I have to confess to having a weakness for the Dramatic sometimes.
I think it stems from all the stories of heroes/heroines I have read and loved since I was a child - you know, fairy tales, fantasy stories, King Arthur and his knights and all that. Of course, when you read these you naturally cast yourself as the Noble Knight On A Quest or the Wise Lady Dispensing Wisdom or the Beautiful Princess Admired By All. When I became a Christian I read stories of saints and martyrs and, naturally, saw myself in those roles too - the Tragic Martyr Who Bravely Held On To Her Beliefs No Matter What. There I stand, on top of the high place, wind blowing my long hair and long skirts, looking nobly, determinedly, (but humbly) into the face of danger, the sun making a halo behind my head, swoon, swoon!
Well, this is all very well when you're little, or when you're reading the book, but what about Real Life? Ah, now that's where the problems begin!
I look back on my life and realise how often I have made the same Dramatic Statements.
My family will be familiar with the usual ones:
I'M NEVER CUTTING MY HAIR AGAIN!!
(Biblical Nazarite, Amish, or historical reasons. But, after a year or two, I get fed up with long hairs all over the floor and in the bath, and the amount of time it takes to wash and dry.)
I'M NEVER EATING CHOCOLATE/SUGAR AGAIN!
Which is sometimes expressed as..
I WILL EAT HEALTHILY FROM NOW ON! or
I WILL RESPECT MY BODY!
(Yes, a very hoary chestnut, that one, never maintained beyond a week or two!)
When I gave up teaching, I realised I had the freedom to try out my pipe dreams...
I WILL GROW ALL MY OWN FOOD, AND BOTTLE/PRESERVE IT MYSELF!
(But I only like gardening in certain weathers - not when it's too hot, too cold or too wet.)
I WILL LIVE WITHOUT ELECTRICITY!
(Except in Winter when I get cold and the lack of light triggers my S.A.D. - and when I want to use my laptop, or the microwave...)
I WILL BE A NATURE RESERVE WARDEN!
(See note above about weather.)
I WILL GIVE ALL MY TIME IN SERVICE TO OTHERS!
(Until I'm exhausted and then feel resentful.)
I WILL PRAY 4 TIMES A DAY, LIKE NUNS DO!
(But they live in community, to support each other; and they don't need to cook all their own meals or go shopping.)
I WILL GET UP AT DAWN EACH DAY!
(But this goes completely against my body clock.)
All very laudable statements, but none of them are realistic. Of course, when the Grand Promises get broken, and the Dramatic Gestures can no longer be sustained, I end up swooping down from the mountain tops down, down to the very depths of guilt and self-hate, wallowing in my supposed awfulness...
I'M A TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE PERSON!
HOW CAN GOD EVER LOVE ME?
I AM THE WORST OF SINNERS!
Guess what? These are Dramatic Gestures too - and they're just as unrealistic as the other ones!
So why do I do it?
Mostly it comes from a desire to be a good person, to please God. I am trying to earn God's love, to win respect from other people and, yes, sometimes I suspect I'm showing off a bit too! (Sorry!)
But, when you look at it, this all stems from insecurity, from a lack of belief in God's love for us. It's so hard to really believe and accept that God actually loves us just as we are. We don't have to earn it. We don't have to buy it. God really, really, REALLY loves us!
So, from now on, I'M GIVING UP DRAMATIC GESTURES!
Oh, wait, that's another D.G. isn't it?! Hmm... let's change it... I pray that God will help me to live more realistically, to trust Him more, and believe in His love.
*cue sweeping strings and triumphant brass...*