Friday, May 22, 2009

Are You Part of the Problem?

One day when I was a university student, I called home, distraught over something that at the time seemed monumental. I felt like I couldn’t go on in a new city broke and struggling in my classes. Fully expecting my dad’s compassion, I explained that I was doing all of this for him. Well, needless to say, I was taken by surprise when he said that if I was doing it for him, then maybe I should quit. I cried in anger as I put the phone down. Then, I asked myself some pretty important questions. I had wanted him to blame for the situation I was in, not wanting to accept responsibility for decisions I had made. Sure, he had expectations of me, but I had willingly agreed. This exchange was one of the first times as an adult that I remember doing some serious self-examination and really accepting responsibility for my own actions.

Accountability is a tough topic for many, at least sometimes, and beginning with yours truly. Yet, I have discovered that accepting responsibility for our choices, the consequences and our lives is one very crucial indication of spiritual maturity.
Over the years I’ve seen people who have experienced deep, heartbreaking trials and situations. Some overcome them and many have not. I do have to add that sometimes people have come through situations where they had pain inflicted upon them, no fault of their own. In circumstances like these, it’s remarkable to see how many of these people turn to the Lord and allow Him to transform their lives into something beautiful, truly exchanging beauty for ashes.

However, there are other situations where people make choices, but find every way possible to blame someone else, even God for the consequences of their bad choices. They blame parents, spouses, their children, and God for things that they very well may have been instrumental in bringing into motion.
I am reminded of Gideon questioning God about the problems he and his nation faced. In Judges 6:13, Gideon says, “Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? And where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” However, what Gideon didn’t acknowledge was that the people had brought trials upon themselves when they decided to disobey and disregard God.

We have to be so careful to examine ourselves, especially when problems come. We need to really look to ourselves first so that if we have sinned in some way, we can repent and move forward. Many times, we get stuck in the problem, and unfortunately, some may even rebel or backslide because they’re so deep into how others have caused the problem, never seeing or acknowledging their part.
It’s really interesting raising young children because sometimes they don’t want to accept responsibility for their actions. My husband and I often find ourselves sitting them down, explaining to them the importance of being accountable for their part in the situation. We know that having a foundation rooted in being accountable to God first is one that will carry them a long way.

Romans 14:12 says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” I am reminded that I alone will have to give account for the words I speak, the life I live, the woman, wife, and mother I am. It’s a heavy charge, but we must take responsibility when we are wrong, and we have to remember that we are accountable to God. When we’ve sinned, we should repent and press forward, knowing that we are then forgiven. The consequences may be there to deal with, but what freedom there is when we are able to face our mistakes. It really is so important so that we don’t make the same mistakes again. People who erroneously blame other people for all the wrongs in their life tend to repeat the same mistakes again and again.
On a final note, I feel compelled to address anyone who may have not been responsible for the consequences he or she is dealing with. No matter what has happened to you, trust the Lord to remove the pain, heartache, guilt, and anger. Lay it at Jesus’ feet. He knows and He cares. He doesn’t want you to spend the rest of your life in the shadow of the pain, hurt and anger. Take what’s happened and use what you’ve learned from the experience to glorify God and help somebody else.

So, do you find yourself blaming other people a lot of the time? Can you start looking to yourself first? Drop me a line. . .

Friday, May 1, 2009

How Did You Just Say That?

Lately, things have been so busy, and quite frankly, I've wondered if there's something wrong with my brain since I can't seem to remember to even write things down(lol)! I'm accustomed to committing most things to memory and lately that memory has failed me too many times. Can someone tell me how you forget to put dates in your BlackBerry, forget to check phone messages, or how in the world does someone read the calendar wrong? Well, I'm guilty as charged.

Unfortunately, instead of rising to the scheduling challenges appropriately, I have had times of irritability, frustration, and exhaustion. Heard of that show Snapped? Yesterday my sons were goofing off in the grocery store, and well, never mind. . .

I have realized that compartmentalizing can be so wrong when it comes to spirituality. What do I mean? Let me ask forgiveness for those who may be clueless as to what I'm talking about, but I have an inkling that there may be a few of you who can identify.

I have discovered that while going to church, Bible study, and Sunday school and even doing daily devotions and prayer, I can still sometimes not integrate the spiritual application to my life--especially when the pressure is intense. So, I may say something a little sharp, rationalizing that, "Hey, I'm under a lot of stress!" Bottom line, it's not always what we say, but often, how we say it.

I came across these verses in James 3:13-16. "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness and wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." What struck me here is that our conversation should be good and be a result of our meekness and wisdom that has come from relationship with God.

James 3:17-18 explains, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."

We can have good intentions, but the pressures of life can get our priorities out of order. We may not even say anything wrong, but the problem may be HOW we say it. We have to submit ourselves fully to the Lord because we know that He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Part of the problem with blowing off steam in a negative way, I've come to realize, is because we get an inflated sense of self and pride. What we want and feel we need becomes more important than anything else. We feel frustrated and overwhelmed and simply let go.

Staying humble and surrendering all things to the Lord will give our lives the balance that we need to handle the stress and chaos of everyday life. Consciously integrating and applying the Word into all areas of our lives, especially stressful areas can really expose if we have wisdom that comes from God. The evidence is clear. We sow peace, righteousness, and as the scripture says, we're "easy to be entreated."

So, maybe it's not what you said, but HOW did you say that? Was it with gentleness and did it provoke a peaceful reaction? Drop me a line. . .