Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Recovering Control Freak!

I admit it...I am a recovering control freak. As with anything we are OCD about "recovering" means I still have those tendencies, but because I'm aware of them I can try to keep myself in check. In my hay day as "controller of all things" I wouldn't have been able to tell you that that was what I was doing. Sometimes we even kid ouselves into thinking we actually are in control. Imagine! Who sets goals for something that's impossible to achieve? Apparently, I do. When I look back now, I see that I was just trying to protect myself. And I had plenty of good reasons for doing it. We deceive ourselves into thinking that by controlling things we will keep ourselves from getting emotionally hurt.

So how does one become a recovering control freak? At some point trying to control our world gets downright exhausting. Not being in control means that we leave it up to someone else and the possibility that they will not come through for us. Not being in control means that we stop worrying, especially about the things that are clearly out of our control. Not being in control means SURRENDER. There, I said it. The big surrender word. Give up, white flag surrender. But realizing we cannot control the things we want to control can feel hopeless. I was in my lowest of lows when I finally realized what I was doing. It took other people to lovingly show me. And the best part of all was realizing that there actually was someone in control. Instead of trying to make my life turn out the way I want, someone else has the plan.

God has a plan. He is in control of everything. The only thing you can control is how you think and how you live (Francine Rivers). If things aren't working out in your world, maybe it's not just your world that's the problem. Sometimes we need to take a hard look inside. Why do we make the choices we make? Who are we living for? Where do we put our trust? And trust is a whole other story (read A Little Something About Trust for my take on that).

Part of the reason I'm writing this is because I'm struggling with it today. I want to have all the answers. I wish I could "fix" people's problems. It would be great if I knew exactly what choices I was supposed to make, the magic thing I could say, or the perfect thing to meet someone's need. And then I wind up feeling exhausted again, and then hopelessness starts, and I feel discouraged. But then I remember...His hands are open, ready for me to hand the reins back over to Him, so that I don't have to worry about it anymore.

Why is this so hard? Oh, because I'm "recovering" and I'm not perfect.

But He is!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Seventy-Seven Times

So we've established that because we're human we both disappoint and are disappointed by others. So that brings up another area to consider, and that's forgiveness. I find it easy to forgive the minor mistakes and hurtful behavior of others. I don't think I'm a grudge keeper. But it's the big hurts, the hugely impactful disappointments and betrayals that I have had to grapple with. Let me preface by saying that I understand that I am called to forgive. I agree that God forgives so I must also forgive. In the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (MATTHEW 18:21-22) Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" and Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."

Let's be honest, forgiveness is a pretty heavy concept. It's not hard for God, so why do you think it's so hard for us? I'm sure our own baggage has something to do with it (ya think?). How much hurt and disappointment do you have to experience before you become bitter and hardened? Before you start protecting yourself more and trusting other people less? This has to be why forgiveness is at the heart of God's message (Colossians 3:12-14). Before we take on a role as "victim" try to remember the convicting story in John 8:3-8 when a woman accused of adultery was brought to Jesus and he said "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." (or in Matthew 7:1-5 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"). This is what we should do, but do we? When we are wronged do we remember the times when we screwed up and needed someone's forgiveness?

I have had some things happen in my life that required me to work through the issue of forgiveness. It wasn't as easy for me as I would have liked. I read a book called, "Choosing Forgiveness" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, that helped. I think I got all caught up in the expression "forgive and forget". I thought that in order to forgive someone I had to forget that it ever happened. Unless someone has invented a mind eraser then I don't think that's going to happen any time soon. Who thought that expression up anyway? I think part of me didn't want to forget. Maybe I just didn't want him to ever forget...and that's my sin. I have learned that forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. Although I can forgive because I have been asked by the person to forgive, their desire for forgiveness, even their repentence (or lack there of) should not impact whether or not I choose to forgive them. How hard is that? Forgiveness is an act of faith and its a choice. It doesn't mean pretending that the offense never happened and erasing it from memory. "Forgiveness is a promise...a deliberate decision to deal with another's sin by doing away with it" (Nancy Leigh DeMoss).

Mark Gungor said in LAUGH YOUR WAY TO A BETTER MARRIAGE that "unforgiveness is like taking poison and hoping the other person will die." Funny AND true! You are the only one that suffers when you don't forgive someone else. It can eat you up inside until all you're left with is bitterness. Holding on to the pain & hurt that others have caused you only leaves you angry and lonely. "...Whatever sin has been committed against you, the choice NOT to forgive is itself a serious sin" (Nancy Leigh DeMoss).

Let me leave you with this parting thought...forgiveness can get easier with time. Time heals and we might even forget...a little. Letting go of things you cannot change is freeing. "God has not counted our sins against us" (2 Cor. 5:19). "When it comes to forgiveness, (He) would not command us to do something that He would not enable us to do" (Nancy Leigh DeMoss). If I let myself go there, the pain of things in the past still hurt. I can go right back to each offense and feel exactly what I was feeling that day. But how will that help or change anything? Instead, by letting go & forgiving, I can have hope for tomorrow, I can focus on what lies ahead, and I can trust God to see me through, even when the next disappointment comes (because it will come).

