That said - I want to write a little about my Giant Despair who holds me captive in Castle Doubt. (I am taking these terms from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.) My giant could aptly be named "Perfection." Because, I have such expectations of myself that are highly unrealistic. I don't know about you, but some days I expect myself to be better than I am...to never make the same mistake more than once.
Here is a picture of my Giant Despair (with Bethany writing in third person... how annoying):
Bethany wakes up at 3 am and trudges to the kitchen to put Paul's lunch items together. Bethany feels good about this service, and knows that she is doing the right thing by seeing her husband off and kissing him goodbye. Several
nightsmornings a week Bethany will stay up and do her Bible reading at that quiet hour. She is deeply convicted by sin and begs God to give her more love for God and more love for mankind. She makes some resolves about how to better serve her family.
Bethany grows so weary with this reading that she decides to go back to bed... the sun is just rising. She is sleeping soundly when screaming begins in another room. Such a call to attention! She gets up and races to the other room to see two children wrestling on the floor and another cutting holes in clothes with the new scissors. She immediately loses her temper and, in a fit of anger, screams at the children.
Feeling immediately guilty and defeated she flies back to her room and throws herself down on the bed. "Lord, I am so wicked. How could I be so impatient. Why did I have to go back to sleep?! Why did I have to yell? I am such a heathen." Giant Perfection sits by laughing, feeling proud of himself. Until -
Bethany goes and apologizes to the children (after a few more minutes of crying). She hugs the children and they forgive her. All is well.
Within the hour, while she is folding laundry, someone has wasted all the hand soap again, put a toy in the toilet again, wrote on the wall again, and spilled water all over the bathroom floor again (at least, she hopes it's water).
She immediately goes into hysterics, "How many times have I told you..." And, the cycle continues.
Giant Perfection then sequesters Bethany while she is in her room begging God for mercy. Giant Perfection tells Bethany that she has no patience, and since patience is a fruit of the Spirit, then she must not have the Spirit, Bethany cries, "It's true, Lord. I am so impatient. I never improve. I must not be a believer at all, because clearly I don't have the fruits of the Spirit."
Unless God breaks through with the Key of Promise (that is, promises of assurance from the Scripture) then Bethany will be doomed to dwell in Castle Doubt for far too long.
This same scenario can be replayed using the theme of joy, love, peace, etc. Any time I have a bad day (or several in succession) Satan jumps at the opportunity to make me feel like the worst mother/wife/Christian in the world. Some days he succeeds, and I downward spiral into deeper despair.
But, some days I remember:
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 NASB)
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.(Phil 1:6 NASB)
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.(Psalm 103:12)
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins." (Isa 43:25 NASB)
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John1:9 NASB)
I know that I will never be perfect in this life. Yet, Giant Perfection wants to make me his slave! His is too hard of a master! I choose Christ as my master. His yoke is easy and His burden is light!
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”(Matt 11:28-30 NASB)
Disclaimer: I am not using this as a license for habitual sin. God's Word is plain that we ought not "practice" our sins.