I hate those squares in the Snakes and Ladders game, the ones with the long snakes. They set you back SO MUCH. Several rows in just one move. There’s even one long snake really close to the finishing square. This is cruel, when you are so close to winning the game, you suffer, what’s not a setback, but a major fall. All those “one step at a time”s for nothing! And after that it’s disheartening even to continue playing the game. Throwing the dice umpteen turns again, to try not to be bit by the long one, AGAIN!
Pretty much like how I don’t want to do something bad, try to avoid it, take baby steps, carefully, cautiously, hoping and praying to reach the finish line, only to be overtaken by a single moment that sets me back so many steps. Back to square one. Just one moment, one hasty word, one uncontrolled outpour. The pot’s not in my hand anymore, it’s on the floor, million pieces, scattered. If only I had caught it midway. Or if only the ground I was treading on was soft enough to cushion my falls. And it’s always always a clay pot, never plastic, never rubber. There are always casualties. Damages done, feelings hurt, anger and fear evoked. If only I had a warning system that alerted me that I am about to do some irreversible damage, that will alter things permanently. However, when I think about it, I would silence the alerts too. And just like the treacherous board game, the fall usually happens after days of improvement, days of holding it together, days of “being better”, rendering whatever background struggles I had to endure, meaningless. Someone who passes by the board, or is pricked by the pieces of my broken vessel only sees how I am in square two after so long, or how I have a broken mess under my feet. I can try to explain that I have played hard, but when there are too many pieces, it just doesn’t make any sense. Explanations fall short that they are better left unsaid.
As the pieces tear their skin, do they realise they break my heart too?
Dear Mr.Paul also did the very things he didn’t want to do. Who knows how difficult the thorn in his flesh was?!
…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Romans 7:18,19
However, he seems to have done so much good too. Good enough to make his mistakes fade away, maybe? In my life, only the bad seems to accumulate. And in my pursuit of doing and being better, worse things happen. It’s like I’m running on a treadmill. I’m sweating, I’m tired, I’m hurting, but I am just not getting anywhere. The reading says I have run two miles, but I haven’t moved an inch.
How much is too much? How many more chances till I have no more chances? Do I simply give up, because this seems too much right now. When I cannot understand myself, how can those around me? I wish I could cut my heart open and put it on display, so that they’ll know what goes on. If only!
You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. Psalm 139: 1-4
So, there’s someone who is not oblivious of what goes on inside of me, when He sees what I do on the outside. Even more, He promises to make it all better, He promises deliverance.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24, 25
Who will rescue me? Who will understand the war? Who will end it all? He. Who helps me make peace with all the damage that I have already done? He. Who will not spare me of the consequences of my actions, but discipline me lovingly? He. And so if Square Three is my lot now, and a hundred snakes are what it takes, even then, even so, I will keep playing. I may have to go through more pain, trying to fix what I have broken, I may have to let go of people to avoid more damage, but still I will play, and wait, and endure. And maybe it will get easier, or maybe not all. I may have support, or none at all. But He is my portion, and I will try to rest secure.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26