Archive | February 2014

Oh Pity, Party of One?

I just can’t do this anymore!

Why does it even matter? 

I’m just going to accept the fact that this is how things will always be.

There are more important things to worry about anyway.

woman-frustrated

Nobody said sacrifice would be easy, and let’s face it: when it comes to serving Christ, there are moments of sacrifice.  After all, Jesus Himself talked about the importance of sacrifice in the New Testament:

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me’.” Matthew 16:24, NASB.

To be fair, He also promised (and still promises!) to care for us along this journey toward Heaven:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28, NASB.

So why is it that we get so FRUSTRATED at times when it comes to sacrificial living?  For some, this may mean giving more time to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the community.  For others, this may mean redirecting our finances to include tithes, gifts and offerings.  And then there are those day in and day out situations in which we need to honor God (yes, He really does care about every single part of our lives) — how we spend our time each day, what we choose to consume with our eyes and with our mouths, what we feed our souls and our stomachs, the words that we speak, the habits to which we cling.

YES, God’s grace does cover our sins when we accept the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus.  And YES, Jesus did say,

“It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” Matthew 15:11, NASB.

Absolutely, we must be more concerned with our souls than with what we eat!  Yet if what we eat is causing us harm, if we are choosing to seek comfort or happiness in anything other than Christ, then we must rethink our decisions!  We learn from Paul that,

“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” 1 Corinthians 10:23, NASB.

So again, when trying to live this life of obedience in ALL areas in order to be closer to God, to honor Him, and to live in the center of His will rather than my own, why is it that I can find myself in the midst of my own little pity party?  Because I am trying to do this on my own.  I’ve seen quite clearly that on those days when I spend time with God in prayer and in His word, when I reach out to Him for guidance, for comfort, for happiness, I do not struggle with obedience.  However, on days when “I’ve got this,” there are moments in the grocery store bakery section when I want to cry.  That may sound ridiculous when compared to “real” problems in this world (um, see my “excuses” above), but the journey of saying “yes” to God in all things starts within one’s own heart.  And if my heart is divided rather than completely lost in Jesus, well, I’m less likely to serve Him as He would like in other areas.

My pity party is evidenced by my defeated spirit.  By an overwhelming desire to just quit.  By my angry disposition that often shows its ugly head in short remarks to my family.  By my inability to handle stress. By the tears that come too easily over seemingly nothing.  I begin to listen to Satan’s lies instead of God’s truths.  [I love what Lysa TerKeurst says in her book Made to Crave: “Isn’t it just like Satan to make us think we have to have something to comfort us, fill us, satisfy us, only to be haunted by the consequences of this comfort later?” (TerKeurst, 2010, p. 110).]  And when I stop to wonder why I’m feeling this way, God’s Holy Spirit nudges my heart, and I am reminded of His promises again:

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7, NASB.

And again:

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13, NASB.

And yet again:

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4, NASB.

There is no need for the pity party!  Those things that seem so overwhelming in our lives are in HIS hands; we need only to cling to Him instead of to those things that bind us!  Praise God!

In closing, I am currently reading a book as part of my studies in Psychology and Christian Counseling. While writing this blog, a paragraph from the book Effective Biblical Counseling by Larry Crabb came to mind.  I would like to share it with you:

“It must be stressed that obedience does not automatically follow from correct understanding. Remember, I said that our perceptions determine the range of options we can choose.  The will is a real part of the human personality with the function of responsibly choosing to behave consistently with how the Bible teaches us to evaluate our world.  And such choices are not always easy.  It often involved teeth-gritting effort to choose to behave as we should.  It is important to choose to do what is right moment by moment.  Apart from the clear exercise of the will, there will be no consistent obedience.  As the Christian continues to choose the path of righteousness, his capacity for right choices in the face of adversity and temptation enlarges.  He becomes a stronger Christian, one whom God can trust with greater responsibilities” (Crabb, 1977, p. 102).

