I think I’m in a season of change & growth. A season of clearly seeing the changes that need to be made inside my heart. And to be perfectly honest I’m not particularly thrilled about it. I feel like I’ve been re-learning some very important lessons recently. Lessons that I thought I had learned pretty well the first time. But it seems just when you start to think you have that area of your life taken care of …. well is when you realize …. you don’t. And when there are issues in your heart that need to be taken care of God will do whatever He can to make sure you’re reminded of it….over and over again, until you finally decide to do the work, and take the time it takes to dig up all the over grown weeds and start over again. Below is a list of three things that I feel God is wanting me to take a long, hard look at all over again….
~ Selfishness. Lately I have been able to see with pretty clear eyes just how selfish I can sometimes be. How much I tend to think about my needs, my wants, my comfort and my happiness….and how often I use the words “my” or “I”. I have been feeling really convicted of this in my relationships. Sometimes I find myself thinking “Yeah I know you may need this, but what about what I need, what about what I deserve?” Especially when I have been hurt by this person and haven’t quite forgiven them (I’ll get into that in a min.). If this is how I am now it scares me to think it might be how I am someday in marriage as well. So I definitely want to take care of this issue now. I’ve heard it said that friendship is preparation for marriage, and thinking about that can sometimes be a scary thought. A good marriage can only happen when both people are thinking more about the others needs more than their own. Most marriages end because of selfishness. Not being able to see anyone else’s needs but your own is what will ruin any relationship. Am I learning from the friendships in my life? I hope so. I feel so challenged to try and think more about what others need more than what I need.
~ Forgiveness. Ah yes forgiveness … or my lack there of. I would like to think I do not have a problem forgiving and letting go anymore but unfortunately, I think I still do. I have had problems with my anger and the temptation to hold grudges in the past. It ate at me till I took care of it. Till I went to God with all of my anger and bitterness and gave it over to Him. It was a process but I really felt God release me from the prison that is unforgiveness. But sometimes I still find myself holding onto things I should be letting go of. At times I find myself telling God things like “But you don’t understand, they hurt me! Aren’t I justified in how I feel?” and I always feel God whispering in my spirit “You have to forgive, you have to let it go.” It just seems unfair, ya know? But I know it’s truth. I know it’s where true freedom lies – in the letting go. If you don’t it will end up consuming your life, your heart, and all of who you are. I am truly only hurting myself when I choose to not forgive.
The scariest part of harboring unforgiveness in your heart is that it puts a wall between you and God. The bible says if you don’t forgive, God cannot forgive you. I don’t know about you but the thought of that is really scary to me. I make too many mistakes in this life to not have the forgiveness and mercy of my Jesus. Consider these two scriptures on forgiveness –
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you of your sins.” – Mark 11:25, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Luke 6:35 – 38.
Yikes! That last part makes me squirm. I’ve heard it said that when you do not forgive you break the bridge that you too have to cross. Forgiveness is a choice. Love is a choice – not a feeling. In Jesus’ name I choose to forgive and love.
~ Surrender. The last lesson I’ve been learning is a seemingly obvious one or so you would think. The lesson is that – I am NOT God. I know this was obvious to you but I had to state it for me. The thing is I find that I have a hard time giving an issue or person over to God and just let Him be God. Let Him do the work that I know I cannot. I can’t seem to surrender. I have to realize that I can’t control life. Things happen and no matter what God is on the throne and I have to trust that He sees the bigger picture that I don’t see.
I also need to realize that I cannot save anyone. That is not my job, it’s His. I cannot make them see that the choices they’re making are detrimental to them. I cannot make them see that they are choosing a wasteland over a castle. I cannot make them see that they are on a wrong path, especially when they know better and have gone down that road a hundred times, and it’s caused them nothing but heartache everytime. I cannot do this. I can love someone, I can give them good advice, I can pray for them but I cannot make them choose what is right. And I cannot out of love take on the burdens of their mistakes. I must surrender it to God and let Him be God.
There is lyric by The Devil Wears Prada that says “I’m gonna hope for you, I’m gonna pray for you amongst the reckless and the black. My time is yours my friend.” Everyone needs and deserves to be prayed for and hoped for but you can’t save them. It’s not your burden to bear. You can only give godly advice, pray, and hope. And let God be God.
I think so often we as Christians can get a bit comfortable letting these and other behaviors slide. I’m not judging anyone here, but being a pk who has seen first hand how the church can let petty and immature behavior get in the way of their relationships and their testimony, I’ve come to realize we need to face issues head on and let God change us. When we don’t we not only hurt ourselves but others as well. We will not be able to have a strong, life changing walk with God if we hold on to our old destructive habits and behaviors. Jesus wants more for His children, He wants us to grow, learn, and thrive in Him.
I know that it will be a process to getting there and that at times I’m sure I will fail, but I believe that God wants me to submit to His loving transformation. I need and want to grow in these areas. Though I’m under no illusions that it will be easy. The growing and learning process rarely ever is. I know God will call me to do things that will go against what my flesh feels like doing, but if I choose to obey Him I know beautiful change will be on its way.