I hate how much I fear man. I do. I’m such a slave to it sometimes. I spend so much of my life trying to avoid people that I realize how enslaved I am to them! It’s so ridiculous and not at all fun. I try to control everything and this is even apparent with the sign on my door that says, “No soliciting of any kind”. I just don’t want to deal with telling people NO so I put a sign on my door that does it for me.
Except most of the time…the sign doesn’t work. I probably would have otherwise hid and not answered my door but our doors were opened yesterday letting in the fresh air. So my dog started barking like a wild beast and there was a ring at the door so I went to see who it was. It was almost unavoidable since the guy saw me. So like a typical sales guy who ignores such signs even if they are taped to his nose, the guy says, “Oh, I didn’t see your sign” and somehow I felt sorry for the guy. I took notice of his company name on his shirt. We weren’t shopping around for new windows, but hey, maybe we could just get someone out here to give us a bid. What would it hurt? At least I don’t have to let the guy down and hurt his feelings.
The problem is, I knew I needed to say NO to this guy. I knew it and I didn’t listen to the voice (holy spirit) telling me what I should do. So suddenly I had an appointment at 6pm the next day for new windows. When I told my husband, I thought he’d understand my predicament. Instead he said, “Why didn’t you just tell him no? We don’t need new windows!” and all sympathy for my fear of man went right out the window. I kind of sulked. “He doesn’t know how hard it is to say no. It’s easy for him to say no. He likes being mean to people.” My husband went on to tell me that it isn’t mean, that people who sell things are trying to get me to feel sorry for them and I fell right into the trap. I totally realized I inconvenienced my husband by having him sit with a windows guy and he wasn’t even asked. So, even though it made me upset he didn’t take my side, I realized today that I was wrong. I found the number to the place online (they didn’t give me a card, but luckily I remembered the name and was able to look it up). I noticed all the yelp reviews too and they weren’t so great. Then I felt like an idiot after realizing this company was just duping me. My husband was right! I knew that, but I didn’t want to admit it.
So I called there and cancelled the appointment. The guy on the phone tried 3 times to get me to reconsider and each time I said no. It reminded me of Peter who had 3 opportunities to make up for his denial of Jesus by telling Jesus he loved him 3 times. When I hung up the phone, it felt good that I was able to reverse my idiotic decision and free up my husband to not be stressed out by a sales guy trying to sell overpriced windows. I should have listened the first time. Even if my husband didn’t say it so lovingly, he was right–I should have said “no”.
This isn’t the first time where I didn’t take his advice and it cost me. A month or two ago, I didn’t listen to my husband and I ended up doing a bunch of work for free and then the person was supposed to reimburse me for things I bought on their behalf and the check they gave me bounced. Again, should have listened to the wisdom of my husband and saved me from myself and my foolish decisions. So why don’t I listen?
I think the problem lies mostly in how my husband decides to correct me. I want him to be nice and caring and sympathetic and well, he isn’t. In fact, sometimes he can be sort of mean about it. But maybe that’s because I don’t ever listen–even when he has been nice. I get defensive and angry and want to punch him in the neck. It’s so hard to be submissive sometimes. I think I know best. I can be quite prideful. “What does he know anyway? He doesn’t walk in my shoes.” Well no, he doesn’t, but somehow God gifted him anyway with a sense of direction I just don’t have.
Despite my sinful pride, I know our communication could be a lot better than it is. My fear of man also runs over into my marriage. I don’t want to approach him when he does something hurtful. Instead, I tend to just feel hurt and get bitter. I realized this the other day after we met for a biblical counseling session at church. Some things were said in the meeting and I just stared at him in disbelief, but tried to laugh it off like it didn’t bother me. It wasn’t the first time. Usually I get so hurt, my eyes well up with tears, but I just sit quietly and don’t say anything. And there have been times I finally tell my husband I was hurt and I say it in all the wrong ways and he then says, “I can’t believe how upset you are“. His response to my feelings usually end up with me feeling even more lonely and misunderstood, so I often times choose to keep my feelings to myself, but it really just ends up in resentment which is very hard to deal with in a marriage. So I put the things he says above what God says and I don’t confront him which is not biblical at all.
