a rare occasion for me to ever finish a to-do list. This is most
likely due, at least in part, to my tendency to make “ought to do”
lists instead of “able to do” lists — I fill the page with all the
things I’d like to accomplish, whether its sixty-five things around the
house I’d like to get fixed, or all the craft projects for which I’ve
bought supplies, or all the things I’d like to organize . . . and yet,
this evening when I got home from having a birthday tea party with a
friend, I wandered around the basement kind of pacing, wondering what
to do, and having the munchies. (I think that’s proof that I
often eat out of boredom, a habit I’d like to quell.) What does this have to do with Lent? you
may wonder. Now, I’ve wrestled with the idea of whether or not
the details of one’s fasting regimens are meant to be completely
private, but for the purposes of this particular post, I’ll tell
you: I’ve given up television for Lent. So when I came home
today, whereas normally I would have probably fixed myself something to
eat and plopped down in front of the TV, I instead found myself at a
loss. Oh, sure, in my head, there’s a perpetual list a mile long
of things I should be doing, and yet I found myself in a slight state
of inertia, wondering what to start. That thought process lead me
to the self-depricating thoughts (which I’m sure most people have)
like, “Why can’t I ever seem to get things started?” and “Why don’t I
ever finish things?” and, more simply, “Why am I so unmotivated?” which
then reminded me of a bible verse. After extensive searching
(hooray for!) I found it, and then cross-referenced it in
my copy of The Message.

The basic verse I wanted was Romans 7:18-19:

For I
know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the
desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.
19For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do.

But I like the phrasing, and the way The Message puts it into context:

15What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.
if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do
it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. 17But I need something more! For if I know the law
but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps
sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! 18I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it.
19I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.
decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has
gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. 21It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.
22I truly delight in God’s commands,
it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of
me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. 24I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the
end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that
the real question? 25The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and
does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where
I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the
influence of sin to do something totally different.

Now you may think “doing things I absolutely despise” is an awefully
harsh way to look at my TV habit. Fair
enough. But this verse is part of the reason I abstain from
something during Lent — to be reminded that no matter how strong my
will-power may be, it will eventually always fail me, but there is One
who never will. And hey, it may sound cheesy to you, but this
stuff is way better than the Oscars.