Thursday, December 29, 2011

What Happens When the Weather Changes and the Emperor is Still Wearing His New Clothes

So many of us have heard of the tale of the Emperor and His New Clothes; an Emperor is talked into having clothing made of a precious material that is only visible to those who are worthy enough to see it.  While his royal court sees no material or clothing being made, the tailors convince him that it works and is only seen by those who are of a good enough pedigree. His royal court for fear of being kicked out the royal home and service, goes along with the scenario.  He has a number of fittings and when the clothing is finished (and the tailors have been paid an outrageous amount of money) there is a processional for him to show his clothing off to the rest of the citizens.
While the processional is making its way through the city, the people are looking at the king who is wearing what looks like just his undergarments, although they were told that  the special material is only seen by those who are worthy so they all pretend that they can see the clothing that had been made especially for him.  After they get a short way through the city, a young child who is still young and not understanding the lie that everyone was accepting for the sake of not upsetting the King yells out, “Mom!! He’s not wearing any clothes!!” The King overhears the young child and cringes because he himself feels that he is a fake, not wearing any clothes but refuses to show it and tries to get through the rest of the processional without showing any signs of embarrassment. 

I find the story for us in this is more than just the story of not being coerced into doing things that put us out there, making us look foolish and jeopardizing our character.  Looking at the title “What Happens When the Weather Changes and the Emperor is Still Wearing His New Clothes”  there is another side introduced.  So many times we (the King) get involved in things where we put on a good front for others and do whatever we can to hide our true selves from people (wearing clothing only seen by those worthy). We try to surround ourselves with the people (tailors) who will stroke our egos and agree with the things that we tell them and won’t question our viewpoint or  authority.  When we are ousted by a voice of clarity or truth we have a tendency to do as the King did and continue on our path, willfully undeterred by the truth ringing in our ears that we are living an unholy  lifestyle, that we are a fake…our  story is that those in our circle or those who are “worthy” in our eyes will let us just fly under the radar of living as we should because they are our friends.  We know in our minds and hearts that we are wrong, but we refuse to acknowledge the fact that we are wrong but instead draw attention to those who question us question their level of worthiness and their need to “reveal us” to ourselves.  The bad part is when people reveal us to ourselves and we publicly retaliate against them.  We choose to make a public example out of them because we feel they are trying to embarrass us but in the end, we end up embarrassing ourselves and acknowledging openly that we were in the wrong. My personal motto is: “When I am in the wrong, I should not care what I look like while trying to get right.  I may look a mess, but the end result of what I am going to be is so much better than what I am or was”.

The other side for the story is when the seasons change. If the season changed and the emperor was still parading around in his new clothes his body would still show signs of being open to the elements.  If it was raining, he would have gotten wet, if it was snowing he would have been freezing, if there was a sandstorm  or anything his skin would become chaffed.  We would expect him to take measures immediately to shield himself from the elements forgetting  that he is supposed to be wearing clothing. But how many times do the seasons change in our situations and we refuse to acknowledge them or we just deny that any changes are being made or taking place.  We stick to our dishonesty and misconceptions in the name of not being embarrassed or having our true character revealed.  Even when the situations that we have been in have been completely depleted,  we still hold on to a shred of pride or hope that we can just get by on the  feelings and opinions about us that still hold us in high regard.

So many times we need to run back home like the King should have done to get some clothes and repent of what we’ve done and ask for forgiveness but we don’t.  The backlash is when those who mean us no harm are injured by our retaliation and whatever relationship is destroyed.  Whether they are in our “royal court” or whether they are acquaintances, we damage our relationships with them by treating them badly.
Catch the video which is on YouTube...link of the video. (Excuse the lag in the video/audio -- I guess I need to use my camera and not my webcam next time)

Monday, October 3, 2011

In my own words

So, in the past few months life has been hectic.  I will say this....there is nothing like some personal crisis to make you re-evaluate your relationship with God. I have seen firsthand where when the Devil cannot get to you, he will attack those close to you, whether it be immediate family, in-laws, or your spouse.  I have looked back on some of the not so wise decisions I made in college or while single, and I remember how at the time, they seemed to be great decisions...not so much anymore. (What WAS I thinking?)  I have seen in my family, how other's bad decisions have affected their lives (and mine in the process).  I have now been married 2 years and 4 months and thanks to certain restrictions from employers (lol), we're STILL newlyweds :-)  Being married is a CHALLENGE....whoever disagrees must have married a clone of themselves...(this is the point where all married couples nod in agreement) GOD has been the glue for my marriage, and also for my peace of mind.  With my husband and I having to carry on our lives miles apart, the Devil has certainly had his share of opportunities to break us up. Has he tried???  CERTAINLY.......That question should read, "WHEN has he NOT tried?"

