Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Burning and Smoking

So let me continue filling in the gaps from last year...
February through May of 2012, I was fully believing so many subtly twisted lies.  I was proud of myself for sticking it out in BSF even though life was difficult.  I was pleased that they had even asked me to serve in leadership at the time, which God led me to prayerfully decline. (Thank you Lord.)  I was putting on a false front of spirituality that looking back now, makes me want to vomit.

Because the truth was, Joey and I literally fought every weekend he was home once he started traveling.  I was jealous that his dream was a reality and mine appeared to be slipping into obscurity. (Again, subtly twisted lies.)
I was angry and prideful and hurt by my own thoughts and mistruths.
I took my own self-cation during this time.
In my mind, I was having all kinds of conversations with myself that I had no business having, daydreaming up scenarios of conversations that never happened and never needed to happen!
I was spiritually bi-polar.  One moment sobbing at the feet of God, begging for forgiveness, and in the very next breath, I would ignore the Holy Spirit's prodding completely, blatantly choosing my own way because I'm a child of God. I know the right things to do.  I never told God I didn't need Him with my words, but I sure as heck told Him with my actions.

I've mentioned before that when you step out of the presence of God, you step fully into the presence of self--your flesh, this world, the devil.  So then, the challenge is to STAY in the presence of God.  This has not proven easy.

This is why we war (Ephesians 6:12).  I am not my own.  I was bought with a steep price--the blood of the Son of God Himself (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  I am His, yet I still have to live in this world as an alien, a stranger, as holy and set apart (1 Peter 2:9-12).  This is not easy, so the battle rages every day.

I am more and more convinced that the physical trials of life take their toll on us, but it is the quiet, daily battles in the mind that determine if we live life in victory, freedom, and joy.

It's the inner conversations we have like:
"Wow. That was really edifying to the kingdom of God."  "That was a wise decision; good thing I made that choice."  "Hmm.  Glad that worked out the way I planned."  "I wish other people could see things the way God shows them to me.  Then they wouldn't have that issue." (Ummm---hello, PRIDE.)
"I don't want to go read my Bible.  I'm tired.  The kids are resting.  I just want to veg on the couch and watch Grey's Anatomy on Hulu.  I know.  I will basically be wasting two hours of my day, but I'm just so tired.  Maybe just one episode, then I'll catch up on my Bible study.  God understands.  He knows I'm tired.  He extends grace, so I should take it."  (Um, SLOTH and RATIONALIZATION)  (Side Note: I'm not saying there's not room for actual grace we need to give ourselves in life, but every, single, day?  Come on people.  We all know when it's right and when it's wrong.)
"Look at your prideful self!  Who in the heck do you think you are?  You are no one special.  Pride goes before a fall, and no man wants a fallen leader.  You are definitely NOT a leader.  Too prideful.  Too useless. Too worthless.  What you do here in this house really has no impact outside this home anyway.  Just give up. Do nothing." (LIES!!!!!!)

And there it is: Do Nothing.  The inevitable nail on the coffin.  The final phrase that satan hopes will stalemate me and keep me from doing anything at all for Christ.  My thorn in the flesh?  A deep inner war of conversations in my head that I am constantly battling.

And some time in May 2012, those tires I mentioned in my last post?  They were spinning so hard in neutral from all the "doing nothing" that the rubber was beginning to smoke.  God helped me realize that is all I really was--a bunch of burning rubber and smoke.  I wasn't going anywhere, I wasn't accomplishing anything because I was trying to do it on my own, without putting my engine in drive.

(Did you know that when you become a Christian God gives you a whole new engine?  A whole new motor of motivation?  Problem is, we keep the hood closed all the time.  We forget that He's under there waiting to drive us to new places in life.  We keep our life parked in neutral because that's safe and comfortable and what we know best. Anyways...I digress...)

