There are lots of ways I'm consistent in my life: I brush my teeth every morning and evening, drink coffee daily, pack a lunch for my husband Monday through Friday, sit in church every Sunday; I've tried to be consistent with my kids, with exercise, with my relationship to Jesus; and for the most part I consistently make bacon on game days for my kids. It's what we do. I recently lost my way, however. For weeks it's been Costco muffins and ice cream and cinnamon gummy bears in bulk, and I've known the day of reckoning was coming, the day when I check back in to reality and own up to the body I've been abusing.
When I grow up, I'm going to make a plan and stick to it: a plan for eating, a plan for working out, a plan for spending one-on-one time with my kids, a plan for keeping the checkbooks balanced and the bills paid and the floors mopped.
For now I'm ever-wavering and say things like "for the most part I'm consistent..."
I get discouraged over this and beat myself up with lists of short-comings. I'll bet you do this, too. I'll bet most people are good-intentioned on the inside and sweet-toothed and undisciplined on the outside, wanting to behave and respond and live one way but pulled by overwhelming desires in the other direction.
It's not the way we want to live. Jumping on and off the wagon is hard on a body and destructive to a soul that wants to do good, be good, feel good, especially when we mix up our views of consistency and faithfulness.
Paul gives us his famous first century lament to our 21st century problem: "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice." It's classic. We are all hypocrites under this proclamation, weighed down with heavy flesh and wishing for a superhuman resistance to flashy anger and slothful rest and a ravenous appetite; in a strange way it makes me feel better—I'm not alone in my inconsistency.
But a big-picture view of my life, charted with a line connecting the high points, the upward climb, would show a faithfulness that defies inconsistencies. There is comfort in a God Who sees not as man sees, and when I look at the life of David I remember that God gave an overall progress report of his life—"a man after God's own heart"—and not a one-time indictment.
I think we can hold both inconsistency and faithfulness and still be after God's heart.
The beautiful thing in all this inconsistency is that my perfection was never going to win me any merits, anyways. It's all fine that I'm an up-and-down traveler to glory and not a quick progress-er, a hopeful dreamer rather than a steady do-er. God specializes in this kind of grace and even sent His Son to finish for all the good intentioned people who don't, the ones who make progress by faithfully starting over and over, right where they are.
In the meantime, being faithful means getting back on track:
- I'm eating the vegetables and foregoing the sugar. My youngest daughter volunteered herself to do another Whole30 with me, which is really helpful because misery loves company and she drinks her coffee black, anyways. I've begged for half and half and she is unsympathetic. I need that. We're almost over the hump though, and I think we'll soon be able to gloat to the rest of the family about how great we feel.
- I'm turning off notifications and taking notice of the tangibles. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to have headlines from CNN and Fox News pop up on my phone throughout the day, along with Facebook and Instagram and Twitter notifications. I've turned those off. I have to keep relearning that being always connected to the world is not good for my soul. I need to be responsibly informed, not perpetually updated. The tangibles: I'm taking note of one verse or writing a one sentence summary of what I read in the morning and adding it to my bullet journal list for the day. I look at that list often...consistently.
- Getting my thoughts back on track is imperative to being faithful, and music always helps. My favorite songs right now are this and this.
Fall is always a time for fresh notebooks and new routines and schedules for us. It's the perfect time to get back in the game in all the areas I've let go over the summer. I also like the first day of the month, every Monday, those first couple hours of each day; I'm hoping to discipline myself to see the first minute of each hour as a resetting, too.
What if the reason for time is simply so we can mark all the grace we've been given? What if noticing that grace is more important than our consistency to follow rules we've made? And what if our lenses were adjusted occasionally to see all the areas we've been faithful, because of grace?
We might change our habits and that might change our attitudes and all together our faithfulness, which is the cure for inconsistency, might increase.