Overwhelmed?

Man, what a whirlwind life I seem to be living! For this season I feel like I am in a constant head-above-water battle, but I know that as all things do, this too shall pass. Since writing last I have experienced emotions of sheer joy, relief, anxiety, worry, anticipation, and happiness.

Over the span of 3 months Aaron and I have reunited with estranged family members, got engaged, got in a wreck and totaled his truck, watched our dog have puppies, began the planning for remodeling our future home, dealt with the looming threat of me being unable to have children, and been involved in court proceedings to help ensure our niece remains in a thriving environment. Put that on top of me personally playing the piano at church every week, about to finish grad school in a few weeks, beginning my internship, maintaining my “real” job, planning a wedding, helping friends with babies and showers and moving…

It’s a lot. And I will admit, while I am living it, it seems like normal because it is my life. But writing it all down, no wonder I feel tired in the mornings!

I often wonder why I don’t feel overwhelmed. Tired, extremely, but rarely overwhelmed.

I truly believe that my main source of strength and perseverance comes from God. Aaron and I have been reading Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. We are truly living our life, the best we can, according to God’s Word. And it’s showing throughout our lives. As Perry Noble says, “As our view of God increases, our worry and stress decrease, because it’s only then that we begin to believe that all the things that are over our heads are under His feet.”

Perry Noble also points out some key ways of thinking that create such overwhelming feelings. I’ll outline some for you here.

Thinking you are in control. I don’t believe there is ever a time that God laughs harder at you than when you kid yourself into thinking you have complete control over your life and the things around you. It says in Proverbs 19:21 “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”

Thinking things are totally out of your control. If you are a Christian, and you were born after Christ died on the cross, you have the Holy Spirit living inside you. This Spirit could be characterized as many things such as your conscience or the angel on your shoulder but ultimately, it is God inside your body giving you the power of discernment and courage to overcome trials of the world. The Bible says in 1 John 4:4, “You belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” We have the power to relax and let go of our worldly troubles if we just choose to do so!

Expecting to live an easy life surrounded by good people. Because we live in a fallen world, the world is full of fallen people. We are not much unlike these people, as we all sin every day. However, even if we surround ourselves with people who are only good, Christians and go to church every time the doors open and pray religiously….the world around us is still fallen, and we are guaranteed to feel the effects. Perry Noble says, “When we meet Christ, we are saved from the penalty of sin, but we do not escape the effects of sin – whether that’s our own or other people’s sin or simply the broken world we live in.” No matter how good we try to be, we will still feel the backlash effects of sin.

Expecting to have the energy and time to do it all. I once heard a professor say, “The Bible calls those who will not work lazy, but it calls those who will not rest disobedient.” Wow. Self-care is truly important. In your profession and your personal life. There is no way one person can do everything there is to do. We must learn to let go of some things and delegate them to others.

Accepting sin as a way of life. Now I am just as guilty of this as the next person, but it’s true. We are contributing to our negative feelings by not omitting the sin in our life and just dismissing it. Perry Noble says, “In today’s culture, the temptation is to look at sins and refer to them as issues, mistakes, or problems. And as long as we see sin as something that we need to learn to cope with rather than something that needs to be removed, we will never take the cation necessary to peel the cap off the bottle so we can be spiritually refreshed.” He makes a good and valid point. Some things we are unwilling and reluctant to give up, but we may be amazed at how much more at peace we would be if we did so.

We refuse to forgive others. Another hard one. Maybe the hardest. I’m a grudge-holder by nature. But what I have come to learn is that my “nature” doesn’t matter because I am in Christ and should put Him on display each day. There are those who say, “if that person would just apologize I would forgive them”. And yeah, that’s nice when it happens. But that’s not the example that was set before us. Jesus is our example. and the people who were murdering Him never even asked for forgiveness…He just gave it to them. The example for us is that we must forgive freely – even to those who don’t deserve it. We can’t put stipulations on forgiveness and keep score of rights and wrongs. That’s not up to me. I’m going to be a therapist, not a judge. Besides the fact that not forgiving breaks up families and causes strife, it also is just stressful keeping tabs on all those tally marks for each side! LET IT GO!!!! Please. For your own sake.

We try to force love on others and on ourselves. Love is strong. And it’s a strong action, not an emotion like we’ve been taught. Love is doing, actively pursuing, proving day in and day out the commitment to the other person. Perry Noble says, “Love is determined by what we’re willing to seek out and what we’re willing to sacrifice for.” Knowing that, also know that God loves you. And his love and grace are sufficient. You need no one else’s. It’s nice to have. It makes life more enjoyable. But it’s not necessary. Don’t try to push love on those who don’t want it. Just lay it out there for them to pick up. It’s not hard, though it is work. It should be one of the most awesome jobs you have, loving others.

We expect instant gratification. Guilty! I want it, and I want it now! Yes, please. NOW! Though that’s my thought process most of the time, God laughs again. We must be vigilant, persistent, and enduring on our quest and towards our goals. That shows dedication and love. The Bible gives us one for this in Galations 6:9, “Let’s 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.” Good is coming, but it may not be today. Rest in that knowledge.

Ultimately, these things are all things I have or continue to struggle with. Overwhelming feelings come and go. However, if we refuse to allow our circumstances to shape what we believe about God, we will walk in freedom from fear, knowing that the One who holds tomorrow is good and is in complete control. In writing this post I have utilized Perry Noble’s book Overwhelmed a lot. I encourage you to read it!