I have found that the path to choosing forgiveness when you do not think it should be granted is paved not smoothly, but with cobblestones.  Those cobblestones can be circumstances, haters or over zealous family, friends and acquaintances that do not want to stand idly by watching their loved one get hurt. When faced with making lifechanging decisions, I had to do what I had been doing from the jump....wait on God.  Now that does not mean that I just did nothing.  I took care of myself and business that needed my attention, but when it came to certain things, I had to let God do what he wanted to do....I could not rush anything.  I had to be sure to dot all my i's and cross all my t's...I had to live in such a way that would bring glory to God and not myself. God teaches us to be faithful in all things, not just the big things. 

Bluntly, in my mind I had thought so many things and made up my mind time and time again....but I could never accept one of those as being God's will for my life....so what did I do? Continue to wait on him. Now looking back on the decision to listen to God and not my own reasoning, I see that it was for a reason.  As I continue to grow in this "new" area of leaning on God in my marriage, it lessens the expectations I have of my husband because I remember that God works on his life the same way He works on mine.  I understand that both of us are two separate personalities, with separate hobbies, likes, dislikes and areas of ministry.  On the other hand, we both have our own vices, downfalls, and triggers.

 In my own words, all great marriages, comes with their share of growing pains and when both people are committed to something that they believe in and they keep God at the head, then it is more than possible for marriages to be successful.  You stay in something if it is worth it....and anything that GOD ordains IS worth it.  I am not saying this for me.....but I know that someone else needs to hear that it is not just them.....and it will get better....one way or another.....stay in the presence of God......

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stick to the Script!

So when a movie is being made, the movie director has a group of actors who are telling a story....a long cinematic story.  It does not matter the genre...comedy, horror, romantic, etc. they all have a script.  If the actors and actresses begin to add in their own lines to the script, and they fail to use the material that was given to them, what starts off as a sci-fi ends up a comedy and what starts off as romantic, ends up as drama.  It does not matter what the beginning of the movie looks like, if you do not follow the script you will not get the movie you were hoping for.

When we think about plans/goals that we lay out for ourselves, it can run the same range of returns.  When you learn a new language because of an upcoming trip to a new place, you may end up learning another language fluently but if you do not follow through and go visit, you may end up as a translator for a business somewhere. I know I have an ongoing goal for myself and although the script has changed a couple of times, the goal has not....how I get there has, but every time it has changed, I have stuck with it.

When speaking on credibility, if we do not stick to our word on things that we discuss with others, they will start to wonder if we are being honest.  We cannot tell one group one thing and  then tell another group something different then when someone finds the flaw, we get indignant....stick to the script...keep your word.  If you say that you are going to do something, make sure you do it.  With any task, there is nothing wrong with not being able to do something because you do not know how to, but there is something wrong with konwing how to and being able to and choosing to not do something especially if others are counting on you.  Be courteous, let them know. This way the task is handled and you do not lose credibility (or respect).

In all these scenarios, giving up and quitting is never an option. It is always going to be an issue of getting things straightened out and maybe rewriting what needs to be said or done or even going back and scrapping the entire plan to come up with a better one..but when that happens, do not be worried, just continue to stick to the script. Even if the script changes and things come to an end, that does not mean that you quit, it just meant that the script came to an end.

Additionally:

When looking at the aspect of where to get your advice from.....Stick to the ScriptURE!  With all the self-help, relationship, work ethic (and more) materials, so many times we bypass the Bible in lieu of other authors. If you find that the version you have is hard to understand, look into getting a version that makes it easier to read and understand.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Do I Look Like a Bellhop?

I have a set of luggage that I LOVE....no really I do.  Although I would be floored if it was in my fav color (blue), I love it because of its size and the different pieces that came with it. One extra large, one regular, one carry on  (the one I use the most), one large and one small toiletry pieces.  Now when I travel, I carefully select what pieces to take so that I do not have to check any bags...I usually travel with two carry-ons and be done with it, I hate to travel with a ton of luggage.  But I started thinking that if I was going to travel somewhere that has bellhops at the ticket kiosk, front desk or valet station, they would be able to help me at least unload my things from my car or vehicle and/or get me one of those rolling carts.  If I was lucky enough to go to a really nice hotel I may even get a bellhop to carry my things to my room....a bellhop to carry my baggage.

