So here are two of the verses that I've read recently (and my thoughts that go along with them) that address my complex:
Galatians 1:10 "Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant." Sometimes honesty is unpopular, truth can be taken as judgement. I need to remember it's not about me and being popular, it's about "speaking truth in love" (Eph 4:15), and with gentleness and sincerity. If I'm afraid to share what God is doing in *my* life for fear that others feel judged, I don't trust the Holy Spirit enough!
Ephesians 4:29-30 "Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption" I feel so compelled by this to take the Holy Spirit seriously and that regardless of what people say of my life, handing it to God and letting him glorify himself with it, I won't have to worry that I will be grieving his Spirit. Ignoring the work He does on our behalf and turning it into a self-exalting ego trip is a sure way to grieve His Spirit!
Proverbs 16:2 "All a person's ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord." Regardless of how I feel on a topic, before I say even one single word, I need to speak with my Father, and ask that His Holy Spirit make VERY clear to me when to keep quiet, or how to speak with the grace that he asks me to speak with.
It wasn't long ago that I asked the Father to change my heart. Soften it. Make it not so self-centered. I've been extremely selfish and hard-hearted toward anyone else and their life's story, their pains, their everyday battles. I chose to think mine were more important or difficult, and often interrupted people in order to make myself feel more important, like my story had more value. It took a long time (like, literally my whole life) for me to even recognize this about myself. When God chose to show it to me, it stung but I begged Him to change me. I was a difficult person to love and to be around. I questioned my value to other people and blamed the fact that our lifestyle was different, but in reality, if anyone was put off by me it was because I had a victim mentality and was self-important. Eighteen weeks ago I hurt someone with my thoughtless words and selfish attitude, and I begged Christ to change me. Fifteen weeks ago I shared a C.S. Lewis quote. "Humility isn't thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less". I again begged Christ to change me, He had shown me my ugliness again.
I am so thankful that He has led me into such a profound and beautiful trust of His Spirit. All I did was open my heart up and hand it over to Him. I remember throwing my hands up and crying out "The only way that this is going to change is to let You at it, because I don't even know where to begin".
He has led me so well into a deeper understanding of his Holy Spirit. One of the ways was through a reading plan called "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan. The Holy Spirit was a concept to me. Growing up the extent of it was hearing my mom say "Are you exercising the fruit of the Spirit?" and basically it just felt like an accusatory presence that judged me, more than anything else. I now am so aware of His Spirit, that not a day goes by that I don't thank Him for the power it gives me. It comforts me. Gives me security in trusting His plan. Allows me to see others more as He does. All the "fruits of the Spirit" are within reach only because HIS SPIRIT is LITERALLY within my body. WHAT. It blows my mind every single day. I didn't know before how to make myself love someone, in an active way. I didn't know how to be truly kind. I had the desire to, but was completely clueless. So The Holy Spirit not only educates me on that daily, having Him within gives my body the power it needs to do *fully and completely* what He wills me to do. And now that brings me to the thoughts I was thinking that led me to even write this...
I never thought of myself as a high-stress person. I thought it was legitimate to feel so fiercely about getting things done and making sure others put in their time to make sure things got done for my comfort or the good of the household.
Usually it was Drew who saw this part of me. Maybe we were having someone over. Maybe going on a trip. Maybe planning a party. I can't number the times I worked so angrily, or muttered things through tears because I *knew* that if *he* would get it together and just help, and not doing the stuff I felt wasn't important (somehow he was supposed to know that cleaning floors is more urgent that picking up toys in the playroom?!), etc. then we would get it all done and I could be at peace. He would always tell me "you really stress out about this, it's not as big a mess and as bad a situation as it seems to you because right now everything seems huge in your mind". I'm not sure this minimizing of my assessment was helpful or not, but I do see now that he was absolutely right. I just thought I was right to be upset and the huge list really was so huge and the time so short. (what I was clueless of at the time was, that, the higher my anxiety level, the fuzzier my connection with the Spirit. The more I complain to other people about what's wrong with them, the less ear they have to give to the Holy Spirit!! I'm just shooting myself in the foot all the way around.)