I’m still thinking it all over, but I know I need to face him in a loving way and let him know when he hurts me, when he’s sinning, and be more open and honest in our relationship. Submission is also hard, but I think the fear of man is really just something I struggle with a lot. I can’t put my own comfort above what God asks of me. In the past, I have felt like submitting has been this doormat sort of thing where my husband is going to boss me around and I don’t get a say into our lives together. I’m learning that as a helper, I do get to help him be more Christ-like and he leads me into being more like Christ too. It’s a mutual thing and I don’t have to be a fixture on a wall. We both get to honor God together. So when he does correct me, even if it isn’t perfect in how he does it, God is using that bring me back to the center so I can deal with sin. It sure doesn’t feel loving to be rebuked, but it really is. How can I grow when I don’t see the sin in my own heart? He uses my husband to do it. I just have to respond in humility and wisdom.
I’m learning a lot about myself lately and some of it is really hard. Sometimes I get angry because I don’t like obeying God and I want my own way. Sometimes I forget that God is full of grace and I play judge and jury to my own heart and declare myself “Guilty”. Sometimes I am extremely selfish and I don’t want to love others the way God has called me to. Fear of man is really pride too because I think I know best—that man is higher than God and that men are more threatening and powerful than God. Truth is, I preach to myself a gospel that isn’t true and I need God’s help to get me to see Him for who He really is and He uses my marriage (as well as other relationships and His word) to do just that. It is hard to remain humble, but I know God is faithful.
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
It’s my dad’s birthday today. There’s not much I remember about my dad. He was in my life one moment, and mysteriously out of my life the next. There are many times I think to myself, I wish I had known him better. With a mother who didn’t want to speak of him and extended family in another state, I had to discover who my dad was through the bits I knew about him from family, the little he showed me of himself, and the rest from other sources.
I knew he held several different types of jobs. He was an airline mechanic, and a cook before I came on the scene. He later was a taxi cab driver, owned his own mechanic shop and taxi service, and even delivered pizzas for money. He was a jack of all trades, as some would say. He had a way of being whatever was needed and somehow had the skill to do it.
He was an enigma to me. A man who was in the air force and in prison. A man who worked hard, yet would commit fraud. A man who wanted to be with his kids, but wanted his addictions more. A man who loved us, but would fly into drunken rages and rants. A man who would light up a room, but suffered from his own demons. What can a daughter think of such a father?
Long after my dad lost his battle with lung cancer in 1989 (I was 11), I decided I wanted to know something more about him than I did. I went to the historical society and looked up his prison records from the jail he had been at. I had at least known that much about him. In the records were detailed reports of his upbringing, his marriages, his struggle with addictions, his acts of heroism (he actually saved some people in a prison fire), and his plans for the future. All of this was from a few years before I was even born. All of these dreams he wanted for himself and I watched them all unravel into death and despair.
His last year and a half of his life is when he got sick and the moments I remember the most. It seemed on the day of his death, all of heaven had turned its face against us, leaving us fatherless and homeless and alone. No one wanted to talk about my dad. No one wanted to remember he existed and his death (I later learned) was hard to grasp as well. But all I knew was that I lost a dad–I didn’t know what he had done or how he failed. It didn’t even matter so much that he failed me as a dad, but now he was gone forever and no one wanted to acknowledge that.
But there are moments where I remember my dad with happiness. I remember sitting with him at a diner drinking hot cocoa with whipped cream (something I still do with my kids today). I remember him buying me roller skates. I remember his banana cream pies and recreations of prison and air force food, which I thought tasted awesome. I remember picking out a real Christmas tree with him. I remember stepping on a nail and although I hated it, he took me to get a tetanus shot (something my mom would have never done). I remember his passion for our welfare when it seemed as if no one else did. I remember him standing up for us, defending us, and putting his foot down. I remember him walking into a drug store and giving one of the workers a stern talking to after something they said to me that made me cry. He did this all while battling the same cancer that would take his life. I remember the last thing I said to him and the last hug he gave me. I remember him being my dad, despite all the failures and let-downs.
My Dad is buried in a national cemetery next to fighters, warriors, and people who fought and died for our country. His life was not always honorable. His legacy wasn’t one I always want to speak of to my children. When I go to his grave, no one knows what kind of man my dad was. They just think of him as serving our country. And for most, that is all they will ever know about him. It is a gift when a life of shame ends in honor.
Human fathers fail their children–some more than others. It’s taken me a long time to realize that God is not like my human father. When he loves, he truly loves. When he is generous, he is richly generous. When he promises to never leave me or forsake me, I can trust that He is here with me. Even in the hard stuff of my life, God has never, for one second, abandoned me for something else. This world is falling apart at the seams, but God is in control of all that falls apart, all that breaks, all that fails. I know He’s going to somehow undo all that is broken and make it right. Until then, these things are meant to help me grow less in love with a world that is falling apart and dying, and more in love with a God that will never leave me or forsake me.
