July 8, 2010

A Breakthrough Today

Yesterday, I had coffee in the morning with my friend (who has come along side of me during the last ten or so months of my marriage crisis). She is a treasure to me, always praying for me, being a ready listener, and always acting as such a gracious woman of God. I am so blessed that God brought me someone just like her -- she has been a perfect fit for me -- and I cannot thank Him enough for her willingness to do this for me.

Afterwards, I went to chamber practice. I wasn't really looking forward to it because my cello has been playing poorly, and I thought I would blow it for everyone else. However, it turned into a great afternoon, so much fun, and lots of good progress. We are starting to play like a group, and I love the ensemble.

Later in the afternoon, I spent about an hour with a dear counselor friend from church. I have been meeting with her off/on over the course of the past nine months. She has given me wise Biblical counsel, and been a good listener too. She is my blackboard, the person I bounce things off. She also is what I consider my plumb line. My good friend who I meet with each week is my steady companion, the friend who encourages me and comforts me. This woman is my rock. She is the "no, that is not correct" person who will guide me when I am off the mark. She is strong and doesn't mince words. I respect her greatly because she is true to her word. Her mark is consistency and strength -- I admire her for her courage and dedication to her ministry.

After I left her office, I came home and picked up my son. We went over to my folks to swim, but ended up watching two episodes of "Mythbusters," my son's favorite show. These were episodes on 102 ways to use Duct Tape. I have to say that my son loves duct tape and actually asked me for a roll at Christmas. He loves the stuff, and always tells me what he thinks he can do with it. After dinner (at Panda Express), he wanted to go to Home Depot to get some duct tape. I took him there, bought him two rolls, and came home. He then proceeded to create a wallet and a mini boat (for his lego people). Did I mention that he is 16 going on 17?

I fell asleep on the bed at about 8 p.m. and slept right through the night. I don't know why, but I was exhausted. I asked the Lord (sometime in between wakefulness and that point where you lose consciousness, "Why am I so tired?" His reply, "You need to rest. I need you to be refreshed tomorrow.") I woke up this morning, fed the cats (like a zombie -- I don't even recall doing it), and then went back to bed. At 8:30 a.m. I rolled out of bed. This is uncharacteristic of me -- as I have been getting up at 5-5:30 now since baby Ike (my kitten) arrived four weeks ago. I normally go to bed at 11:00, once my son does, and that gives me about 6 hours of sleep. I tend to like 9 hours (well, I used to), but have gotten used to sleeping with a lot less. Anyway, unknown to me, I needed a full 12 hours of sleep last night, and I did indeed wake up refreshed.

I am just about to head out the door to my cello lesson, but I wanted to write down a couple quick thoughts. First of all, I have had a breakthrough of sorts on the personal understanding front. Over the course of the past few weeks, I have really struggled to understand why things are not happening as I think they should (as I think the Lord has revealed them to me). Also, I have had issues with money (always), and this has caused another level of concern (how much longer will I go without a job?)

As I spent the better part of an hour with my counselor friend, this truth resonated from me: my deepest issue has been trust. I have not been able to trust people throughout the course of my life. Beginning with men and boys who took advantage of me, to later friends who betrayed confidences, and then to my present circumstance in marriage. This lack of trust has made it impossible for me to form deep and lasting frienships. I have had acquaintances only, but very few real friends. Moreover, I have been unable to depend on the Lord because I couldn't trust Him. I have come round full circle to where now the only one I trust is my Lord and Savior. Furthermore, in my inability to trust others, I have come to rely heavily on certain people, my parents mostly. In doing this, I have been unable to stand on my own two feet. I have been ill-equipped to be my own person.

The long and short of it is this: I understand now the ulterior motive that has kept me where I am and prevented me from moving on. My lack of trust in the Lord's provision, and my unwillingness to look to Him instead of my own hand, has caused me to get stuck in a rut, to stay put, and not be open to consider any option other than the one right in front of my eyes. I know it seems strange to not trust God, especially for someone who has professed Christ for over 30 years; but, I can tell you that on the surface I appeared to trust Him. It was more obvious when you probed down a bit further; and, last year when I suffered through a severe personal crisis, it became overwhelmingly apparent.

The last ten months of my life have provided so much information to me, information about me, about my attitude and motivation, and about some areas of my heart that were in need of complete healing and restoration. I cannot really explain what I have come through or how it all has happened. But, suffice it to say, I have been changed from the inside out, and the person I am today is far more open and honest about her flaws, her failings, and her fundamental inadequacies than at any time before. I am willing to be openly humble, to accept criticism, and to also take blame (and responsibility, it's twin). I know the mistakes I have made, but I no longer live in fear, in regret or in shame of them. They are what they are, part and parcel with my life experience. I am far more concerned now about my future, and how I am to live it in light of Scripture, than I am about the past and how it dominated and controlled me for so long.

