In high school, I made a few short films. I got on a filmmaking kick after working on a few projects for my freshman year English class, and it carried on until even after I graduated from high school. My longest film, called Ransom My Soul, was completed during the summer before I went to college.
However, my favorite film I ever did was called Breaking Winter. Here it is:
It’s about 10 minutes of the most depressing yet joyful high school romance I could possibly muster on a script and on a screen. Every time I watch it, I get a little reminiscent of what all went into making the film. The conversations with my friends to be involved in it. The rewrites of the script. The long editing process. I actually made the entire movie in an 18-minute version and then, on suggestion of my film teacher, reworked the structure of the whole thing and cut it down.
But I also notice all the things I would change if I did it with what I know now. I would have asked the guy with the long hair to be more joyful in the video game scene. I would have done a couple different camera angles. Get the audio quality to be much better.
I think it’s part of my personality. I obsess over the little things. I want to get everything right all the time. And if there’s something I might feel could be wrong, I want to fix it right away, even if it’s not actually wrong; just feeling wrong can be a sign for me.
And this is something I think that’s a flaw. I don’t trust myself fully and, even worse, I don’t trust God fully. I anxiously overthink many things in my life. Most notably, my relationship with God. There have been moments when I doubt if I’m saved. There have been moments when my anxiety just overwhelms me.
One particular area of my life that this strikes is my concern that I’m not doing enough for God. Last night as I was going to bed, I felt like I didn’t get my “Bible fill” for the day. But looking back at the day, I read Scripture, I thought about it, prayed after it. So I was being faithful, but I felt like I didn’t do enough.
I may be the only person who feels this way often. And I think there’s some legitimacy to this feeling. We want to be giving God our best, doing the right things, being obedient. But there’s a sense where thinking we haven’t done enough can often be a self-condemning thought that actually denies the power of grace and the limitations of man.
We will never do “enough” for God, and thankfully we don’t have to do “enough” for God. I think of Philippians 3, one of my favorite chapters in Scripture, where Paul says that he counted doing all the “right things” as loss for the sake of knowing Christ. Simply knowing Christ was enough for his righteousness.
One thing I’ve heard recently was put forth by the guys of the Bad Christian Podcast: Is sin really as big a deal as we make it out to be? Joey Svendsen, one of the guys on the podcast, wrote a blog post about the topic and said this:
I see God concerned about Christians’ sin, but not how you would probably expect. I don’t see Him pissed about our sin. I see Him as one that hates our sin because it infringes on the relationship that He wants to have with us. A Christian that gets tangled up in a continual sin-filled lifestyle can’t (in my opinion) relate and interact with God in the same manner as one that is constantly letting God help with our sin.
From experience, the remedy for living a sinful lifestyle has never been focusing on the do’s and don’ts. This always led me to more sin. The more I focus on God’s love and grace, the more I’m enabled to live according to His loving will.
I love this idea because it releases us from the pharisaical legalism that often threads itself throughout modern Christianity and helps us to really love God, not obsess over the little things we might think we need to do to be a Christian. Because here’s the truth: if I don’t read my Bible for a day, I’m still a Christian. If I don’t pray for more than five minutes in one day, I’m still a Christian.
Now, is there a point where we’re not doing things that are essential to growing in Christ that’s not good? Yes. I should seek to grow in the spiritual disciplines in order to grow as believers.
But as Svendsen writes, the more I focus on God’s love and grace, the more I grow to live for Jesus. When I focus on ways I’m falling short, I just get more discouraged.
The Christian life is all about making constant course corrections, little alterations here and there in order to drive straight. But don’t let the fact that you have to make those course corrections define you or discourage you.