No, I didn’t have a perfect father. I didn’t go to father/daughter dances. I didn’t get to enjoy a baseball game just me and my dad. My dad never saw me graduate, get married, have kids. He watched my life from afar while he was alive and now I ponder his from afar while I live and breath. And although my life has seen more death than I care to know, I know that nothing is meaningless in this life. And it makes me thankful for this man (my husband) who isn’t perfect either, but he loves our kids and makes memories with them all the time. If my dad taught me anything, it was that marriage and parenting take hard work and we should never take them for granted. These little moments of laughter, tears, pain, and joy–they will be remembered long after we are gone. It’s the little things in this life that make the biggest impression.
Humility is hard. I’m finding moments in my day where I spend way too much time talking to myself than to God. The things I say to myself aren’t very good either. Maybe this is what the Bible means when it says “Take every thought captive”. And when you “preach to yourself” a gospel that isn’t true (believe lies, trust in yourself instead of God, glorify sin, ect…) you are no longer a servant of Christ, but a man pleaser (see Galatians 1:6-10).
Our thinking is damaged. It’s influenced by our upbringing, what we have been taught, what we have accepted as truth, and what we treasure. It’s shaped by trials and circumstances and what we have decided to take from those things, good or bad. There are some who think all feelings are bad. There are some who think all feelings are right. Lately, when I have a feelings, I have to stop and think about what it is telling me. Our feelings are gauges into our hearts–what drives us, what we love the most.
I got an email today and almost instantly it made me sad. The email was about Karate and competitions and since I have a child with special needs, I often can’t get past the simple. “Compete? Yeah right.” is my usual reaction to things like that. I just can’t grasp the impossible. Along with that comes a whole bunch of sadness for how I want things to be. It is so easy to get discouraged when your kid struggles to simply do life. I was driving in the car and I quickly realized that I was sad about it, that the root of it was wanting to have comfort and a “normal life” with “normal kids”. I decided to pray and just pour out my sadness to God. No one else understands the trials I face with my children, the hopes and dreams that I feel have been squashed, and the constant comparisons I construct in my own mind. It’s a daily reminder that my plans are not God’s plans. What I want for my kids won’t look like what God wants. I’m not God, so this makes sense, but it’s hard when you see other kids her age doing things that she can’t do.
I never used to understand prayer. It seemed selfish to me. It seemed like God had his own agenda and what was the point of prayer? Lately, I realize that prayer changes my heart. It changes me. I’m not going to change God, mold him into what I want him to be, or move his hand. But when I do pour out my heart to God, I am saying “God, you rule my heart. These other things don’t. Let your will mold me in this situation.” So when I have prayed, I have seen God work. Before, I would just do my own thing and my eyes would be closed to what God was doing. Now they are opened and I see Him in every situation where I’ve humbled myself before Him and let Him rule my heart and mind. Today when I prayed, I found myself being flooded with the reminders of God’s goodness. “Yes, this is hard, but God you never leave me.” or “God my heart is sad, but I am so thankful your promises are true.” God has an outcome I just can’t see–and maybe I won’t this side of things. But until then, He brings peace to my life through His word that He’s given me.
And when feelings come, as they often do, I have to stop myself and ask God for clarity. How easy it is to lose sight of what God is doing. And I am learning to put my own agenda aside and pray for God’s to be clear. That takes putting away pride (thinking I can handle it) and bowing in reverence to the One who knows all things and can do all things. And as hard as humility is, not submitting is harder. Pride is spiritual suicide, but humility brings life–even in the midst of the hard things of this life. God never promised this life would be easy, but He did promise we’d never have to walk alone.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Last night I read a Desiring God article about Greed entitled “All I Have Is Christ“. I started reading it and became intrigued. I liked how it was written and I learned something about myself. But at the end of the article was a blurb about a new book called “KillJoys: The Seven Deadly Sins“. My joy has been squashed lately, so I thought I’d read a chapter and lucky me! It was available as a free download!
I ended up not reading the first 20 or so pages, but landed on the chapter on Pride by Jason Meyer. The chapter was so convicting to me. I never thought of myself as extremely prideful. In fact, I tend to think I am humble because I don’t elevate my worth in any way. I tend to degrade myself most days. So I was shocked to find out that even that is pride!