"Whatever's in the past, it's exactly the past God wants us to have. He doesn't want us to try to change it or forget it. He wants us to learn how to use it to serve him." --KEVIN HUGGINS

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Far Away from Ground Zero

I wanted to write a blog entry today. I had several thoughts about what I could write about. But then, I felt guilty. It's life as usual here in Pennsylvania. Adam goes to work, I take the kids to school, make dinner...you know, the usual. It's easy to get caught up in the every day things and perhaps forget for a moment that there is a crisis going on in Haiti. This morning I woke up to newsradio announcing a 2nd earthquake hit today. What does that mean for a country already in crisis? Because we don't watch a lot of TV in our house these days, it's easy to stay out of the loop. Maybe it's self-protective. If you don't see the pictures or hear the details it won't break your heart? You won't feel so helpless? The sun is shining, I have running water, my kids have to go to school, nothing has changed in my life. I guess I'm just feeling convicted that I need to be aware. They need our prayers and whatever else we have to give!

The earthquake in Haiti is devasting to its people, but there is a whole other issue going on and that's how the orphans will fair through all of this. I'm slowly becoming more informed by visiting the following websites:

The Livesay's
Randy and Kelcey Bohlender of the Zoe Foundation
Heartline Ministries
Worldwide Village

As I read at these sites, tears well in my eyes. Have I been so clueless? It's hard to know what it's really like there. It's hard to know what the true issues are. So the only thing we absolutely can do is pray. These ministries are asking for prayer. So that's what we can do. For God knows what is going on there. He knows every detail of what is happening. He is in control! He will make a way! When we can do nothing, but live our life today, doing our regular uneffected routine, He is at work!
JAMES 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

From the Heartline Ministries website:
We have prioritized our needs as follows:
First of all, we need prayer for Haiti and for safety of our people in Haiti. Our clinic is up and going. Please see the blog updates from John, Livesay's and Buxman's for details and pictures. Pray for the wounded.
Second, we are in great need of finances. We recognize that it will take more people knowing our need than our small base of supporters. We are asking each of you to spread the news by sending information and links to our website to as many people as possible.
My final encouragement comes from an excerpt of an article called "The Biblical Response to Disaster Requires Surrender" by Michael Barrick
To read this article in it's entirety click HERE.
A Biblical Response
Nehemiah offers Christians a step-by-step process on how to respond to disaster in a righteous, godly manner that, despite tragedy, will lead to kingdom expansion. The first step, prayer, seems to be the hardest, especially when we are overwhelmed with heart-wrenching scenes and repeated appeals for help. Still, as with Nehemiah, our challenge is to acknowledge and confess, especially publicly, that we are unable to deal with the disasters (and opportunities they present for sharing our faith) without God’s guidance. In doing so, the honor and glory will go to God from the start instead of to people or the programs.

So then, acknowledging the power of unified prayer is the first challenge facing the Church. Indeed, it is the proper first response so that we can know how to care for those in need and earn the right to share the hope found only in Jesus. When we do pray in one accord we have an incredible opportunity to allow God to demonstrate his presence in the midst of the storm.

It was not until he totally and fully surrendered to God that Nehemiah was directed to inspect the damage of the walls or go about any business of doing anything (Nehemiah 2:11-16). Once he assessed the damage, he then asked God to show him what it would take to rebuild the walls.
(Photograph from http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A New Year

The ball drops, the fireworks pop, and everyone shouts "Happy New Year!" My kids look at me and say, "What's the big deal?" Good question, I think. Hooray, we've made it through another year? So excited for a fresh start? What is it about the digits in the year changing that makes us want to celebrate? The first week of January friends were complaining how they couldn't find a parking spot at the gym. Commitments to New Years Resolutions abound with quitting this and changing that. Motivated by the date change to find some self-control that was missing all of the other months of the year? It's kind of funny if you think about it. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate new chapters and fresh starts. I mean whatever it takes to get you moving, changing, doing, growing, learning. I just wonder sometimes why we feel like we have to resolve to change something at the start of each new year?

So, where is my encouragement? I mean that's what I want this blog to be, right? Maybe what I'm getting at is what motivates you? Is it a dissatisfaction with who you are? Is it a desire to be or look different? Is it for your spouse or is it because you're not happy with yourself? Are the changes you are making taking things away or adding things to your life?

In this self-focused world, I wonder what it would be like if the New Years Resolutions people had were to volunteer more, to reach out to someone in need, to party less and have quality time with your family more, to read things that encourage you instead of things that bring you down? What would this world be like if people decided to try to be others-focused instead of self-focused?

I just wonder...

Blogging Anniversary

Well, I just realized that I managed to keep this blog going for a whole year! Happy Anniversary to me! When I started NEW TO THIS I didn't know if I would actually keep it up. To my surprise I have enjoyed writing and sharing my heart with whoever might be reading. So thank you faithful blog followers and occasional visitors for reading my entries and encouraging me to continue. I always like to hear that someone is reading it and perhaps getting something out of what I've written.

God willing, I will continue having something to say and the words to share it for another year.
Related Posts with Thumbnails