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The Truth About My Body Image

I’ve been married three times, and it’s only been through a recent Bible study (Made to Crave) and God’s revelation that I’ve come to realize how much my body image affected my past relationships.  (I will note that like the author, Lysa TerKerust, I am very thankful for a husband who loves me JUST AS I AM, “tankles and all”!)  I married my first husband a year out of high school.  We were young, we were naive, and I’ve only just recently accepted that although the mistakes I made in that marriage were my choices and my responsibility, his addiction to pornography fed into the lies about myself – and caused me to seek affection and acceptance elsewhere.  I was overweight when I met my second husband (who was a total rebound and ours was a relationship that was based on nothing but lust – and when that dies, so does the marriage), and I was so happy that he wanted a “curvy” girl.  A few years into our marriage, I lost 50 lbs. and by society’s standards (and his), I looked great.  Most people confused me for my daughters’ sister instead of their mom.  Ego boost.  But the diet pills and restrictive dieting and obsessive exercise couldn’t last forever, and after a bought of depression, I gained it all back.  And then some.  And then some more.  Over time, I went from being 5’1″ and 125 lbs. to over 200.  There are many deeper, darker problems we had that I won’t go into, but what killed me was when my husband told me he was no longer attracted to me.  That pushed me to do what?  Eat more.  I topped the scales at 221 just before I left him.

After my divorce, I got back to church, I went to a Christian support group, and I ran back into the arms of Jesus.  I was saved at 13 and spent my teenage and part of my first marriage trying to serve Him, but I pushed Him away to find happiness in areas that left me empty.  However, He never left me.  He was calling me to come back to Him.  I did, and later I met the man who I cherish now as my husband.  He loves me unconditionally, something that has been an adjustment after feeling like my worth was tied to my appearance, whether that was true or not!  Sadly, there are (too many) times that Steve has had to hear the self-destructive lies that still float around in my head, and he does his best to remind me of how beautiful I am. He often says, “I wish you could see yourself through my eyes.”

HOW MANY TIMES DOES GOD SAY THAT TO US??  “I wish you could see yourself through my eyes.”

psalm139

I’m not sure I can come up with a reason for why God made me the way He did – but Psalm 139 says I was fearfully and WONDERFULLY made.  I must trust – and find my beauty – in Him.

Why Am I Really Doing This?

Yesterday marked the final day of a 26-day Daniel fast that a friend and I journeyed together. God taught me so much about myself during this time. He revealed the ugliness inside that was masked my letting food be my comfort. He revealed what can be done when I lean on Him instead. Last night, I prayed because I could feel Satan’s lies all around me. Everything from “this discipline won’t last” to “now you can eat what you want.” There was even a “YOU did this, hey, great job!” I’ve tried hard to point others to the victory in Jesus through it all, because I know this was only accomplished through Him. I had to find something more worthy than a lower number on the scale, my health, my family, and feeling or looking better. None of those motivators gave me the strength to keep going before. Only the desire to honor and obey God this past month did! Something very important went through my mind during this fast: “what if I have taken this journey, and what if I continue in obedience to God and His will, and the number on the scale never moves?” Ouch. I realize that won’t be the case, but it brings me back to the reason for everything. Jesus. Laying my life at His feet can’t be about successes in my life. It has to be because I love Him and desire to be His child every single day.

jesus love

SO … after writing this, I got on the scale to see just how much more I had lost since I got on 9 days ago. (Up to that point, I’d lost … interestingly enough … 9 lbs. total since Jan. 6th.) With baited breath, I stepped on. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I am the same weight today as I was 9 days ago. My heart sank a little. And then the words of my post came back to me. “What if I have taken this journey … and the number on the scale never moves?” I felt God’s hand upon my heart. What was the true reason behind my fast? Was it to lose weight, or was it to draw closer to Him? I was completely humbled.

As I move forward in 2014, yes, it is important that I develop better eating and exercise habits. It is more important – even crucial – that I am drawing closer to God and honoring Him as I lay every part of my body and soul at His feet.