So, in a nutshell, this chapter talked about how there are really two ways in which pride tends to rear it’s head. It shows up in the building up of self and in the tearing down of self. I will talk about that in a minute, but first, I think defining pride is a good thing. So what is pride? Here are some notes I jotted down from the book:
Pride elevates the sinner above God (where other sins tend to lead the sinner away from God)
Pride is self-fixation
Pride is spiritual suicide
God opposes the proud
To kill pride, we must learn humility
What is Humility?
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5)
Humility pitches its tent “under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5:5)
We can be humble, when we “cast all our cares on Him” (1 Peter 5:6
Humility puts our eyes on Christ – “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” 2 Chronicles 20:12
Humility is not obsessed with putting ourselves down
Humility is a form of self-forgetfulness
Back to the issue of pride: Here is the breakdown of Building Up and Tearing Down that I mentioned earlier.
Building Up: Self-Exaltation, Self-Promotion, Self-Justification
Building up of self happens when we succeed
Self-exaltation is taking credit for the good in our lives
Self-Promotion is an extention of Self-Exaltation because it puts those good things forward so that others will give us credit for them (people pleasing)
Self-Justification takes credit for being in the right. This causes us to blame others for being the wrong. It is an acute awareness of others failures. It is treating others with contempt. (i.e. self-righteousness)
Tearing down happens when we don’t succeed and others do
Self-degradation tears down the self
Self-demotion publicly shows that we perform worse than others, have it worse than others, or we have less than others. It can be a disguise for self-promotion because it fishes for affirmationand reassurance which we think we deserve. It is a funeral for our ego.
Self-condemnation passes judgment on ourselves when we don’t measure up to our own standards. It is self-preoccupation.
The chapters further explains 3 ways in how we, as Christians, can kill pride:
Conversion. Seeing the cross with new eyes defeats pride. Why? Those who see the cross rightly also see themselves rightly.
Sanctification. We are transformed from one degree to the next by “beholding the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). It is a struggle to see rightly. We need to see how great our need is and how great His grace really is.
Glorification. All must be torn down so God alone can be left standing. On that final day, we will see Christ as either a terror or a treasure.
The bottom line: We cannot think of ourselves less until we think of something else more. That something else is Jesus.
Pride is the biggest sin we are all guilty of. In my life, I waiver between being self-righteous and being self-preoccupied. Social Media doesn’t help either: Selfies, status updates, updating twitter feeds, and generally being preoccupied to death with our own self. Even if we don’t use social media, we tend to think we are better than others for our sacrifice of computer time, our devotion to God, and then we judge others for using social media! We are obsessed with ourselves.
Lately I have been pre-occupied with how much sin I have in my life, how I will never be the person God wants me to be, and generally just degrading who I am in Christ. This chapter helped me to see things better–that when I’m beating myself up over past sins, I am taking God’s place. I am saying “I am God and you are not” and I’m trusting in my own judgments. I am saying, “God you can’t handle my sins”. And when you put it like that, wow, that’s so arrogant! So I am thankful today for God helping me see through my own heart so I can know His. He can take something as ugly as pride and He can kill it.
It’s hard not to think of God as I think of people. It seems as if every relationship I’ve ever had has been a dysfunctional one. Even marriage is dysfunctional because I’m dysfunctional. We are broken people trying to fix other broken people. So it’s not hard to see where sometimes I, as a person who is broken and has had to deal with other’s brokenness, can sometimes think God himself is going to deal with me in a broken way.
I had a situation come up where I was told a few things about my character that I knew wasn’t true. This person had one good point which was that I had a bad attitude, but the rest was wrong. She told me in the wrong setting, in the wrong way, and with the wrong motives. When we tried to settle the matter, she said a few more things about it that I felt were really unfair. While she was talking about these things, I thought to myself, “I don’t need to defend. God is my defense. It doesn’t matter what she thinks of me. It only matters what God thinks and I know I am not what she says I am.” So I let her think what she wanted about me and carried on with my existence.
