Getting It All Right Is Impossible

Doesn’t matter if you’re religious, spiritual, neither, or both — so much of human life is spent trying voraciously to ‘get it right’.

Trying to get it right is a head thing. And at a certain level, this is fine.

If I were to try to learn to play the banjo tomorrow (don’t think I won’t do it), though my heart might’ve led me to the endeavor (besides, who doesn’t want to be like Bela Fleck), it’s the head that gets me to a point of proficiency.

But even if I start playing incredibly well, technically speaking, no toes will be tapping in my audience (aka, my living room where I’d have forced my wife and daughter to listen to me).

It’s the shift from head to heart that gets those toes tapping.

That’s a scary shift. Terrifying, in fact. It requires a deep surrender. It means that I have to tell my head to take its hands off the wheel and let a much more ethereal thing to take over.

It’s so much safer to play from the head than from the heart.
So much more comfortable (as bad as it hurts).

It’s written that the Pharisees were experts at playing from the head. Only they weren’t playing banjos, they were playing life. Which isn’t really playing at all. It’s more that they were doing life. And trying like hell to do it better.

Good on them, I say. These were people who wanted to live rightly. Who wanted to do good things. Who strived to live a life in alignment with the divine requirements and covenant of their faith.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. But when they went to Jesus with this, he revealed to them something that they weren’t in a million years expecting…

If you’re trying too hard to get it all right, you’re probably getting it all wrong.

Externally speaking, you can live your most ideal life. You can check all the boxes and dot all the i’s. But if you’re not living from the heart, you’re no better off than you were when you started.

Which leads me to another thought…

Even living from the heart can be a head thing if I’m trying to force it. If I use my head to live from my heart, I’m still living from my head.


Surrender is hard. Especially if we try to do it alone. I’d even say it’s impossible.

I need to be saved from myself in order for my head to let go. I need to run entirely out of resources in order for this to happen. I need a rightness outside of my own to fully possess me if my head is gonna release this steering wheel of life. I’d rather white-knuckle it for the rest of my days than let go.

To my head, this seems a lot like suicide. But to my heart, there is no other way.

Life has all kinds of unexpected and inconvenient ways of forcing the hands of my mind free. This is because, according to my plan, I’ll die trying to get it right.

Or, I can recognize that, in Christ, I am wearing the rightness of creation itself. In the waters of my baptism, the old me has died, death is behind me, and eternal life is all that lies ahead.

If that’s the case, what more is there to do but… Live? Enjoy? Play? Mess up? Try better? Serve as best as I can? Sure, why not? What better way to spend my short time here?

There’s where we find the heart of the matter.

Did you hear that sound?

Yep, that was the sound of my head totally exploding.

In this gospel promise,
we come to the end of logic
and the beginning
of a new life