Thursday, February 18, 2010

Right Path or Just Going Through the Motions?

Did you ever think you were on the right track, finally going the direction you should be going only to watch as the road seemingly turned to dust? The path you thought was so true and right all of a sudden seemed bumpy and unmanageable.

Several things have made this pretty crisp to me lately. I have to step back and ask if the path I am taking is my path, my choices. Have I consulted God to see if this was the proper path? Did I even consider His plans? Did I make undue assumptions? (Because, I'm great at assuming things.)

Proverbs 16 is filled with many reminders. Verse 1 tells us that we can make our own plans, but God will always have the right answers. Verse 9 tells us that we make our own plans, but the Lord will determine our steps. Am I following the path that I believe is right, but that only ends in death? God has a way of pulling us back sometimes when we have reached the brink of disaster. Verse 3 reminds me that if I just commit my actions to the Lord my plans will succeed. I thought I was doing that. But, have I really? I have to beg the question of whether I have just gone through the motions.

This morning, I received a devotion that suggested that reading your Bible should not just be on your checklist of things to do that day. The writer suggested that we stop reading our Bible...not in a literal sense, but to stop just reading it to check off another "I did all my Christian activities". She encourages instead that we read as if we are talking to God, pick out a verse that speaks to us and read it over and over, and finally find a way to act upon it. It follows the "READ, CHEW, DO" that we are learning in 56 at LCBC. What verse leaps off the page? How can I apply it to my life? But the thing I had missed was not grabbing my Bible and sitting down at the table to run through the motions and underline a few words. What I've failed to do is about taking a few moments BEFORE reading to just pray from my gut that God will speak to me, admitting that I don't understand and that I feel my path straying.

In the end, it is about loving myself. If I don't truly love myself, I can't expect others to either. It is about forgiving myself for the wrongs that have committed...God has, why can't I? It is about baby steps toward the right direction and visibly noting those little improvements. And, most of all it is about knowing there will occassionaly be lows, but celebrating the highs and constantly striving to connect on a deeper level.

My action item (and maybe yours): Time to stop zombie walking and going through the motions and inject some "caffeine" into your relationships and become active in them, including your relationship with Christ.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

And the Loser is Stubborn

Are you a stubborn person? I am. I’m not proud to admit it, but the reality is that I am that person. The one who likes to win the game, the race, the fight, the whatever. Somehow it feels good to win, right? For that instant, you are on top of your game – winner of your world.

But, at what cost did you win? Did you say hurtful things to win? Did you cheat? Did you lie? Did you purposefully behave in a less than likeable way to avoid admitting that winning is not everything? And now that you realize it, can you take back those actions, words, or lack of action?

I suspect we are all guilty of all of the above at some point or another.
For me, it is not about cheating or lying. For me, it is often about saying or doing hurtful things that seem to make me feel better at the time. Or, avoiding bringing a conflict to an end because I choose not to be the first to say “I’m sorry”. Even as I type this I feel childish. But, the reality is that it is SO easy for me to do this as a way to somehow validate my feelings.

I have to wonder in the moments of clarity where God was in my thought process. How did I somehow make ME bigger than Him and His love? How did I forget that love conquers all and selfish, childish behavior reaps more selfish, childish behavior that eventually leads to lonliness. As you know, sinful nature costs us. We all pay for our sins. In prolonging any dispute, I’m sinning. The longer I prolong it, the more costly to me and those around me. Why? Because I’m prolonging the love that I could be showing. I’m missing moments that are so precious and memories that could be formed….all because I choose to be stubborn. Also, life could be over tomorrow. Would they know how much I cared or just know that I was frustrated?
In the quiet of my drives to work, I realize that I am blessed beyond anything I could have imagined. I am truly thankful for all that I have and appreciate it. But, when my car arrives in the driveway, life seems to smack me in the face and somehow that appreciation floats from my consciousness. I’m working on creative ways to put the appreciation at the forefront and give my selfishness, childishness, and stubbornness a backseat for awhile-they’ve ruled long enough.

Some thoughts for how one would do such a thing? I’m not sure what works for you. My thought would be to remind myself prior to walking in the door that I love my life and I am blessed. A mantra was given to me recently “God is WITH you and God is FOR you.” Maybe the same could be said about those family members. “I am WITH you and I am FOR you.” Maybe it is more about actually telling them? I’m thinking a nicely written letter, explaining the reasons for my appreciation and eventually a verbalization of those sentiments. Baby steps.