I always want to be the exception. What's worse is my natural tendency to think that I am.
I have never liked rules, and in my BC- days (yes, as in before Christian), and even sometimes now, finding a way to exempt myself from following them gave me a great deal of satisfaction.
"You have to study to get good grades" or better yet, "you have to attend class to get good grades"
"You have to work out to have a great figure"
"You have to wear makeup to look pretty"
"You have to put in the most effort to be the best"
The list goes on and on with rules – society's rules of life.
I felt being above the rules made me special somehow, different from the rest of the masses. "Everyone else has to live according to the rules, but not you," I would subconsciously assure myself, "you're one of the exceptions." I wanted to be the exception.
My high school and early university years did nothing to discourage this desire. As time wore on, experience after experience pounded into my mind the notion that what made me special or unique or worthy was that somehow I had risen beyond the matrix: that I saw the rules of life, understood them, and found a way to live (successfully) above them.
Unfortunately, once I became a Christian, this destructive thought pattern found its way into my Christianity. Not in the early days, no. In the early days, it lay in wait, hiding underneath my fear of turning back into the person I had been redeemed from being.
In the early days, I took the rules very seriously, trusting that God knew better than me and not questioning that his rules were in place for a reason.
But as the seasons changed, and I grew, I began to understand the reasons behind the boundaries God gives us. That's when the thought pattern returned with intentions to take me out of the race for good. Cloaked in false humility, it no longer sang "I'm the best, I'm the best, the rules don't apply to meeee" but instead, "I fully and deeply understand why God put this boundary in place, so there is no way I will fall without it, even if I place myself in the realm of this temptation. I can handle it. I'm strong enough."
The two sentiments are not that different when boiled down to their guts, but sound a whole lot different to the willingly- deceived mind.
David had sex with Bathsheba
Let's switch gears for a moment and consider the story of David and Bathsheba told in 2 Samuel. As the story goes, David is casually walking around his roof when he sees the very- beautiful Bathsheba bathing. He sends a messenger to find out who she is, and finds that she is the wife of Uriah, one of his soldiers. David decides he doesn't care, summons her, and they ... you know.
Does this not baffle anyone else the way it baffles me?? Preachers love to put up David as the "example of a sinner" because of this story, and I may be alone in this, but every time I open up the Psalms I am floored with the intimacy in which David loved God and the profundity of his knowledge of God's character.
If there was ever a man who "got it", it was David. So how on earth did this man fall so rapidly and unglamorously into such devastating sin? This story has something to teach us, and it is a huge lesson on our pride, the way sin works, and something God understands much better than we do: our weakness.
You don't need to be the exception
So what exactly does this teach us? It teaches us that we are not the exception. We are not the one man or women alive who is able to resist temptation.
I believe it teaches us that no one, no matter how advanced they are in their faith, how deep their understanding of theology, or how intimate their relationship with God, is exempt from carefully observing the boundary lines put in place by God.
The sometimes extreme-seeming boundary lines are not training wheels to be taken off once we learn how to ride our bikes properly. They are the helmet that is never meant to come off.
God is all about rules – pleasant ones, life-giving ones. Boundary lines that fall for us in pleasant places (Psalm 16 verse 6). And He says to us, "you already are special – not because you are the exception to any rule, but simply because I say you are".
Tina Hakimi again lives in Arizona and writers. Tina lived in Sydney doing her PhD., at UNSW. Tina says she is (obviously) still figuring it all out.
Tina Hakimi's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tina-hakimi.html