So many times we treat our family and friends like bellhops without even recognizing it.  We start off wanting someone to help us by bearing our burden (although we may not even be sure in what way exactly) and they end up carrying our baggage.  We all go through trials and we need support (emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally) and it may start off with us receiving prayers, words of encouragement, etc. but somewhere along the way, the burden turns into baggage. 
  • The burden of healing after a bad breakup turns into the baggage of being discontented with (wo)men or assuming all of them are dogs, golddiggers, etc. and finding something wrong with everyone else that our friends try to introduce us to.
  • The burden of finding a new job turns into the baggage of others paying our bills because they do not want us to be homeless or go without things we need and in the process we become dependent on them even after we may find a job to pay all our own bills.
  • The burden of self-improvement turns into the baggage of us frustrating others when we fail at keeping up our end of the bargain of being held accountable.
Now, I will go out on a limb and put myself out there (because I definitely do not want to put anyone else out) and I will say this: I will help bear a burden, but do NOT look at me to carry your baggage.  When I have to carry your baggage, I now have to think like you do,  do like you do, and mirror you in every way.  Not because it is necessary for ME to live, but it is necessary for me to carry your baggage.  Now I am not saying this to be rude, but keep in mind, EVERYONE has baggage...whether it be good or bad....and that means I have my own to carry.  Good baggage? Can there be such a thing??? Yes.  Do we call it baggage? No. Why do we not call it baggage?  Because it is not a burden. Think of non-profits...they are functioning to help a cause.  The person who started the non -profit may have had an experience that made them more sensitive to certain situations and whenever that situation comes up, they feel the prompting to help.

But back to the baggage...We always hear that we are supposed to learn from a situation but leave the baggage. So many times we think we do that, only to find that we have been dragging our baggage behind us on a cart tied to our ankle. When our pace slows because we find ourselves back in the same situation, that is when the baggage cart keeps rolling and hits us in the achilles tendon like how kids catch their moms with grocery carts and we are reminded all over again about the baggage we have been dragging.  The easiest way to do a spring cleaning is to go over the baggage that you have (including your carry-ons) and start looking at what is packed in them.  If there is no useful information or outcomes, then it is not worth holding onto. Nobody packs heavy coats, earmuffs, scarves, winter boots and gloves to go to a beach destination vacation...if the items inside the suitcase are not the right ones, you do yourself no favor by bringing them.

Now letting go of baggage can be hard, but believe me, you will start to see how much lighter you feel in all aspects after getting rid of things. Keep this in mind though, you can only get rid of your own baggage....you cannot help someone else get rid of theirs.  People will only get rid of their baggage when THEY are tired of dealing with it. (Reminiscent of my Hoarding and Addition to Hoarding blogs).  When we refuse to get rid of our baggage we build an area around us, where our baggage is just sitting and it keeps others at bay.

Imagine sitting in the middle of a room with about 100 suitcases surrounding you.  Some suitcases are small and light while others are large and heavy. When other people come to you, they cannot even approach you becuase you are surrounded by baggage, they cannot get to know the real you without having to move or carry away some of your baggage.  Now think of how many pieces of luggage you personally can move without getting tired quickly...now imagine someone else doing the moving.  People will give up on trying to get to know you or help you because you have too much baggage in the way.

Remember the bellhop? Everybody has a purpose, everybody has a part to play, and everyone deserves appreciation.  In most areas, it is a general custom to tip the bellhop and we need to remember to tip ours. Most of the time our friends do not want or expect a financial payback for their listening ear or advice, but a word of thanks, a note, text or card is a nice thoughtful way to pay them. Think of how you want others to respond when you come to their aid...Remember, when we remember to keep our baggage light and tip the bellhops, they do not seem to mind helping us when we repeatedly need it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Extreme Couponing for Jesus

