"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."
Why do I do that which I do not want to do?
I tell myself I will never...and then I do.
I will never freeze out my husband instead of calmly discussing the issue at hand...and then I do.
I will never lash out verbally at my child, cutting him down in anger...and then I do.
I will never get upset over unimportant things, like unmatched clothes or bathwater on the floor...and then I do.
What a wretched woman I am!
I begin to understand what it means for the "sins of the fathers" to be visited on the children through the generations. For how could it be any different? How can we pass on that which we do not know? It takes so much work, overcoming those responses that have become so ingrained over the years, those automatic first responses, so much a part of us that to change them requires that we change our very core. And I try - oh, I try - but then out of my mouth, echoes from the past, full of hurt and anger and how could I say such a thing?
The baby cries. I open the door to go to him and he reaches for me with everything, every part of his body straining, as only a baby can, to the source of his comfort and nourishment. I lay beside and he rolls into me, snuggles against me, rooting for food and reassurance. As I nurse and cuddle him peacefully back to sleep, I wonder, when did I last reach with such full-bodied purpose to the one true source of comfort and sustanance? Yearning, straining, reaching, as an infant for its mother, wanting nothing more and nothing less than the safety and provision of the Father? Provider, Sustainer, Giver of Life!
I think back, and I remember. Those darkest years that I rarely think of and speak of even less. That lowest moment, preparing to take away the precious life that I had been granted, longing to find blissful relief in death. In desperation, straining towards Him with everything, and then feeling more clearly than ever before or ever since His arms, His presence, His love. I sob in relief. He is there, He loves me, I am safe.
But now, with the road relatively smooth, I start to forget. I begin to believe, instead, that I can provide. That I can sustain. That I can do it on my own.
I need Him every bit as much now as I did on that dark night. Only with Him can I finally do away with all the parts of me that I am so ashamed of. Only with Him can I replace them with a new legacy, one of peace and love and encouragement. Only with Him can I truly die to self, not taking my life but freely giving it to Him, the One Who can remake me in the image of the Son. I praise Him daily that He who has begun a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. One day, it will be completed, I will be complete...but until then, I must every day, this day, put aside my sinful nature and put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Deliberate. Intentional. Responsive, not reactive. This must be the daily rhythm of my life, always filtered through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
And that same Spirit will bring forth fruit in my life.
A legacy worth passing on. Fruit to bring about more fruit, its seeds being passed down through the years. No more I will never...but instead, I will. I will, because it is what I know. I will, because it is good and right. I will, because it is what I lived.