for me, the actions of others is what kept me away from faith a while longer.
The TakeawayWhile we should not stay fixated on the cause and effect of this Dilemma, we do need to be mindful of it. We need to be mindful of it for our own souls, as well as for the souls that are observing and seeking. We should be striving at every moment for sainthood, but we know that it is not a perfect journey. The walk is hard and we make the walk look very ugly at times. We will fall again and again, but we know we are in love with a forgiving and merciful God that is gentle with us while correcting and reminding. Most importantly, we must never forget that God loves us in our giftedness as well as our brokenness ... thank God!
Copyright 2018 Stephanie Stovall
About the Author
Stephanie Stovall loves Oklahoma State University and hanging out with her husband. She keeps Holy Mary busy praying for patience with her five little boys. Stephanie loves God, Catholicism and evangelizing with all her heart! You can find more of her messy thoughts over on TheBlessedFruit.com