In Romans 7:15, St. Paul said this: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

Dude, that was written roughly 2,000 years ago, and when I read that on a blog today, I thought, “Get out of my head!”  And then I realized that some things are universal.  It doesn’t matter if you were an apostle of Jesus 2,000 years ago or if you are a 30-something lawyer in Seattle in 2010.

Man or woman.
socio-economic status
marital status…

None of these things removes you from the reality that, as fallen and broken human beings, we struggle.  We value one thing (health) but choose another (unhealthy foods).  We desire one thing (to lose weight) but choose another (to sit on the couch).  And we do it over and over again, sometimes.

You don’t have to believe in Jesus to acknowledge how profound (and yet, how simple) it is that people today struggle with the same feelings that people 2,000 years ago wrestled with, too.  So why am I bringing this up now?  If the struggle never changes what’s the point, you ask?

Along with flash of total and utter despair discouragement that I initially felt when I started thinking about this, that’s not where the story ends.  The story doesn’t end with the struggle; it only begins there.  Whether you view this in a spiritual light or not (I do), the same lesson is true: you can overcome.

The verse above?  It was written by a man who went on to become a legend in the Christian church, a father of Christianity, really.  (I mean, come on – his stuff is in the Bible, people!)  He didn’t wallow for long in the fact that he wrestled with temptations or struggles – he worked out a way to turn those struggles over to God and to overcome, little by little, day by day.

It wasn’t about perfection for him, and it can’t be for us, either.  We can overcome, day by day.  Maybe you believe in a God who cares about your everyday life and find your strength in him.  Maybe you take a less traditional view of spirituality.  Either way, if you believe that there is something greater in this world than the sum of your decisions over time…that gives you hope.

I don’t know where this is coming from today.  I don’t ordinarily talk about my faith on my blog because while it’s important to me, it’s not what this blog is about.  But I wanted to share what I “discovered” in reading this verse: greater men and women than me throughout history have faced great struggles.  “Bigger” and “smaller” struggles than mine, to be sure.  And despite the universal nature of the struggle, we as human beings have never chosen to just give up.  Throw up our hands, lay down, and wait for death to take us.  (insert melodramatic overture here)

Why?  Because there is hope.  And the struggle doesn’t have to win.  It’s a part of life, for sure.  We can’t avoid it, not entirely.  But we can embrace it, learn from it, and eventually rise above it, at least some of the time.

That gives me hope.

What gives you hope?