For some unknown reason, only God knows I'm sure, in one of my spiritual bi-polar moments, God got my attention long enough to truly pray a prayer that I am now convinced is way, WAY more dangerous than praying for patience.
Smelling the stench of my prideful smoke and burning rubber of a life, I prayed and begged God in all sincerity to humble me.
To rid me of all the things I think I know.  To sift me and remove all the pride from my life.  To teach me what it means to be humble.  Truly humble.  To help me understand.  To see life through the humble eyes of Christ.

Yes, I prayed that prayer.

Why?  Because Satan wins when I end on the "do nothing" thought.  God wins when I lose myself in Him.  When I fall on my face in tears of helpless confession, hopelessly abandoned to accept His grace, drowning in His love for me and how much I truly, deeply love Him in return.  When I am nothing, and He is everything in me, then HE WINS.  So there can be nothing of myself.  Nothing.  And self is pride, not humility.  I needed to be humbled.

How do you do this?  How do you become nothing and let Christ be everything?  Faith, trust, belief, grace, love, humility?  That's a long list of things I can't touch.  I can't wrap my hands around them, so I try to wrap my mind around them, but even that is useless because intimately knowing what these things ARE doesn't mean I know HOW to live them.  Oh, it gives me a good head start, a foundation to build from, but to live them?  To live them....

Sigh.  That's another blog for another day, maybe for all the days of the rest of my life, yet isn't that why we have hope?  Doesn't striving for the unknown give us purpose?  Doesn't reaching for God make Him all that more desirable?  Not to be like Him--no, I don't want that job, but to be WITH Him.  If having faith, trusting, believing, accepting grace, loving, and humbling myself allows me to be with Him, in step with Him, walking beside Him, then I guess it's worth figuring out.  So that's what I'll keep doing.  I'll keep trying to figure out how to live them--how to be with Him.

So what happens when you pray for God to humble you? Oh my friend.  I will tell you.....
But for today, I leave you with this thought:
In what ways are you a prideful Christian or person for that matter?  You might be in ways you never considered.  Subtle ways that fly under the radar and go dismissed because we don't stop to think how often we are offenders--or worse, we don't/can't admit that we are this way.  Can you relate to any of the following:
1) Having a strong desire to do my will than God's will.
2) Leaning too much on my own understanding and experience rather than seeking God's guidance through prayer and His Word.
3) Relying on my own strengths and abilities rather than depending on the power of the Holy Spirit.
4) Being more concerned about controlling others than in developing self-control.
5) Often being too busy doing "important" things to take time to do little things for others.
6) Having a tendency to think that I have no needs.
7) Finding it hard to admit when I'm wrong.
8) Being more concerned about pleasing people than pleasing God.
9) Being concerned about getting the credit I feel I deserve.
10) Thinking I am more humble, spiritual, religious or devoted than others.
11) Being driven to obtain recognition by attaining degrees, titles, or positions.
12) Often feeling that my needs are more important than another's needs.
13) Considering myself better than others because of my academic, artistic, or athletic abilities or accomplishments.

Be honest.  I had to.  I had to look at this list because I was in the bottom of a pit and the only way out was the thin rope of confession and repentance.  I had to put a check mark by each of these in my book.  I had to gulp and swallow so much pride; it physically made me ill.

If you were to take up the discipline of capturing your thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5), how many of them would fall into one of these categories...if only for a moment?

Remember it only took a moment for satan to twist God's words in Eve's mind.

I don't typically like to end on a low note, but see this is my story, and 2012 took me to a very low place where I think so many of my friends and fellow moms in particular find themselves too often.  You can't at least attempt to avoid failing again unless you can try to understand where you veered off the path in the first place.

Subtly twisted lies kept me in neutral while my prideful self kept my wheels spinning faster and faster and faster. Do more.  Be more.  Figure it out.  Push through. God is for you.  Who can be against you?  Never occurred to me that me, myself, and I could be the one I was up against.  It was only a matter of time. Burnout was inevitable.

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....Smile.  God still loves me, and you too!