Monday, November 20, 2006

Quick Thoughts on Good Intentions

So, I recently promised to find a certain quote from a Kierkegaard essay and this time I pulled through. The essay is called "To Will One Thing", and I was reading it at a very crucial time. While living in North Carolina, I was faced with the dilemma of trying to find a job without the usual connections from Church. Before that time, I had never interviewed for a job. In fact, I hadn't really ever looked for a job--they always managed to find me. Obviously, the job-hunting process was very foreign to me, but my shyness and anxiety in new situations made the process increasingly awkward. With each unsuccessful attempt at employment I lost a bit more of my motivation to continue on. You get the picture, it basically sucked. But throughout this period, I held on to one thing--the fact that even though I couldn't get a job, I still really wanted one.

Enter Kierkegaard. What a jerk.

I was gracious enough to read his essays, even though he isn't even alive, yet within the first pages of the first essay he was exposing my utter loserliness. There I sat at 3 Cups on Franklin St., drinking peppermint tea and telling myself, "Well self, at least you want to get a job. That's way better than being a deadbeat who doesn't want to work." Then I read this: "This much is certain: the greatest thing each person can do is to give himself to God utterly and unconditionally--weaknesses, fears, and all. For God loves obedience more than good intentions or second-best offerings, which are all too often made under the guise of weakness."

At that time, I was completely defrauded. My front of desiring to get a job could no longer blind my conscience. Before reading this, I applied for jobs with these caveats--"I'm just learning this process, it takes time and practice so I might as well ease into it"; "God knows my personality and that this doesn't come to me naturally"; "I've never lived in a city before, so I need to get used to it." But these were just excuses. I thought it was good enough to acknowledge my weaknesses and half-heartedly pursue my desires, and that God would turn all those weak ingredients into some kind of casserole that still tastes good even though it's just a bunch of random crap. Kierkegaard showed me that my attitude should be to give all of myself to God, including my shortcomings. And knowing that if I'm obedient despite my weaknesses, God will be more glorified than if I just say, "Well, God, I wanted to try. And that's what counts, right?"

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