I was struggling today with forgiving. In general, I struggle to forgive. People haven’t been supportive of me, nor have they loved me through thick and thin. People have tossed me aside on whim. My “bad attitude” would be grounds for dismissal for most people. I do complain. I have a negative outlook (hard not to some days when you have deep losses such as I have had or failed relationships as I have gone through–not an excuse, but it’s a battle). Do people really think I like being me? Because I don’t most days. I wish I was a perfect version of myself, but I can’t change me by myself. There lies the mystery some days for me: How do I change when I can’t change myself? People act as if I can wave a magic wands and poof! I sin no more. That’s where I start to look inward and become depressed. Because the thing everyone wants me to be, I can’t be right now…not until God works on my heart and changes me. It starts to feel a bit suffocating at times, especially when people are so quick to judge you without getting to know you. And I have to put my focus back on Christ, not people or how they make me feel.
I sat in the arm chair next to the sunny window. I read a devotional which spoke about the heart and actions coming from our hearts–Until we deal with our hearts, our actions won’t change. I leaned my head against the chair, letting the sun into my eyes. I prayed, asking for God’s forgiveness and for Him to change me. I gave him my pain that was hidden in my heart–the hurt of the words that were said; the sting of not being accepted or understood by people; the agony of feeling so alone in this universe. The tears came and went as I felt the wave of forgiveness come over me. I prayed one last sentiment, “God thank you that you correct me in gentleness and you don’t deal with me like people do.” After my prayer, I checked my email. There was one from the Pastor at my church with this song in it:
I’ve seen the lightning flashing,
I’ve heard the thunder roll.
I’ve felt sin’s breakers dashing,
which almost conquered my soul.
I’ve heard the voice of my Savior,
bidding me still to fight on.
He promised never to leave me,
never to leave me alone!
No, never alone, no never alone, He promised never to leave me, He’ll claim me for His own; No, never alone, no never alone. He promised never to leave me, Never to leave me alone.
The world’s fierce winds are blowing,
temptation sharp and keen.
I have a peace in knowing
my Savior stands between—
He stands to shield me from danger
when my friends are all gone.
He promised never to leave me,
never to leave me alone!
When in affliction’s valley
I tread the road of care,
My Savior helps me carry the cross
so heavy to bear;
Though all around me is darkness,
earthly joys all flown;
My Savior whispers His promise,
never to leave me alone!
He died on Calvary’s mountain,
for me they pierced His side.
For me He opened that fountain,
the crimson, cleansing tide.
For me He waiteth in glory,
seated upon His throne.
He promised never to leave me,
never to leave me alone!
After the week I had with sick kids, harsh judgments, broken dryers, laundry to the ceiling, stress headaches, and all the rest–I could rest in the fact that my Savior knows me, loves me, and understands me. He never corrects me unlovingly. His heart is always for me. His words are always timely. And He never leaves me alone…
There are some who continue to walk with me, who try to know me, who love me through my ugliness. It’s because of those people that I am here and that I continue to be encouraged to look to the cross.
I have always struggled with beauty. I think most woman would admit this. When I was a kid, I was compared to my sister a lot and many times, people compared our looks. One was prettier. One was thinner. One had longer hair. One had bigger eyes. One had bigger feet. The comparisons never ended. To this day, I still get compared to my sister. It goes with the territory when you are a twin or triplet.
I’m 37. I’ve spent the last 30 some years of my life trying to be pretty, accepted, loved, and cared for. The problem is, I have thought being beautiful was the thing that was most important and the thing that would get me what I wanted (love, acceptance, ect). It’s a vicious cycle really. Vanity says I will be loved if I am pretty and have something of beauty to offer someone else. Love says I accept you and love you no matter what. Vanity says your worth is tied up in your beauty (or lack of it). Love says you are worthy because God made you and loved you as you are. Nothing you do can make you worth more in His eyes.
But it’s a difficult thing for other people to accept when you don’t chase beauty, especially other women. They cringe at the thought of you not spending time on your looks. I have seen 80 year olds who still dye their hair. They want to look young. They want to still be considered beautiful. There is something very wrong, in the eyes of our society, with a woman who isn’t thin, trimmed, dyed, clipped, waxed, and fashionable.
I decided a few weeks ago that I wasn’t going to dye my hair anymore. I have had this thought many times over the years and every time, I feel like vanity gets the best of me. When I tell people I don’t want to dye my hair anymore, they tell me I’m too young for grays (this is silly–I obviously get them, so I’m not too young). They think I’m letting my looks go. They think I am being ridiculous.