So I was on the couch one evening watching the TV show "Extreme Couponing"...to anyone who has never seen this show,  it will leave you second guessing your ability to get every cent worth out of your coupons.  The shoppers are usually moms with multiple children and are stay at home women.  They dedicate about 30+ hours to researching stores and cutting coupons for a shopping trip that will take them about 3 or 4 hours at the least.  They will end up buying 4 or 5 different items but have them in multiples like 70 containers of mustard or 30 packs of hot dogs or 90 bottles of tylenol but the kicker being that when they get up to the register their total may be in the $1,200's but they only pay about $2.00. All that started my thinking, how many times are we presented with a chance to witness to more than one person at a time but we bypass that chance?  We may be in a public area or in the company of more than one or two people who we know are unsaved but we keep OUR (rolling my eyes) Jesus in a box, not sharing him with anyone.  The value of 100 people's lives to God is worth more than the $1.00 worth of our time it will take for us to  say something to them to share Jesus.  I'm not saying that we have to squeeze out the Gospel in a nutshell every time, but we could give a Godly opinion or advice from how God would want us to respond to others and give God a shameless plug. If those moms can go shopping and get 100 cans of baby food for $.02 because they do a little careful planning, why can we not plan the same when it comes to our witnessing? We sometimes think that it takes so much to witness, like we need a committe/board, or to host a huge event....and that is not the case, the way we conduct ourselves is sometimes a huge witness especially if we have been through hard times.  The same way those moms will only get 5- 10 different items, we may only be targeting 5 - 10 different types of people.  But the value is when those 5 - 10 can go back and share what they experienced. We need to look at our surroundings and see every day of our life as a chance to do some extreme couponing for Christ, even if we are a silent witness.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I am Covered

I am covered.


I was watching a video of Beth Moore speaking with a group of women about “5 things to be happy about”. One point that she made that hit home with me was “I am covered.” The explanation behind it was that I am covered by God….but only after I lay myself bare to Him. When we come to God and admit to our sin specifically, then He can cover that specific sin. Moore says, “God will not cover what we cover, he can only cover what we uncover.” Notice I did not say admit to the Pastor, Bishop, Pope or church clergy…or other family in Christ. I said God. We try to half-repent, repenting to only the obvious things that others can see, but we keep the roots covered, like repenting of the fruit our trees bear will kill the root issues. Hmm. Now what sense does that make? But that is for later discussion.

Back to going bare before God…We try to hold on to a little bit of sin thinking and saying in our heart to God, “you get that big, ugly sin over there that makes me look bad, I can handle this little bit over here. I know you taught me to come to you for help instead of doing it myself, but God, I have grown in my walk and I think I can handle this lil’ bit of sin.” We have to come to God and specifically say what we are sorry for. We already know the feeling of freedom in God for repenting of our sins and receiving Him as Lord of our lives (if we are saved) but why do we not want that same feeling when it comes to repenting for just ONE sin in particular? It is like I have talked about with friends, when we apologize for something it does not make sense for us to apologize for how someone else feels in a situation or how I feel (even more self-centered). It only makes sense for me to apologize for what my part was in the issue, same thing when we come to God, we have to apologize specifically for what we did or did not do. If we do not then the apology means nothing to the person who needs to hear it…including God. He knows when we are bluffing on our apologies to Him any day but I would think He is especially concerned just before we take communion. I can think back in my teens and young 20’s when I may have not been involved in the most wholesome leisure activities and I would ask God for forgiveness but in my heart I was not really trying to do the right thing. I was trying to do what I wanted…why? ‘Cause I was selfish and not interested in truly doing God’s will. I had to get to the point where I had to come to God and lay my heart out…admit to my selfishness, my envy, my hate (Gasp? Me? Hate someone? Yes…but I had a long history of learning how to craft the “slap on smile”). But the greatest joy was the feeling that even in my much less than perfect being, God was the best cure, solution, comfort, redeemer, Savior, provider…..and oh how I could go on… God lets us know that when we surrender our lives to him complete with all the unmentionable sins that we have committed and tried to sweep under the rug, He gladly covers them with the blood of Jesus. God I am sorry….mmmmmm. God, I am sorry for lying to my parents about where I went out to last weekend…covered. God I am sorry…..hmph. God, I am sorry for not doing as the Holy Spirit prompted me when____.....covered. Point is, we can try to be general with God like we are with people, but people are not the ones who cover us with sinless blood and stand in for us to the Father and save us from Hell.

