"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Break the Rules?

I’m a die-hard rule-follower who married a man who doesn’t read instruction manuals let alone follow rules religiously. Sometimes a little bitty conflict erupts due to this discrepancy between us.
A few years ago, Tony and I stayed the night in a small town in Indiana. Construction workers were remodeling an old hotel in French Lick, and Tony wanted to see the progress. As we drove down the street, we encountered one of those “danger, do not enter” signs. Tony ignored it and kept driving.
“Wait! We can’t drive down here. Didn’t you see that sign?” I asked.
“Sure, but it’s ok. No one’s going to stop us!”
“Yeah, but we are breaking the rules. We aren’t supposed to drive beyond the sign! Turn around!” I’m panicking, looking around for the swarm of police that are surely waiting around the bend to arrest us.
“It’s fine, Annette. Nothing’s going to happen.” Tony keeps driving towards the palatial hotel ahead.
“Turn around, Tony. We are NOT supposed to be here!” I’m waiting for someone to pounce on us like a cat on a mouse. A gargantuan hotel rises before us, but I can’t appreciate it; I’m too concerned about the trouble we are about to face.
“Wow! Look at that hotel. It’s amazing, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, sure. Can we get out of here before someone finds us?”
My risk-taking, adventurous, non-rule follower turns around with a sigh and drives away, my panic ruining the experience. It turns out that we weren’t arrested nor were we mauled by the construction mafia. No one even seemed to care that we took a drive down a do not enter lane. Just this uptight, bossy firstborn!

I struggle with this extreme bent in other ways as well. Frequently, I carry this over to my relationship with God in the form of a checklist. Read my Bible—check. Pray—check. Journal—check. The problem with this is two-fold. If I miss reading Scripture one day, I heap guilt on myself. On the other hand, when I consistently read, journal and pray, I puff with pride. Crossing the Bible off my checklist, following the “rules,” becomes the goal instead of growing in my relationship. When I trade in the rules for a relationship, I’m released from duty and drudgery to love and freedom.  God desires me to experience all that He has for me out of love not law, desire not duty, passion not pressure.
In my little adventure with Tony, I missed enjoying the beauty of the old, restored hotel because I was too focused on the rules. And while rules are absolutely vital to smooth running households, schools, communities and governments, maybe it’s okay to—every once in awhile—enjoy the moment. Love, not my list, should draw me to my Creator.

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