Tag Archive | choices

Moving forward….

2014

As the end of 2014 comes to a close my thoughts get reflective. Although I am not one to write New Years Resolutions (I gave that up years ago because usually by the end of the first week I have failed to keep them)  I do choose however to reflect on the past year and then ask the Lord for a word or Scripture for the new year and our journey ahead.

Sometimes I get a word, and sometimes I get a thought or a sense of direction Him.

As I’ve been contemplative these last few days I came across these words by Emily P. Freeman and wrote them in my journal:

“Hope isn’t about knowing how things will come about. Hope is about envisioning the future and choosing to enjoy that now. Hope is really about rest. Resting in the imperfections of today because you believe that tomorrow there is possibility. Sometimes the hope isn’t for the change as much is it is for the change in me.”

Hope

HOPE. Yes. This.

The most revolutionary thing I can do is choose to see the fullness instead of the lack, no matter where life has me. 

It was in the early morning, when light was making its way to the horizon and as my husband poured me a cup of steaming coffee, that I came across these words from Ann Voskamp.  I had just been pondering the highlights and the not so great highlights of the past year when I read her words.

Please take the time to read Ann’s blog entry…..

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/12/how-to-step-forward-into-the-new-year-when-you-want-a-do-over-on-the-last-year/#

When I finished reading and as the tears formed in the corner of my eyes and made their way silently down my face I knew God was in this (thank you Ann)….I knew He was speaking….words my heart needed to hear…..there amid the many words was one word my soul needed, no, make that longed to hear….”forward”…..I needed to fall forward….to move forward….

forward9

As Ann said: The moving forward always happens in this relief that all our guilt is covered by His grace. What sweet relief to hear that my New Year doesn’t need to-do lists like it needs to-God-be-the-glory lists! YES!!!

To know that my weaknesses, failures, and sins are the places where I am learning that I need grace too. It is there, in those dark mercies, that God teaches me to be humbly dependent. It is there that He draws near to me and sweetly reveals His grace. Paul’s suffering (2 Corinthians 12:7) teaches me to reinterpret my thorn. Instead of seeing it as a curse, perhaps I can see it as the very thing that keeps me”pinned close to the Lord.”
And my heart, like Ann writes, is to keep beating its brave yes to that one invitation:
Forward!

forward 5I believe that this thought of a New Year and a new start is God-given, it resonates in the human soul doesn’t it?
It’s true, we know instinctively that the beginning of a new year is not only a great time to reconsider our goals and priorities, but to recognize our own sins and follies as well. When life becomes too much of my own self-reliance, turning my heart toward the new year proves pivotal, it becomes a time to understand my very real need for divine grace.
What I am talking about is much more than New Year’s resolutions. Because truly, the language of resolutions is, in a way, humanistic. It assumes that the only thing I need to do is make a few better choices this year and I will be fine.

Rather, what I am talking about as I look back at the past year is the need for true heartfelt repentance and the need for a new heart that deeply desires to make better choices….a heart fully surrendered to Jesus Christ….a heart that accepts His grace for my failings to love….my failings to speak with both grace and truth….a heart that accepts His forgiveness and love…..a heart that responds….a heart that desires to move forward despite at times wanting to withhold, to hide or to run away.
“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining FORWARD to what lies ahead…I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
~Phil. 3:13-14

Forward8

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Choices!

Back in July I wrote about going to see my spiritual counselor and what God showed me at that time. I also mentioned that my counselor made a second observation and I would share it in the next post, well, I didn’t….because honestly, I was truly grappling with it. I didn’t like her suggestion or observation. I didn’t want to look at it and to some degree I am still wrestling with it.

What she shared with me was the Serenity Prayer; the first part of it. If you are familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous then you have encountered the Serenity Prayer. The prayer has worked its way into so many cultural outlets that many non-Christians know it, or at least the beginning, by heart:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.serenity 1

The rest of the prayer goes like this:

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

I admit I reacted to her strongly because deep down I was truly afraid to accept the things I could not change and feared I didn’t have the courage to change what I could…..and would I really know the difference??

Why did I struggle to “accept” things? Because I believed that accepting something was laziness. I was afraid that accepting that there are some things I could not change would make me complacent. But slowly (very slowly) I am beginning to realize instead that acceptance constitutes a leap of faith — an ability to trust, as the prayer goes on to say, “that He [God] will make all things right if I surrender to His Will.” I then make the choice to let go and have faith in the outcome.

acceptance

Accepting or surrendering takes courage…..for me the word “surrender” like acceptance, had mostly negative connotations. I associated it with resignation, failure and weakness. But the Serenity Prayer reframes the notion of surrender as an act of faith and trust. The wisdom of the prayer lies in exchanging a life of endless “what ifs” for a life of trust in powers beyond ourselves. That changes my perspective!

