The past few months, maybe even this past year, has been quite a journey for me spiritually. I’ve been convicted, in August/September of this year, of not focusing on what God wanted me to focus on, of continually getting too easily distracted, or using the time God’s given me unwisely or at the very least, not maximizing its potential to do what I should be doing for Him. Since that time, I’ve implemented many changes in my life. It’s been such an amazing, beautiful journey.
And since I was starting a basic journal, almost a daily diary of sorts, to track my emotions/moods as I knew I was grieving a loss and wanted it not to unknowingly affect me, I now have pages and pages of lessons learned, prayers prayed, scriptures and sermon notes, spiritual growth moments, and acknowledgments of gratitude almost every night. I recently looked back in my prayers from a couple of months ago, and found that I had asked God if He would teach me how to appropriately respond to people who insult, provoke, or mock my words, or my ministry.
And when I read that prayer, I realized with joy that He’s answered me in this! Our God is such a faithful God.
Yesterday, at my sweet, wonderful, I-can’t-say-enough-great-things-about-them women’s Bible study, we were discussing how our failures to be all God wants us to be can either define us, and hinder our growth, or be used to refine us, and develop us into better Christians.
By taking me through this journey this past year, even in my failings and shortcomings, my own lack of discernment in responding to sinful or evil people in ways that weren’t helpful, God’s been using my weaknesses to refine me. It’s amazing to have a physical journal with all of the notes in it that follow this growth path to grace and more wisdom.
I worried too much about what other people thought, when they misunderstood my motives or even accused me of having terrible motives that I knew were not true, I wanted to correct them and show them they weren’t acting godly. I hated seeing injustice continue, with no one being brave or godly enough to call it out. I didn’t trust or understand that God didn’t want me being worried about all these things. That even focusing my attention on them was derailing my purpose and not doing what God wants, it wasn’t submitting to God. Caring too much about the verdict of what others thought about my ministry, or me, or my life became way too high a priority, above pursuing God and what HE wanted for me.
But He used ALL these things, my failures in responding correctly, my seeing people I trusted use and twist my words I said to them, my seeing people actually lie about what I said to fit their agenda – my trying and failing to intervene on my own behalf – all this was useless, and yet useful in teaching me the goal of His lesson.
To not be afraid. To trust in Him.
When it was all too much, and I prayed that He would just make it stop, He clearly spoke to me in my spirit saying
“My grace is sufficient for you, even in this.”
There are some trials that He will not immediately deliver us from because He has a very specific lesson for us to learn in them, and so sometimes he keeps us in a position that’s painful, or leaves a thorn in our side, so that we can be refined in the pain of it.
I realized I was reacting in Fear. Fear of not being approved of by everyone. Fear of being written about negatively and having other people turn away from me. Fear of being mocked or insulted and having others influence or ruin my reputation.
I’m not defined by how I responded poorly at times, instead, He’s used it to teach me better ways – His own ways. I’m excited in that I’ve now had opportunities to put these new ways into practice, making Him pleased with how I’m choosing to respond now. It’s making me into a more graceful, fearless woman.
It’s making me into a more peaceful woman – I didn’t realize that all my striving to defend my own reputation, or correct misunderstandings, or confront mockers, or go to others to get them to see my “side” wasn’t pursuing peace. I thought I WAS pursuing peace in trying to make everything better, trying to influence women who mock to be better themselves. I didn’t realize that this wasn’t done using God’s power, and that it only negatively influenced my own spirit.
What makes a woman truly beautiful?
God wants women to have a gentle, peaceful, fearless spirit. Or in His own Word, 1 Peter 3:1-6
“A peaceful gentle spirit… that does not give way to fear.”
When I choose to respond slowly, with godly wisdom and assurance, when I first go to Him and ask Him “How should I respond to this, if at all God?” I please my Father in Heaven with submitting to Him.
Submitting to Him is acknowledging that He is in control. I am not. And when I try to control all these outcomes, I’m sending Him the message that I don’t want to obey Him, that I don’t trust Him to do what’s right, that I don’t think He’s enough. I had NO idea I was disrespecting God Himself like this, but it truly has been quite a journey.
I’ll post again on some more things I’ve learned over this year, thank you for reading!!