Fast forward to a couple weekends ago. Like I said, God has changed my heart in a lot of ways, but this wasn't one of the ones I pointedly asked for help in, because I honestly didn't see myself as a stressed-out person. I thought I was relaxed because I let my kids play freely without worrying nonstop, let them learn through their mistakes. Ha. That may have been, but God showed me a couple weeks ago that I was, indeed, a worrier.
Matthew 6:27 & 34 "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."
While I was getting things ready for Drew's competition a couple weekends ago, I made a list of stuff to do. A few of my friends are great at that, and I thought it might give me a chance at not forgetting something. :) Moving through the day on Friday, not having packed a stitch of clothes for me or the kids, God gifted me the most wonderful peace, through the Holy Spirit. I couldn't figure out why I wasn't rushing or feeling overwhelmed because I had wanted to have everything done before Drew came home, and even knowing it wouldn't be, my brain didn't go into overdrive analyzing the massive pile of "undone" and freaking out. It just wouldn't. The only way I can describe it was a thankfulness for the time given to me to do what I needed to do, and a complete rest that all that truly *needed* to be done, would be done. I hadn't been lazy, I had been diligent, I just had a pretty long list. Yet that list just wouldn't crash through my brain like a freight train and push me over the edge like it literally *always* had done before. As I moved, I wondered about it, but thanked God over and over because I knew what my tendency was and I was so thankful He had given me the gift of peace over it.
All throughout the weekend, I had experiences that reminded me of this. When my keys were locked in the car, I didn't freak out, I knew there was a good reason and a plan for my day, and forcing it one way or another won't change it, it just doesn't allow the presence of peace.
Now it's a daily thing, thanking God for this gift, His Spirit. The power in it is incredible, and knowing He's taking care of even the most minor details relieves me. That peace and thankfulness that comes from knowing I'm not the one planning my day, and that he gives me the time, strength and power to fulfill it. So profound.
I know I've been changed. Like I said, 15 weeks. That seems like a long time, but if you knew how dark and ugly I've been, but how lovely it is to see Christ change it, you would know that fifteen weeks has been the most beautiful and exciting time of my life. Hearing others give me witness to the fact that I seem so much more caring and loving, is just another reason to praise Him for using my awful self to glorify Himself and his transformative power!!!
The concept of living to please the Spirit has never before been grasped by me. It's always been about forcing myself into a mold of tradition. When this verse FINALLY got real to me, I realized this: You don't do good things for others in order to get them to return the favor or to feel good about yourself. You don't love on others only when they choose to love on you back. You don't include others or be kind to only others who include you or be kind. You don't acknowledge only those who acknowledge you. You continue to allow the Holy Spirit to lead you into acts of love and kindness even when you are fully aware that it will go unnoticed and unproclaimed. He gives us opportunities to love on each other. Living to please the Spirit is about listening, waiting, watching, and acting on those opportunities. That's what it means to store your treasures in heaven.
Galatians 6:8-10 "Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So lets not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone--especially to those in the family of faith.
Here's a caption I put under a verse I shared a few weeks ago. It really summarizes the heart behind this post and all my thoughts. I'm falling more in love with my Father, My GOD, my SAVIOR. And that is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.
"My speech is completely lacking in Grace; my heart is really just so selfish and ugly. But right now, I trust the Holy Spirit that chooses to live in it, to reside in this body, to transform that heart and purify it. The King is becoming my friend--not because I'm worthy but because He desires my heart, loves me, changes me. And the one thing I can do is enjoy Him and the glory that comes to Him when this transformation happens."
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:12 NIV)
(I feel the need to share this verse and an example of my heart still needing much work. Last week Drew was supposed to come home to stay with the kids so I could go out with some friends, and I mistakenly allowed myself to believe that the delay in his arrival home was wrong and shouldn't have been that way. I was very late, and I had a horrible attitude. I forgot that this situation, too, was in HI s hands and the only thing I needed to do was let go. But my selfishness and plans like to assume their importance over God's will and timing. Nothing new there. Just an opportunity to remember I continue to fail unless I trust the Spirit.)