Also, please be in prayer for me and my family. We have been going through a lot and are still waiting on answers and concreteness of things. Pray that God’s will be done in all areas of our lives and that his healing hands will be upon my body. Love to you all!

Why you gotta be so mean?!

Why are people so mean? More specifically, why are Christians so mean?

Those who do not follow Christ have somewhat of an excuse, because there has been no standard or bar set for how they should act. This doesn’t mean these folks won’t have to answer for their meanness, they just don’t want to believe it.

Christians, as the hands and feet of God, people look at us differently. We are constantly under scrutiny from the outside world, yet we still give into the Devil’s qualms. Look around you; there are people in your life who do not attend church or do not follow Jesus. There is a reason for that. Nonbelievers look at “us” and see God. As His hands and feet, doing all things “to the glory of Christ”, WE are a representation of him. And to a nonbeliever, how we act is how God would act. They associate our actions, morals, and emphasis with that of our God. And though we are not sinless and are constantly falling short, that doesn’t stop people from looking at us and thinking this way. Therefore we must be VERY careful in what we say and do to others and to each other.

Christians persecuting other Christians is the worst kind of dispute. We are to LOVE one another and build each other up, not point fingers, name names, and slander our Brother or Sister in the community. The sickest part about this is that some who do this think they are doing it in “good faith” and that it is the right thing to do. No WONDER people don’t want to come to church with you! Good grief! Who in the world would think that doing such mean, hateful, and ungodly things would be a positive representation of Christ?!

The Devil is a liar and a thief who’s purpose is to destroy this world and pit us against one another. He does this in multiple ways, and one way is through an individual. The Devil can be working in you and you not even know it. In fact, he may even trick you into thinking you are doing “the Lord’s work”. Be careful of this my friends. You may be able to point the finger at someone whom you think he is using, only to realize later that YOU were that person all along.

Matthew 19:19 says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This phrase is no coincidence. God knew how selfish and self-centered we were. He then instructs you to take that very self-righteous love you have for yourself and give it away. Give it to someone else. Can you say you have done that today? Loved someone else as much as you love yourself? And I am not talking about your mom or dad. They’re easy to love. I am talking about your “enemy”. Your adversary.

Love is the only way to overcome such meanness and hurt. Love and forgiveness.

In the last month, my home church (that little old Southern Baptist one I have mentioned before) has lost its pastor, 4 deacons, a pianist, choir director, treasurer, and 40 members. During the last month there have members within those 40 who have lied, slandered, accused, stonewalled, disrespected, and hurt other members. This has been a rough month. Some have questioned how could Christians treat others in such a way. I believe that Perry Noble says it best when he points out that God has His hand in all things. ALL things, not just the good. God either makes things happen or allows them to happen. This has come as no surprise to God. He allowed the Devil to do this to our church, just as he allowed the Devil to test many in the Bible. However, the Devil does not rule. God owns the Devil and the Devil only does things to the extent that God allows. Therefore, there is no real reason to worry. Yes, we have “lost” a lot this month. But we are promised that whatever we give, we will get back ten-fold. So I have no worries at all about the stability of our church.

Now we are not focused on hurrying up and getting out of this situation we are in. We got here and here is where we are. Instead we are seeking how we can walk through this stressful situation well. Because this is where God put us. This is His will. And it WILL be for the good. Perry Noble says, “As our view of God increases, our worry and stress decrease, because it’s only then that we begin to believe that all the things that are over our heads are under His feet.”

Joseph shows us in Genesis, the very first book of the Bible, the importance of forgiveness. The power of forgiveness is greater than the pain of our circumstances. Someone may intend to harm you, but God intends it all for good.

Jesus is our role model. We should do nothing but strive to be more like him each day. Everyone, whether Christian or unbeliever, know the story of his death. The horrific and gruesome details. But one of the most incredible parts of his story is that he forgave. He forgave the people who were murdering him, and they never even asked for it, he just gave it to them. Freely. I’ve heard people say that they would forgive someone if that person who offended them apologized and then asked for forgiveness. As nice as that would be, it doesn’t always happen. But the example set before us is to forgive freely- even to those who don’t deserve it.

There has been one particular individual who told elders in our church that when she left with our pastor, the Devil would outweigh the Lord in our church. And she was taking God with her when she left.

Have you ever heard such ridiculous statements?

To set the record straight, the Devil will NEVER outweigh MY God. My God is supreme, all-knowing, omnipotent, and in control. He could go to Hell and walk among all those burning in the lake of fire and he would STILL be bigger! He would still be ruling. He is NEVER outnumbered, outweighed, or outmatched. If anyone tries to tell you so, call them a lie and don’t listen to another word. Secondly, to think that a human can “take” God anywhere is just stupid. God is everywhere, all the time, with everyone. Furthermore where two or three gather in His name, He is there in even MORE power. For a lady to think that she is the boss and can order MY Lord around, she is sadly mistaken. I can see her now saying, “Come on Lord, get in my bag, you’re coming with ME!” ……….yeah right.

I will end this lengthy post by saying that as Christians, we should love. No matter what. And I do still love each and every person who has left our church. But sometimes love is done best when it is done at a distance.

I would also like to say that NO ONE or NO THING is going to steal my joy.

Kay Warren says, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”

I will not be separated from that joy. Nice try, Devil. Try again later.