My irritation was set on simmer, ready to boil over with the slightest increase of heat. I didn’t want to feel it, but it was there, sizzling.
I hated how my speech dripped with annoyance at the smallest request from my kids and how my compassion had dissolved and transformed into a thick substance of indifference.
My heart was ugly and I could see it, but I couldn’t change it.
Peace felt attainable in the effort to correct my circumstances, but doing all of the right things failed to provide any lasting result. The yield of momentary comfort did nothing to extinguish the simmering boil that threatened to bubble over in a hot mess at any given moment.
My heart burned, unsatisfied, and troubled.
I knew that I needed Jesus, but I settled to believe that acknowledging I needed Him was enough. Instead of allowing His presence to align my heart, I was trying to align it myself, and I knew it.
Self-reliance; the fuel of my sinful nature. Always there, coiled, and inviting a comfortable narrative when the pressure is on. No matter how many times I get burned I’m always strangely drawn to its familiar warmth. No matter how much I hate its effects, I never hate its course.
The boiling pot started to hiss and the contents threatened to spill over; I could feel my self-reliant heart being pressed. Instinctively, I acknowledged my sin and lifted the pot from the heat to alleviate the pressure, only to settle it right back into the comfortable warmth of my efforts.
Over and over, back and forth, believing I was dealing with my sin by turning to Jesus when I was actually avoiding Him by being good.
Like a child trying to remedy their own mistake by being quick to throw out the word “sorry,” because it’s the right thing to do, I was recognized my sin but wasn’t actually repentant about it. And my own deceit only fueled the simmering roll of self-sufficiency.
I sat down and opened my journal. For days I’d been asking God to break my heart for what breaks His and when I saw that prayer scribbled in the last entry I wanted to flip it shut and resolve to believe my intention referred only to the hurting, the lost, and the marginalized. But recognizing the root underneath all of those layers, and realizing I was more willing to break over the effects than I was about being broken over the cause, I remembered the sum of what breaks God’s heart is sin.
I had asked God to break my heart like His and was willing to hate the sin of this world, but I didn’t want to hate my own. The wrestle to confess my unwilling heart on the matter only proved my resistance, and instead of falling to my knees the temptation to settle back in simple acknowledgment burned with comfort.
My own self-reliance at work in its finest. An always simmering pot in the middle of the mundane.
It broke God’s heart and He wanted it to break mine too.
Keeping the journal open, I started a new entry: God, break my heart to hate my sin…because I don’t.
As I penned the words, my heart softened. When I re-read the sentence, my heart finally broke. Oh, how vast is my sin. I need Him more than I even know.
In the simple confession that I wasn’t broken over my own sin, God’s gift of true repentance penetrated my heart and extinguished the burning flame of my self-reliance. Like a boiling pot being pulled from a hot burner, I recognized my need for Him as I woke to the depth of my sin. As the simmering lost its fuel, my heart calmed from the roar of my efforts and settled in the sufficiency of His saving grace. And as the water stilled, my soul lulled with peace as He aligned my heart with His.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Kristina M Ward