They Will Be Known for Their Love

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!!

Advertisements

Man’s Fear

Men and women are so different (I hear Professor Snape’s voice in my head saying… “Obviously…”).  Our fears are even so uniquely different….

Men seem to fear these two things the most:

1) Being ruled over by a woman.  Instinctively, we know this.  No man wants a woman who controls or forces him to do whatever she wants – how unfeminine!

I’m not talking about being a “needy female,” that is also a turn-off to most men.

In our day and age, it is possible to be the strong, independent, working woman and still have a certain need for your man, to be feminine and desire his masculine strength, yet have your own inner resolve and strength as well.  He wants you to need him.  A woman that’s too independent projects a man-crushing aura instead.  He doesn’t want some superwoman who has utterly no need for his presence or help.

2) Not being enough, or the “anxiety of being found inadequate.”  I think one of a man’s deepest need is to be with someone who makes him realize all that he is, someone who makes him feel like a man.  Everyone has flaws, and I’m not talking about pretending someone doesn’t have any at all, but I heard a great (albeit strange) piece of advice when I was younger about men:

Don’t forget his flaws, just embrace him,

and like a deeply treasured & admired vase, turn him to the side of his best view

(look and display his best side).

Nothing is more of a turn-off than a woman who makes her husband feel less than.  Admire your husband’s masculine traits… if he works hard, supports his family, or takes care of his parents – he is a treasure & stepping up to the challenge of true masculinity – offering his world and his family his much needed strength.

 

FEAR.

To me, fear is one of the worst emotions a person can let get ahold of them.  And I don’t mean that it is wrong to feel afraid, there is a difference between feeling afraid and actually letting fear control your mind and actions.  It is not even the same as experiencing anxiety & its symptoms, although it can be mistaken as that.  Anxiety usually paralyzes you, or makes you “faint” in or with fear.  The kind of fear I’m talking about right now, is fear that motivates a person to act, taking over your mind and pushing aside logic, causing one to make decisions that to others, make literally no sense.

Letting fear control you, destroys you from the inside out.  If you’re a Christian, you probably understand this already as its mentioned so often (365 times I believe) in the Bible.

Fear doesn’t always look the way you’d expect it to look.  I’ve seen people who are afraid, that unless you knew psychology & the way the inner-mind and motivations work, you’d think they were doing fine – brave even – since they were still in action.  But the Truth is in a person’s actions, you can tell when someone is afraid of being replaced, threatenend in their position, afraid of being found out, all by the basic way they act. 

It is extremely sad to watch someone who was once so loving, supportive and “normal” turn into someone who feels threatened at every turn, threatened by someone who might seem better than them, threatened by different opinions, and never at peace for long, if at all, they have to remain in control.  I’ve seen a person try to destroy those who were most loyal to them, because of a deep-seated fear that they were smarter, or better in some way. 

There was once an ancient king who lived at time when Jerusalem was ruled by Rome.  This king, who even endeavored to kill the Jews’ Messiah and “correct” the prophecy, killed his wife and 3 of his sons all in fear of basic disloyalty, fear of losing his throne.  King Henry VIII, driven by the fear of not having his own male successor, also gave in to maddening fear that caused him to kill the women he loved & married, a succession of them!  Fear of loss of control can cause you to hurt the ones you love the most – the ones who care for you the most.

The effects of a life run by fear are devastating – watching & learning these lessons have forever changed the way I think and act.

Just some food for thought, on an early Monday morning. 😉

Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
    I gave Ethiopia[a] and Seba in your place.
Others were given in exchange for you.
    I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
    You are honored, and I love you.”    Isaiah 43:1b-4

God has made my life a testimony to this passage. 

Every word is true.