Saturday, February 18, 2017

I can do it myself

The kind of pride that says, "I can do it myself." often makes life more difficult. But, when the "it" in question is something that only God can do, the results can be devastating... not only to the person trying to take over, but those around them as well.

The story of Moses has been my favorite since I was a toddler. When I was four I saved my banana peel from lunch and glued it to my coloring paper where the water and the reeds had already been drawn. I was devastated when my mom threw it away. 

I remember, nearly a decade later, hearing about people using clear shellac to make fruits and veggies last for decorative purposes and thinking to myself, “That's what Mom should have done with my banana peel baby Moses boat. Darn her!" I was still mad. (I'm mostly over it now, just in case you were wondering.)

Anyway, we know that Moses was born and adopted into the house of Pharaoh. He grew up knowing that he was Hebrew, basically raised by his own birth family. At some point while growing up, Moses became aware that he was their promised deliverer. Knowing that, he no doubt knew that God had set out a specific time frame for the delivering of His people. In Genesis 15:13, God told Abraham that his descendants would be delivered in 400 years.

Yet, when Moses came upon a Hebrew being mistreated by an Egyptian, Moses killed the Egyptian. According to Acts 7:23 he did it in the hopes of being recognized as their deliverer.

Why? Because He believed it was time to to start the process. He was their deliverer, right? They may not know it yet, but they would see it when they realized what happened. He expected to be able to do what He wanted, when He wanted, in his own strength and have his people fall at his feet, thankful.

It was the next day when Moses realized that things had not gone as he had planned... and he hightailed it out of town. Exodus 12:40 says that it was exactly 430 years before they were delivered. That is including Moses's 40 years in the desert. His own pride cost the Hebrews an additional 30 years of slavery.

I personally know that God did not want me to be homeless. It was never His plan and neither were any of the things that led up to our homelessness. But, I knew His promises. I knew that He wanted to provide for the kids and I. I knew that He didn't want me to be single the rest of my life. I knew that God promised to give me the desires of my heart... so I set out after them, in my own strength. I thought I should have been able to do what I wanted, when I wanted, and God's promises would back me up.

By the time I realized that things weren't going to go exactly as planned for me, I was stuck. It took
surrendering to Him to get me out of where I was. If I had not humbled myself and surrendered to God, He wouldn't have been able to build my business underneath me without me trying to take the reins and continue to do things myself. A quick look at the past has proven that doing this never works out well. My pride cost my kids years of putting up with men who were not good for us and six months of homelessness, among other things.

In both of these cases, the "I can do it myself" pride cost people big. Moses and I both thought we knew what God wanted for us and decided to help move His plans along.

As tired as I've become over the years of hearing the words, "It's all in God's timing." I do see that there are some things that can't be rushed. 

I've learned that the secret to living a fulfilling life when you don't yet have all you want is to enjoy the journey on your way there instead of speeding ahead towards your destination. God will fulfill His promises for you. If you watch carefully, you'll find out that watching HOW He does so is more exciting than receiving the actual thing you are waiting for.

The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.
Exodus 14:14

Only by pride comes contention, with the well advised there is wisdom.
Proverbs 13:10

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

On Valentine's Day

I originally wrote this last Valentine's Day, but I never published it. As I was re-reading it I realized it is still something I want to share. So, here goes.

Whether I am your sister or your sister-in-Christ I want you to know that I care about you. I've made a lot of bad choices in my life. While I can't change them, I hope that, occasionally, some of my mistakes are lessons for more than just me.  

I still don't always get it right, but thankfully I have grace to get me through. God is good... all the time. 

Know that wherever you are today, I have been there before. Broken-hearted? Perfectly content being single? Dating an abuser? Happily married? I've been there. What is different now is that I used to let my relationship status on any given day define who I was.

Nearly six years ago, a long term relationship I was in ended abruptly. Devastated, I chose self-destructive ways to deal with it... although I didn't see those ways as self-destructive at the time.

The next four years were rough. Even when I chose to show hope and happiness on the outside, inside I was a self-loathing mess. I desperately wanted someone to show me that I wasn't as easily cast aside as a few key men in my life had made it seem.

I believed I only needed one man to prove it to me. Surely in all of the men in all of the world, there was one... but one after another they let me down.

By 2015, life in general had begun to turn around. God had rescued me from my own bad choices, and I credited Him with that fully... but spiritually I was fading. I honestly believed that God didn't care if I was happy.

Then, something wonderful happened. At what I thought was just going to be a regular coaching session, God spoke to me. As I talked to my coach, and he asked me why I reacted to this one way and that another, I started to see that every decision I was making was wrapped up in my self worth... and I didn't know what that was. 

I had begged God over and over through the years to show me my worth. I had 
read great stories where others came to understand theirs through one perfect moment or divine appointment. I didn't know why He wouldn't tell me mine... but I had formed some ideas. They were wrong.

Two years ago, God showed me how all of those I times I begged Him to show me that I was worth something, He had been trying... But I would ask Him and then look to people for my answer. I had done again and again.

That's when I asked Him to help me break that cycle. He showed me that the people I was looking to were "just people" and my thoughts about myself should have nothing to do with how they view me.

While I know you won't understand your worth until you are ready to understand... I have to share this with you. So that you know why it is so important to me that you know who you are in God's eyes... not who you are in the eyes of another person.

Whether it is Valentine's Day, Christmas, New Years Eve, or Thursday afternoon... Please remember that there is nothing in a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates that tells you your worth. No ring on your finger or marriage license means you are worth more or less than anyone else in this world. No amount of respect or lack-thereof from someone else changes who you are.

No man or woman in your bed with an arm around you can show you how strong you are or how loved you are or how amazing you were created to be.

Only One can do that... your Creator.

Here is what God sees when He thinks of you... read it out loud to yourself. Faith is voice activated. When you say it out loud, you believe it.