You ever get upset and do something completely irrational? I’ve gone almost an entire year without eating any chocolate (that wasn’t fair trade), but Saturday I almost broke that commitment. As I mentioned the other day, we were having a bad day with car trouble and all, and I was really struggling with how frustrating things have been lately. It hasn’t even been so much the circumstances that have created the problems, so much as I felt it was our convictions.
We have a conviction that debt is not a good thing and we are working hard to pay off all of our debt as quickly as possible. We have a conviction that ‘our money’ is not simply ours to spend on whatever we want but it is to be used to meet the needs of the community at large. These sorts of convictions have lead us to be hesitant about spending our money, hesitant about upgrading our car, and hesitant about doing other things that simply serve our own interest. All that to say, Saturday, when our car didn’t start, I had a clash within me between my convictions and my current situation.
I am a person of faith, which is what drives my convictions, and I was struggling with the fact that my efforts to be faithful had resulted in the current circumstances of a dead car, unnecessary spending on a taxi, being late and appearing irresponsible for a meeting, etc. Basically, I was mad at God. I had upheld my end of the bargain, why wasn’t God?
Here’s where I went wrong. Mad at God or not, my convictions have roots in more then just following particular rules. I care about my fellow human beings (which is probably why following a belief system that says ‘love your neighbor’ seems to make sense to me). The motivating factor in a lot of my good decisions, morals and convictions is love for others (I don’t often do the ‘good’ things though). Yet, this is where I almost broke my commitment.
I’ve chosen not to eat chocolate unless I know it was fairly made. That is, the reason I’ve chosen not to eat chocolate indiscriminately is that a lot of chocolate is made by enslaved children harvesting in cocoa fields in West Africa. They are why I choose not to eat chocolate.
On Saturday, I was at a workshop and after lunch they put out a bunch of snacks, all of which had chocolate in them. I was still mad that our car had not started, and I was brooding to myself about just giving up my convictions, seeing as how it had gotten me in the situation. Follow my faulty logic and I decided that because of the negative outcome of the car not starting (I was mad at God about that) I figured I might as well have a cookie, since that’s what I wanted. Have you ever been there?
Fortunately, I had enough sense to not do it (if only so that I could be honest about my selfish self-righteousness to you). I realized that those children working in the cocoa field had nothing to do with my car not starting. If following my convictions was only an effort to stubbornly follow some religious rules then they are worthless convictions anyways. However, if they are convictions based on my love for God and my love for my neighbor, then I should be careful not to so foolishly argue them away.