Okay, now back to half-repenting for the things that we know we need to rid ourselves of but we try to repent of the fruit and not deal with the root cause. I heard something in a bible study a few weeks ago that made so much sense to me…”be careful of the seeds you plant because in time they will bear fruit.” No matter what the seeds are: anger, joy, love, hate, thankfulness, regret, etc. THEY WILL BEAR FRUIT. I find it so funny (yes, even sometimes at my own expense) that we are so stunned to see how our unwilling attitudes to help others will affect our kid’s attitudes to be selfless when they get older. Or to see how when we stay true to what God would have us do how it teaches them to stay with God’s directives no matter what the personal cost is, that God’s way is always more beneficial. So WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY…..WHHHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY do we act like the “lil bits” of sin that we hold on to will not blossom into some huge stubborn ROSE bush with thorns? I say rose bush because: 1. Sin is always attractive, how do you think Satan gets us to sin? The appearance of sin is NEVER ugly…. 2. It will not be like a tree that grows straight up for the most part, one huge trunk with a few branches that may break the main growth pattern. It will have at least 3 or 4 branches or vines that break off, each having their own bunch of roses and thorns. Yes, there may be a luscious rose that beautifully peeks out its head and shows that yes, something attractive comes out of the bush, but do not forget about trying to prune that bush, you will have your own set of finger pricks to deal with. Seriously, we figure we will not do stuff like gamble or watch porn (yes I said it), but we will spend a good $30 on scratch offs or watch shows that have people wearing less clothes than infants and say, “but they have clothes on” or we will say, “but the main parts are covered”. Okay, maybe none of us have struggled with that. Here is another one that for me has ALWAYS been a struggle…”I am not listening to the words, so it is okay to listen to the music.” The bad part is that is a dangerous one. What you listen to, you put in your spirit, and what you put in your spirit comes out in your actions, beliefs, words, etc. I can remember hearing songs that my parents would hear and frown on (and most assuredly speak out against—repeatedly) and I would say “well it is only the instrumental” or “I am not listening to it for the words” but what good does saying that do if I KNOW the words?

Seeing from these examples, we have to watch what we allow into our lives, it may be activities, issues or people. Whatever or whoever those things may be we need to apologize for those things to God (and to those affected). It never seems like a huge deal to us, but it is a huge deal to God when He is waiting to forgive us for the sins that we have committed and cover us. We think that wearing the big girl or big boy pants for 0.2 seconds and getting through a time of trial classifies us to somehow trumping God’s decision and we self-medicate ourselves with our pride and self-righteousness. One last thing that Moore said that was a stick pin was that until we fully accept and embody our forgiveness in Christ we will continue to fall into some form of the sins we struggle with. When we cannot fully accept that God makes us whole and He forgives us and accepts us into a life of righteousness we will continue to struggle and relapse. So what do we need to do? LET IT ALL OUT……TO GOD….YOU WILL NOT BE SORRY……JUST COVERED.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Void? What Void??

So many times we call ourselves busy....busy doing something good, when all we are trying to do is fill a void that we may not realize is there. Chew on this ....just because we have a void doesn't mean that the space isn't filled by something else.  We feel the emptiness with something else, trying to compensate. We figure that if we can just do enough _____ or enough ______ then people will be fooled by or accept what we're doing as doing the right thing.  We just say that we're looking for opportunities to do something...good. But no, it's not the RIGHT thing, it's just A thing and if it's not right then it's WRONG. We run around, not stopping to hear from or look to God see what He has for us.  We figure we know what the Bible says, we've all heard the stories...we know all the clich├ęs...but who cares? We will just do whatever we want because it feels good...it feels productive...it makes us happy... all this to fill a void....who cares what it is or who is affected.  The sad truth is that the void that we don't realize that we have is the one that only God can fill.  He has everything under control when we don't see how...He is the only one who truly knows us...He knows why we have this emptiness. He sees how it started and He knows how it will end. 

God is waiting for us to see that we need Him more than we realize and that if we would just surrender to Him, the void that we mask as "being busy" or "doing God's work" would be filled with the love, divine will, patience, and understanding that He wants to impart to us. Now maybe some of us have "arrived" and we don't have any voids in our lives...but even then, there may be areas of our lives where we are lacking love, peace, joy or other things that God can make full. We need to remember that while we are hard at work for God, not to get carried away in things, events, occasions and the like...we need to remember what the agenda is...and stay true to our beliefs and the reasons why the things, events and occasions take place. The void we may have can be detrimental to us and our work for God if we are not careful to let all areas of our life be ful filled by Him.

I read something today in a book (given to me by my mom) "He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear from God" by Priscilla Shirer that really just hit home for me...

"God is love....all the time....God is good....all the time".