As a new creature in Christ, I am taking my liberty, and am living it to the fullest. I am to walk circumspectly now, carefully, considering the days, and how they are evil. I am also far more interested in being compassionate and caring towards others, and far less focused on my needs. Though all I have blogged about is my needs, the truth of the matter, is that my attitude about my needs has shifted. Prior to last year, my needs fell this way: I was unhappy -- someone was to blame; I was sad -- someone hurt my feelings; I was without -- someone was with holding what I needed. Do you see the pattern? My needs were always the result of SOMEONE ELSE'S failure to meet them. They were never about reality (economy is tough, jobs are scarce) or responsible living (shouldn't have overspent or bought what was not affordable). They were also not my fault. I wasn't responsible for meeting my own needs because I was always off looking for someone else to do it. And, the funny thing is that while I was off meeting everyone else's needs, no one was looking to meet mine. I spent all my time doing for others, and neglecting my own needs in the balance. Had I simply stopped doing everything for everyone else, and paid a bit more attention to myself (doing for myself), I would have felt less put upon, less put out of joint, and less dependent on other people. In essence, had I just taken the time to examine my needs, then assess who was really responsible for meeting them (me or the Lord); then I would have spent far less time feeling out of sorts, disgruntled, and disastisfied with my life and how it had turned out.

I am not negating any actions taken towards me by others (unkindness or betrayal, for example); I am just looking at me very carefully and seeing that in spending so much time doing for others, I neglected my own needs and emotional well-being. And, without saying anything about it, I gave the impression that everything was OK, when in fact it was not. No one knew how I was suffering on the inside, and therefore, no one bothered to ask me about it. The more I covered it up, the more hurt I felt, the more alone I became, and the more unwilling I was to allow anyone in to help me out.

The Lord has peeled all that away and given me new life. He has helped me accept personal responsibility, and I now know that I am responsible for my own happiness (state of mind). As a Christ follower, Jesus has already given me the Grace to be free, the Grace to be forgiven, and the Grace to live a victorious life. I have to take hold of what He has given to me, and then use it. I can no longer look to others to make me happy. I am solely responsible for that feeling. I am solely repsonsible for how I act when I am happy just as much as how I act when I am sad. I can no longer blame anyone else for my feelings or lack of feelings. I am my own person, fully clothed in His Righteousness, and I am ready to embark on a new future whereby I live in the moment, treasuring the relationships I have, and looking forward to making new ones. The happiness aspect of my life is done -- I am satisfied with my life, my purpose, my proposed future, and I am ready to begin taking the steps to see that future come to pass.

The short of it is this: if I want to graduate from college with an MA in English Literature, I know that I must do the work necessary to achieve that goal (take the classes, pass the courses, and complete the requirements of the degree). It is a no-brainer there, and I would think you would agree. If I want to have a good job, then I must get hired, and do good work (maintain a good attitude, be a good team player, be faithful to company policies and such). No one is going to hire me and keep me on if I will not do the work assigned to me. Duh?

Why then do we believe that we can walk through this life without doing the work assigned to us? Why do we think we are not responsible for our daily needs? Yes, the Lord provides to us, and His provision covers everything we need -- but we must do the work, we must get out and do the work. We cannot live on handouts from the Lord, without taking personal responsibility for our actions. The Lord requires this of us -- that we walk humbly with Him, that we seek justice (fairness) and love kindness (compassion and mercy) ~ Micah 6:8. How then can we expect our Lord to carry us without ever asking us to walk. I do not think it is so, I simply do not think it is so.

Our tendency is to want to be rescued, to want something for nothing (the old adage -- the only thing for certain is "death and taxes" is true. The same goes for "there is no free lunch.") Nothing is gained without effort, and taking responsibility for one's life is part of the process of living.

My resolution is this: I have said I wanted to be responsible, but what I was not willing to do was to first take responsibility for myself. Until I was ready to be responsible for myself, which is my health, my welfare, my emotions, my intellect, and my abilities -- I would remain trapped in a "come rescue me" scenario. Taking control of your life doesn't mean that you are no longer relying on the Lord; oh no! It simply means that you understand what is He role in your life (Savior, Ruler, Master, and King -- Lord of all); and what is your role in your life (daughter, child, servant, follower). My role is to do what the Lord asks of me. It also is to live and to use the skills He has given to me (both natural and spiritual) for His Glory, and my good. Yes, my good. God has created within me the desire to work, to live rightly and properly, to be circumspect with all He has entrusted to me. If I do not do the things I feel inside -- I am dishonoring what He has created me to do. I must do what I feel inside, and know that it is He who first placed those desires within me.

As I work this out on a daily basis this is what I see:
  • I see myself working
  • I see myself being honorable with my finances
  • I see myself taking good care of myself
  • I see myself honestly living and be responsible for my relationships
  • I see myself trusting the Lord for His Provision
  • I see myself using my abilities for His Glory
  • I see myself living righteously because He is Righteous
  • and I see myself walking along after the Lord, following Him and doing what He asks of me.

This is what I see, and it is GOOD.

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