Doesn't this look delectable? Oh, my. Whatever it is, it's what it was meant to be. Someone followed some kind of recipe -- they assembled all the ingredients, did the prep work, and ended up with this stupendous concoction.
I just jumped into a book by Donald Miller, a rather unflinchingly genuine writer who writes about being an unflinchingly genuine Christian. (Okay, so maybe sometimes he flinches, but he'll probably tell you all about it.) He compares self-help formulas to following a recipe. If we try to "do" certain things to please God, we're actually trying to control our own outcome. Having a relationship with God is like... having a relationship! There are good days and bad days, and times when we're totally together and times when we're out of sync. But the point of the relationship is the relationship.
Humanly speaking, it is extremely frustrating to realize that there's no toothpick test for doneness, no measure that shows I'm progressing adequately toward the desired product. Come to think of it, whose product am I, anyway? I don't have a photograph to aim for, except I know that I am to grow up in all aspects in Him who is the head, even Christ. But I won't ever turn into His clone -- I'll be me, made in His image. I will have certain quirks and gifts and weaknesses, just because I am me. My only goal is to become more like Him.
I think I'd like to have a recipe to follow and a photo to emulate. But that's not how He works. And if I really had control, it would mean I would have to control everything about myself. That means I'd have to be responsible for all my failures. No forgiveness, no mercy, no arm around the shoulder with a gentle, "It's okay now."
It's decided, then. I'll keep trying to do this His way, without formulaic instructions, so He can lavish me with undeserved love and pure affection, in spite of my shortcomings. It's all about grace.