On Attitude

Attitude is greater than aptitude.

That platitude is simple to understand, intellectually. When dealing with matters of the heart and soul, it seems obvious that the emotional attitude, effort, and commitment we apply are more important assets than our intellectual capacity for learning and understanding.

In practice, applying that lesson is a tremendous, monumental task.

As someone that has always been pridefully self-reliant–and perhaps too clever for my own good–I find that it is difficult to admit that I cannot bear a burden on my own. In our culture, we suffer from a chasmic dichotomy. We are taught from a young age that we can do anything we desire with our lives, and that simple elbow grease and determination and a little know how can overcome any obstacle.  On the other side of the canyon is the wisdom that not only are we incapable of bearing the burden of the world by ourselves, but also the admission that we were not meant to carry that burden alone.

The first part of the previous sentence seems obvious during the most difficult times of our lives, or at least it feels that way to me. I have felt overwhelmed, and I have borne my burden poorly.  I have suffered setbacks, and I have sought refuge in trying to control my environment, thinking that order and control of as much of the madness as possible will put my heart at ease. Such order is not the answer. It also requires an admission of failure and weakness, which is another stigma in our American culture (particularly as a man). But the truth is that the second half of that above sentence is the key for me. In order to truly open my heart to Christ, I must admit to myself that I was not made to bear the yoke. I was made to walk by his side, so that he can bear the brunt of the burden for me, and he might shelter me from the sand and sun and storm.

I have behaved thus far in my life as though the key to my soul’s peace was insulating myself from chaos and disorder.  I feel now as though I have been very wrong.  Insulating myself from those things resulted only in isolating me from the world, not from my own problems. Even in the best, most perfect moments, our world is a bit of a mess. Chaos, disorder and hatred surround us, and it is impossible for me to overcome them on my own. I don’t have the strength of will for such a weight. Until now, I sought to separate myself from my peers by rising above my own weakness, but I believe now that those weaknesses are not my fault; they are not a flaw or a failure on my behalf. That is what it means to be human! Accepting Christ in my heart and soul is simply an admission that I am ready to have my burden lifted from my shoulders.

I’m not saying that that admission and acceptance will be easy; I am prideful and stubborn.  But I am saying that at least now I believe I understand the first level of what it will take to accept the help of the Lord.

(Second) Verse of the day: Psalm 55:22

Cast your cares on the Lord
    and he will sustain you;

Prayer:  Father above us, Father among us, Father in our hearts, now is a time for sharing. I ask you to share your unconditional love, and in return I will share my burden with you, for I know that you were meant to carry it for me.

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