You want to know what is ridiculous? Being a slave. This is slavery, in my humble opinion:
Every day looking at my hair seeing if a gray is popping through, then plucking it if it is
Counting down the days and weeks to when I need to rush in and get my hair done again
Getting upset over faded dye jobs because the grays have popped through after 3 weeks and then feeling “less than” because I have a few grays
Feeling bad about myself because I let my hair go “too long” without dying it and now it looks awful (faded dye looks worse to me than gray hairs)
Spending $100 or more to get my hair dyed every other month
Spending 2 or 3 hours of my day soaking up chemicals into my scalp and down my sink (polluting everything including my own health)
Having my hair fall out and look dull from so much dye
Never being satisfied, never happy because it fades after 2 weeks
Having my moods go up and down with my hair color
That, my friend, is utterly ridiculous. As is caring what other people think of me and defining my worth from the color that goes on my head.
So I am choosing to not dye my hair. I am trying to be confident in this decision. It’s not easy. There is a phase where you grow out all the dyed hair, cut it off bit by bit each month, and also letting the grays grow long (so at first they look stupid springing up all over your head). I’ve tried to do this before and got sick of it and went back to dying it. But this time, I’m giving it more time. Who knows. Maybe I will end up dying it again, but for now my mind is made up to be free of the madness of vanity (at least in the hair department).
Grays, roots, and dye job that needs to grow out
I am learning to love who God made me. I am not “letting myself go”. I still believe in hair cuts, lip waxes, and taking care of myself. I talked with my husband about it too and he laughed and said, “I don’t think it will look as bad as everyone thinks it does” which means “I will still love you–grays and all”. That’s really all the motivation I needed.
I will share more later. If you see me donning a head scarf, you’ll know why!
On Facebook yesterday, I wrote “You deplete me“. It was a joke, but the way I’ve felt lately with people–my kids, my marriage, friendships, and trying to relate to others. Whenever I try to look to someone to fulfill a need, I am met with exhaustion and soul-sucking disappointment. People cannot fill any void or complete anything. We are very much incomplete and incapable of being a savior to anyone, let alone ourselves. Could this “incompleteness” be a good thing?
Awhile back, I was putting together a puzzle. I had the border all done and some of the inside pieces, but I noticed the puzzle was taking me a really long time to put together. The piece I held in my hand was similar to most of the other parts of the puzzle. I’d try it in one section of the puzzle which I thought was where it went, but it didn’t. Then I tried to put it in another section with similar colors and again, it didn’t fit. It was a difficult piece and I finally just lost my patience and gave up on that puzzle. All of the pieces looked pretty similar, but they all went in hard-to-find locations.
I feel like most of my life has been like that puzzle. Growing up, it would make sense that being a triplet I would “fit” in, but most of the time, I never felt as if I did, even with the common bond of siblings who were born the same day. I didn’t feel like I fit in at school because I was introverted and shy. I didn’t want to be around my parents as they were always fighting, which often resulted in my dad leaving. As I got older, I didn’t fit in high school either. I tried to keep my head down through all of it, hoping I could just go by unnoticed and unscathed. Like the puzzle piece, I kept trying to “fit in” but the places were always wrong. Or I was wrong. Either way, it never seemed to flow.
Over the years, I’ve tried to develop friendships with people, but that too has been awkward at best. I have little problems making friends, but keeping them is another story. I just rub people the wrong way. I think people are attracted to my honesty, until I use it on them and then they want me to shut up. And honestly, I lack patience and can be judgmental in my friendships so I have driven more than a few people away because of it. Because of this, I tend to fear rejection which causes me to become more introverted. Sometimes I wonder if I’m meant to be in the puzzle at all.
Over the years, people have accused me of having faith in God with being brain washed or somehow buying into what “they” say because “they” accept me. “They” being other Christians. It’s completely laughable as an argument. People, including Christians, don’t accept me generally. They tolerate me. And having faith does not make me more popular. If anything, it has made me a lot less popular; dare I say, hated. Even in Christian circles, I question things and rock the boat and I’m not generally agreeable except on foundational stuff. I’ve had my fair share of debates over marriage, women, and child raising–to name a few issues. And most of the time, I still feel like the puzzle piece that can’t find its’ home.
Maybe that is on purpose though. I’m not suggesting we make ourselves feel bad or get our kicks off being victims, but what if I have it backwards? What if that ache and loneliness is meant to be there? What if all the failed relationships and the times I’ve strived to be liked (only to be met with utter disappointment) is really God trying to tell me that I can’t? What if all the love I try to seek from my marriage, kids, and friendships that end in disappointment was meant to be there? Maybe things end–people die, friendships fail, jobs are lost, things are broken–because God meant for them to be.