Another thing I am coming to realize is that acceptance takes courage, it takes courage to change ourselves. And I didn’t want to be courageous anymore, it was too much work.

One of life’s greatest challenges is imagining how our lives could be different than they are now. Often, my own deeply-ingrained habits are my own worst enemies, and simply identifying them is half the battle. Since habits gain power through repetition, it takes real focus and perspective to take a look at ourselves and our habits and ask, “Is this how I really want to live?” As the prayer states, this act of self-investigation is nothing less than an act of “courage.”

And in my mind it also meant that I must accept “hardships as the pathway to peace.” What??? I didn’t want hardship, I wanted easy, painless even!!
Yet, every person confronts obstacles in the course of his or her life. Yet, it’s what I do with these obstacles. Do I view them as frustrations or failures, or as opportunities for growth and learning? If I choose the latter then I can transcend my circumstances.
courage
Accepting what I don’t like may be one of the most difficult aspects of life, because there will be people, situations, and events I don’t like and I am not able to change.

Yet, it is true, acceptance is not the same as resignation or passivity. I can continue to push forward despite accepting that there are things beyond my control. It is not passive when I lean into and trust God with my life, situations and relationships. It is not passive when I seek His wisdom and ask for His supernatural courage. It doesn’t take resignation it takes strength, perseverance, faith and trust.

Please understand what I am not saying….if you are in an abusive relationship or have been abused, I am not saying that you should just accept what is happening or what happened. I am not talking about abuse. I am talking about situations and circumstances that affect us and that we feel we have no control over, maybe in our workplace, our marriage or our relationships.
It truly takes supernatural wisdom to know the difference of what we can or cannot change.

serenity-quotes-7

As you can see I am still chewing on this, wrestling with it and walking this out…..to be continued!

What about you? How do you see “acceptance” or “surrender”?

Coming out of the dark….

 

There is an old adage that says: Healing takes time.  And although I don’t know your particular wounds or the circumstances that caused them, or your personal struggles or the pain and hurt that caused you to retreat, I do know this: Our God Heals!! Our God Redeems, Our God Restores, Our God makes all things new…..He simply asks us to CHOOSE His Healing and then surrender to His process. It sounds scary doesn’t it!

 But we need not fear His process. And as much as we want instant healing, or a simple ten step process, I have found it doesn’t work that way. Getting our lives back takes time, more time than you may have hoped.

Maybe you are like I was years ago when faced with the choice to heal. Instead of taking the necessary steps to heal, to move towards growth, I kept playing the same old lines in my mind: Maybe later…but you don’t know my life….I’m too overwhelmed….it will be too hard….what if it doesn’t work….what if its too much…..on and on the excuses went.

Until I came to the day when I realized that these types of thoughts had already stolen so much of my life….I simply went through the day not really living….I finally reached that place where I refused to live the rest of my life in the prison I had built around my heart. I have learned that we begin to believe what we focus on whether it’s true or not. Take for instance my fear of abandonment. When I personally focus on abandonment in my relationships and in my life then I begin to live as though I am worthy only of abandonment. I have come to believe what I focus on.

This is exactly what the enemy of our souls, Satan, wants us to believe….he comes to steal our dreams, our joy and our confidence. If we continually allow this mental garbage to fill our minds it will continue to take us down and keep us there….he is the father of lies.

And, if we continually live believing these lies, our mistaken beliefs will actually limit and frustrate the work of God in our lives.

What focus have you allowed to become a negative, limiting belief? What mind games is the enemy playing with you? You will never be loved? Never be free? Never be healed? Never have joy? Never have confidence? The list can go on and on…..

The only way our focus will begin to change is when we begin to focus on the truth of God. All too often we stand on the sidelines of life believing the lies we’ve heard all our lives, focusing on every imperfection and limitation….but God says: I am so in love with you, I gave you life. You can do anything inside the strength of my love. You are worthy. You are capable; I have given you gifts that only you have. You are beautiful. You are my daughter.

Until we decide to change our focus, our beliefs will never change.

You cannot continue telling yourself the same story, the same lines….if you do then nothing will change….This is the day…. Carpe diem-Seize the Day….make the decision to come to Jesus and change your focus….

Oswald Chambers wrote: If you want to know how real you are, test yourself by these words- “Come unto me” In every degree in which you are not real, you will dispute rather than come, you will quibble rather than come, you will go through sorrow rather than come, and you will do anything rather than come the last lap of unutterable foolishness—“Just as I am”

 I know you can do this….because I know the power of God to make it so!!!