No matter what the void is, God is our only option for filling it correctly......mmm...I think I need to Facebook status that... :-)

Have a great life!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Storm Regulates the Atmosphere

First, I will definitely give credit to my good friend James...the title is from something he said :-)

Second, I know it has been too long since my last post, but I have come to understand that sometimes when God is taking me through things, I find it hard to encourage others without tainting the messages I feel that God is laying on my heart...and honestly, it is hard for me to hear from Him and talk to you all at the same time..

On with the Blog!!!!... :-)

We see this all the time...the weather reporters talk about how there are cold and warm fronts moving across the land and how where they meet there will be a storm or undesirable weather.  We watch TV shows with storm trackers looking at hurricanes that form over the water and we observe some of the storms gaining strength while others weaken and dissipate.  The atmosphere is in turmoil with itself...there are two or more change agents at work, and in its path, you may find that the skies are dark, rainy, windy and such. When fronts collide or when the storm grows stronger, moving across land, we have storms that may do little harm or we may have tornadoes that destroy homes and take lives. The one thing that happens for certain is that after the storm, the skies could not be more clear.  The atmosphere received a serious scrub down, a heavy duty-wash. Now, things are calm and tranquil.

Such is the same in our lives...even when we do not see the building issues (opposing fronts) in our lives, they are still there.  They may be far off or they may be right around us but still not be "visible" to us. As we feel or see the tension (storm) building, we have to prepare ourselves for whatever situation may arise. As we begin to deal with trials, tests, issues, unrest and the like in our lives, we will question God more than once...more than twice....more than three times....oh you do not? then I will just be honest and say I have....I find myself dealing with situations that I NEVER thought I would have to deal with and more than once I have wanted to just give up.  And even more than that, it is not even just one "storm" it may be a series of small ones...they may vary in the strength of their damage but they are there nonetheless there. As the issues are brought up and dealt with, the storm wears down, and we start to see the clearing of the skies....the end of it all.  Only sometimes we realize that the storm that we just went through took lives.  With an actual storm this happens and it is tragic.  In the "storms"/issues in our lives, people may not lose their lives, but they may be removed from our circle of influence. We may find that there were some who removed because they were no good for us or we were no good for them.  Yes, there will be aftermath from the storm to deal with.  You will have to either completely tear down things that are half standing or rebuild things that were damaged but one thing we will see is that GOD has regulated  the "atmosphere".  He has pushed the reset button.

With all issues we deal with, there will be collateral damage. Sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little, but if we had not gone through those storms,  God would not have been able to stretch us and push our limits of understanding, wisdom, devotion, perseverance, and such.  I find there are some things that I have to pray for EVERY DAY....for God to constantly keep me in the right frame of mind....for me to learn the lesson from my storm....to not go back to things that He removed while I was in the storm. I also have to learn to deal with what is left over after the storm even if it is aftermath from someone else's storm.

In time, after the storm, the days WILL look brighter (even if it is just a small percentage more than the day before).  It may take a long time but it will get better.  We may see that our surroundings are much different but as long as we continue to lean on and learn from the Lord, we will be fine.

As I write this as encouragement to you all....I write it also to encourage myself.  Thank you for all who have kept me in your prayers as I continue to seek God more in the midst of the aftermath of a personal storm.  You all continue to be an encouragement to me while I try to be an encouragement to you. Be blessed!!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Even the Valleys Have a Bottom

Think about it....you're looking at a lush green valley...and there's a river flowing through it. The river winds down the slope and as it flows the lush green gives way to a dark winding current with fallen trees and things lurking in the water. Just like the river flowing in the valley, this more dense area has deep water but there is a riverbottom. The river is not some bottomless pit. I can think of things that I have gone through where I feel like I'm in a valley and I've wondered and thought "God, why me? What did I do to deserve this valley in my life?" While I'm sitting there watching the situation get worse and worse,I feel like the situation is just going to continue to worsen every day. But then I realize, this is a valley I'm in, not a bottomless pit. Things will stop getting worse at some point...So many times we find ourselves dealing with an issue that just drains us mentally, physically, spiritually and we wonder if God is with us in that valley, but we have to remember that if the rivers IN the valleys have a riverbottom, then our situations do have a limit on how much worse they can get.