Why would God do that? Why would God bring pain like that? Why would God make us ache for love and for understanding? Why would He want us to be empty? Why would he want us to feel as if our hearts would burst with loneliness? The simple answer: We can only find what our hearts ache for by submitting and trusting in Him. I don’t think God is a sadist, enjoying our pain. I think it hurts Him when we don’t look to Him because He knows that we will only ever know true happiness when we stop looking everywhere else and look to him. Who can fill our empty hearts? Who is our friend until the very end? Who brings us peace in our suffering? Who remembers our tears, every one of them? Who mourns over our sins and rejoices when we find truth? Who has our best at heart? Who knows every detail about us, yet loves us as if we have never done wrong? Who could be that, do that, and love like that? Jesus. It is only when we find Him and learn to look to Him for everything that we find our place–we become a puzzle piece that fits. No, we won’t fit in on this earth–and I think that is intentional. God thought it better that we make our homes with Him to be fully loved, fully cared for, and fully understood. Who else could do that but the God of the universe?
1 John 2:14-17 (NIV)
I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
I stared for a bit at the flying snow today. It would be easy to complain about the cold and snow, but for some reason today I admired the white, fluffy, floating flakes that seemed to be hurrying here and there across the sky. I thought about how when I was a kid, I always wanted to hold a snowflake, but then it would disappear in my hand the moment it touched my skin. It never stopped me from trying though. I would catch one, it would melt, I’d giggle and run off to find another one. Sometimes I wanted to know how it worked–how did those flakes seem to fly across the sky and why did they melt when they touched my face and where did they come from? Such mysteries seem silly now, but as I was thinking about them, God reminded me to stay child-like when it came to who He is too.
We try so hard to understand God–or at least I do. I try to grab hold of him. I think I got him. And then the thing I thought I knew about him is wrong. He melts in my hand as if to say, “You cannot hold me in your hand”. He is God. He is infinite – I cannot measure him, compare him to anything else, or understand his magnitude. He is a omnipotent – able to do more than I ever ask or think to ask, powerful beyond the scope of my own abilities and what I could ever imagine. He is omniscient – He knows everything about my life and the lives of everyone in the universe, as well as knowing what has happened and what will happen in the future. No detail is too small for God and no circumstance is too hard for Him. He is patient and loving – He loves this sinner not because of what I’ve done, but because of who He is. His attributes go on and on. We think we know him, but we know so very little. We get to see glimpses of him as we try to reach out our hand to hold him, but we never can fully grasp everything He is. That is what makes God, “God”.
When I think about how God loves me, I can’t help but be thankful. Lately, I have felt saddened by things in my life–things I have to see about myself and things I have been hurt by from others. I look around at all the hurting people and I wish there was some way for me to make their lives better. I spend so much time thinking about myself and trying to make this or that better, but lately I’ve had to stop chasing so many vain things. It’s all meaningless and fleeting. Sometimes when you stop filling the void with “things”, it is painful. You have to face the person you are and be humble. You have to let go of what you think is right and ask him to give you wisdom. And trust has never been my strong suit.
So you let go and see what happens. I know God is just and takes sin seriously, but I also know that God corrects his children in love. And when He corrects, it’s less painful than when I beat myself up or allow others to beat me up with their words. It’s a constant reminding of who God is and a constant refocus of where my eyes should be–on Him. Without the cross, his punishment would be death. Because of the cross, His corrections bring life.
I’m going to keep chasing after God like a child because that’s exactly where He wants me: reaching for Him, delighting in the search, and wanting more. Yes, sometimes it’s painful and sometimes it’s messy, but I’m learning all these things were hand chosen by the One who made me. It’s as unique as a snowflake–hand picked circumstances that lead me closer to Him. I’m learning to complain and be irritated less with life’s up and downs (I will spend my whole life learning this lesson, I think) and be at peace with His plan.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
If all the world’s a stage
And my part is in this mysterious script
Where I see some of the lines,
But others remain hidden
Until just the right time
When the Creator decides to reveal
The finer details to His chosen;
Then I beg you–
Help me remember
Teach me the words
Ingrain in me my part
Do not let me wander
Give me practice
So I keep them in my mind
And on my heart
And upon my lips
Let these be my life
Until I boldly play the role
You created just for me
When in the beginning
You planned this performance
To honor your Great name.