I have been thinking so much lately, I could sit here all day and come up with things to write about. Things that I have heard/seen/read/experienced lately that amuse me, thrill me, shock me. When I look back on my day, I find that I have experienced all of those feelings independently in something said at church today, in the wonderful talks I had with many special women this morning, watching jr high kids play games, or just spending time with my nephew. Some of these events may have even combined a couple of these feelings, but none more so than one I experienced today.
I am an emotional person. I like to think I am also a somewhat logical person. It makes sense that I went for a degree in Psychology. I also like to pride myself in the thought that I often know the right things to say in many emotional situations. Logically anyway. You know what I mean, the “it will all work out in the end.” “Pain and suffering are necessary for growth.” “When you look back you will see how this was for the best.” The stuff we all say because we know it’s true. The stuff that no matter how many times you hear it when you are in pain, you usually just have a hard time accepting. The stuff that we take for granted when we aren’t or haven’t really suffered.
Being a Christian most of my life, I have heard lots of messages, heard lots of songs, read lots of books. I have heard those same things said in prayer, in worship, in small group. Heard declarations of how your life will be changed once you surrender. How much God yearns for our hearts, how he frees us from guilt, shame, & sin’s hold of our lives. But until you truly suffer, all of those sentiments have little meaning. I know my suffering is so minuscule compared to the suffering of so many others, but I am suffering nonetheless and that is the place God wants me to be right now. It got me thinking about how many other things I had always heard & known will start to take on new meaning now that I can practically apply them to my life and situation.
Part of my promise to God in my surrendering of the first particular part of my life is that anytime I start to feel bad about that issue, dwell on it, or start to let it take my focus I want to shift my focus onto Christ. To turn to a time of thankfulness for what He has done for me or a request to change my heart and give me a new focus. I am doing ok at this task, but I learned something today I should have realized: old habits die hard. And in this particular case, I have a lot of bad habits. I let way too many facets of this issue rule my life. I know I am being intentionally vague and that might make some of this confusing, but I’m just not ready to admit my behavior to everyone and certainly not on the internet. Don’t worry, they aren’t bad, just a representation of how off my focus has been for so much of my life. And I slip right back to these behaviors over and over. Some includes giving other people’s opinions of me way too much weight. I am learning that I allow that to dictate too many of my actions (or lack of action).
In an effort to spiritually challenge myself and those in my small group, I have been researching some stuff we can study. Being that I just finished Francis Chan’s book “Crazy Love,” I thought that might be a good place to start. I have been watching some of his chapter videos and he challenges groups to do something that has been on my mind a lot lately. He challenges them to reflect on the cross at some point of your every day. He also asks that we be accountable to remind each other of this action. I couldn’t help but stop at that request and consider how little I do that ever and what kind of change that would require in my everyday life. Of course throughout the day I would ask things of God or say thanks for the things He has blessed me with. But to literally stop all the chaos or the leisure everyday and consider the price He paid or the true gift we have received, that would be a huge task.
Any believer has had to make choices between doing what is right or doing what we want. Between showing Christ’s love no matter what the situation or giving a rude person the verbal back hand they deserve. Between flipping someone off for cutting you off or being patient and letting the anger pass. There are so many instances in our lives where we are caught between what we (and usually society) think we should do and what Christ told us we should do. I don’t know about you, but much of my day is filled with selfishness, anger, rudeness, laziness, etc. Think of how much that would change or diminish if I spent some part of every day considering the cross. The problem: I don’t always want those things to change. I like to cuss sometimes (hey, sometimes it’s really funny), I am proud when I can lay a verbal smack down on someone who is pissing me off, I like a lot of things about the world’s view. It fun and alluring. But it’s also temporary and destructive. So the real problem: how to maintain my identity while searching intentionally for Christ. I’m not sure the two can co-exist. Yes I will always be me. I will always do some of the same destructive, selfish things. But a choice does have to be made, allow God to change me or stay lost wandering.
I have to admit I think I have felt God reaching out to me for a while, giving me the chance to let go and follow him with abandon. But I have just been too caught up with how much work or painful the transition would be. Well like always in God’s perfect timing He has taught me I couldn’t run from either. Pain found me and I’m having to work like crazy to survive it. But He’s also teaching me that while I’m changing, the way I feel about things is changing too. The thought of seeking after God daily used to seem somewhat boring and taxing. Now it seems exciting and fulfilling.
Still wondering what that event I experienced today that was able to amuse, thrill, & shock me? Today IT JUST CLICKED for me. I finally get it! It was finally just getting all those things I have heard my whole life. It was finally feeling with my heart what my logic has said all along. I have always doubted how God could fulfill the desires of my heart (to fall in love) without sending a man for me to fall in love with. Today I realized it’s because I have to fall in love with Him first. I always wondered how to overcome my feelings of inadequacy, today he taught me it was to daily remember He is why I am special. I always wondered how I could stand to put Him as my focus and today He showed me it’s because in His presence I just feel love, acceptance, right. Suddenly guilt, for my actions and the actions of others, no longer maintains the forefront of my mind. Suddenly, the fears for my future seem silly and unnecessary. Suddenly I actually feel what I have always said I believed, that I trust God’s promises. I trust that the desires He places in my heart will be fulfilled, by Him and Him alone.
Today I got a chance to share some of what I have been going through with some people at church. It was exciting to tell them of what I have experienced and the difference Christ has made in my life just in the last few days. I literally feel like a different person. I feel the change God is making in my heart. I’m still broken and human, I still want the same things and feel the same burn of fear and shame. But the way I look at those feelings hold on my life is changing dramatically. Every day I feel less and less ruled by my foolish dreams for myself. Yes they are special because they are mine, but they are so insignificant in comparison to what God has planned for me. I suddenly feel excited about God manning the wheel in my life (still scared though…*sigh*), because that means I am experiencing the life He planned for me. The plan He made for my small, insignificant life that moment He shed His blood for me. Is there anything greater??
I found that today, day 2 of surrendering almost seemed too easy. I have felt sad & tired but yet strangely peaceful. Don’t get me wrong, that’s what I have been praying for all this time and definitely what God promises, I just honestly thought it would be a lot harder so far. I am extremely grateful, but weary of what is to come next. Yes God is changing me every moment, but there’s a lot of me still there. My prayers right now are about how to continue to change my focus on the part of my life I have surrendered and what part He wants next. Hope God is pursuing your heart as hard as he is mine.