As we continue on our course, we are shaped by our situation, the good that happens and the bad that happens shapes us to be a different person. We have to pray and seek God's guidance not to just give up, we have to keep doing the right thing and see the value in our valley. Like the saying goes, "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger" The saying never implies that your situation will come out the same at the end but just that if you make it through you will be stronger because of it. Sometimes God takes us through things to show us ourselves, we get down into the tough, turbulent areas of our valley and God shows us what we are made of and what we need to better ourselves in. That is the riverbottom....the lowest point that God takes us to where we realize what we need to do.

In my own time of going through a valley, I'm finding out so many things about myself, areas where I feel stronger in, areas that I don't care for as much as I thought I did....lots of self realization going on... many things about myself that I may not have seen had I not been in this valley. I know that God has something in the works right now, I just need to pray that I am silent enough and obedient to get what I need out of this experience.We all need to remember to take our time in doing what God would have us do and not to act based on emotions but on what God would have us do.

The valley does come to an end....either where the ground slopes back up to where you rise again to a mountain top or to where your river gives way to an ocean, a new frontier in your life...with it's own set of highs and lows....but remember there's no bottomless pits cause even the valleys have a bottom.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Forgiveness and Redemption

Okay, for those of you who may have never read any of my other blogs, this one will actually be a part 2 in sorts to one I originally wrote back in November '09 (posted 4/22/10).  See the link to read it...for those of you who have read it, it's the blog about Forgiveness

So the short recap on forgiveness is that we need to give it, even when we don't want to. It's not for them, it's for ourselves. But after forgiveness it's sketchy. I have faced some of the toughest situations where forgiveness has had to be given and although that was not the hard part (because we're all human and screw up sometimes), redemption is a whole 'nother story.

So "redeem" according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary means: to get or win back, restore or repair.  If we look at this as a starting point, then we will see something important....when you lose something and get it back or have something repaired or restored, it may NOT be the same as it was before whatever happened for you to lose it in the first place. So many times we will be in situations where we do something stupid, careless, or malicious and we will in turn affect the people around us whether it be a great deal or minimally and it's in those times where we may need to be redeemed of what we've done or said.  While we may hope that a complete redemption can be given, we have to face the facts that a full redemption may not be possible. 

I remember an incident between some friends and I where I was a little less than tactful and I ended up hurting a good friend. In the time following that, I had a fall out with other mutual friends who came to the first one's defense.  Well in the long run, it's been about 9 years or so and I have made up with the friend who I offended and we talk often now (which is wonderful) but my relationship has never been the same with the other mutual friends.  Now in that situation there was a full redemption (with the offended) and a partial redemption (with the others).  It may not be what I want it to be, but I have to (and have) accepted that what's done is done. We have to come to that conclusion when we need or ask for redemption, what's done is done and we are at the mercy of the "redemption giver".  We can't EXPECT them to grant us full redemption because it's the "nice thing to do" or because we're their friend, but we have to face the music so to speak and deal with the outcome. We can do or say things to gain back as much as possible, but we must  know that we may not gain back 100%. 

So, what do we do if we are the one to redeem someone else?  After granting forgivness, we have to assess the situation.  We look at all the things that brought about the breach in the relationship (coworker, friendship or otherwise) and we have to look at EVERYTHING.....the qualities of the person, surroundings, how we are tied to the one who offended us, etc.  When there is a partial redemption we can be cordial with folks and get along with them, but we still keep them at a distance because we remember what happened to cause the distance. Now I don't need to hear from the "redemption seekers" that we're still not being fair...just because they apologized and we forgave them.....just because forgiveness is granted it doesn't mean that we always put them back in the proximity to us they were in before.  I have been in situations where I have had to forgive some folks for something and in the same breath let them know that things were not going to be the same anymore. It is not that we keep the offender at a distance because we have a grudge, but because we see or realize that they may not be good for us or are not headed the same direction we are in life.  I've dropped a number of friends for reasons like this...and if you're reading this then obviously you are not one of them...lol

We can reach the point where we forgive but we redeem over time, true redemption is almost never immediate. There may be times where we forgive and we can redeem in a short time....and there are times we can forgive and it takes a long time to restore anything at all. It depends on what the situation is for the main part.  I have found that prayer has been the best policy for me when faced with a serious decision...of how much redemption is adequate...or desired.  At the same time while redemption is being administered, there can be hiccups along the way that sharpen our view of the future....in everything that we do, I believe that when we trust God to take full control that He will give us peace about the level of redemption that we grant to the offender (and also about the direction of our lives going past the offense)...

Well that is all I have for you all tonight...I'll keep the blogs coming......

Be Blessed!!