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Conviction

Yesterday, God really started to hammer home some areas He wants to work on in my life. At first I didn't really notice that was happening, but as with so many things (particularly with Him), after a while, patterns emerge.

One of the roots from which many branches have grown is that I haven't been putting my whole self in to a number of areas of my life. Two that readily show up are my relationships with Him and with my work. The latter is harder to notice right away because of how focused and productive I've been. Clearly, that increased effectiveness is a blessing, not only to myself, but also to those I serve. It's the spiritual aspect of my work that's been under some neglect—not in the sense of working for a church (though there's that), but rather the understanding any Christian must develop and maintain of his work as a gift received from God and given to others. There's nothing wrong with giving consideration to how my work is challenging me and enriching my life; it's just too narrow a view. There's a bigger picture, larger purposes, and until that's an integrated part of my perspective, I simply can't trust my internal instruments to evaluate where and how work is fitting in my life.

That bigger picture is, of course, informed by my relationship with God. There are so many ways I've been phoning it in, checking a faith box rather than exercising the muscles of faith. That's not about working to impress God or win His favor. Rather, it's about actively participating and abiding in a relationship, and anyone who believes he can successfully be in a relationship without work by just sitting there is deluding himself and doing everyone a disservice.

Awakened hearts, like awakened people, can be sensitive. Threaded through these two realizations is the conviction that the way I often see and interact with others, frankly, sucks. I'm condescending and judgmental, and under that I'm envious and insecure. That's not an "always" thing, and it doesn't wrap up neatly with a bow on top, but it's there and it's been there for most of my life, wreaking havoc (tangent: is havoc the only thing that's ever wreaked?) on both my relationships and my outlook. Ultimately, much of it is an outworking of finding my identity in my own abilities rather than in Christ—I don't see people and the world as He sees them, and I look for security in establishing myself in a better place than others (which always fails, sooner or later, and makes the problem that much worse).

Stepping back from where I've been will likely involve a lot more quiet on my part. I blame people for not thinking like I do, but that's not a sin. If the way God's wired me sometimes means that I'm in a different place than others can be in that moment, impatience isn't a good fix. Is it enough to be still and be with Him in those times? Will I trust Him not to abandon me? Is there room for Him to correct me and give me a greater appreciation of what He's working in and through the people around me? Does He love me enough that I don't have to be right in the eyes of others, or even in my own?

God doesn't have any shortage of appropriate tools to make His children look more and more like Christ. As I'd heard from so many others before I married, He uses marriage in unique and powerful ways in the lives of those who marry. Hard? Painful? Can be, without a doubt. But it's a relationship that reflects and reveals so much of who Christ is with His Church, and the things that can hurt are often the result of gripping too tightly on what we must release. If God is trying to take something away, the very best thing I can do is let Him do that. He's made me to embrace other things, and I'm very thankful for both the means and the end.

Comments

Whoa. I'm really trying not to be a constant nuisance in your journal, lil' bro. I tried like mad to keep from commenting for several posts. But this is just toooooo good. I could not help myself. This entry distills so much of what is wrong with my relationship with Jesus right now, it's eerie. I wonder if this part hit me so hard because of the upbringing we share:

Ultimately, much of it is an outworking of finding my identity in my own abilities rather than in Christ—I don't see people and the world as He sees them, and I look for security in establishing myself in a better place than others (which always fails, sooner or later, and makes the problem that much worse).

I don't have any concrete memories as such, but envy is so prevalent in my life that I have to believe that competition and comparison were two of the key values that our parents chose to instill, whether or not they were even consciously aware of doing it. And while achievement certainly has its place, it leaves such emptiness when it becomes the only measure of a person's worth. Not too mention the havoc wreaked (and I agree, havoc seems to be hogging all the wreaking) in personal relationships. When my sense of being ok depends on being right and better than you, how can we really connect and mutually benefit from our relationship?

I'll be pondering this for one for a long while. This may very well become my first LJ memory. Thank you!!!!
There's lots to unpack, for sure. Hopefully we can find ways to do that while continuing to move forward (the temptation to get locked into self-absorbed navel gazing can be compelling for me, especially when there's a lot to figure out).
What an amazing post, Lee. I love that, even when there are things in you that God wants to tweak and heal, you have the ability to allow Him to show you... and then you speak it... and then you work. Sometimes I stop at step one... if I even GET to step one. :)

Tangent: Your sister writes like you... or you her. ;)
Of course, you only get to see/read the ones that get that far. :) But that's encouraging to hear nonetheless.

heartflyte and I had almost exactly the same training up until college, so it makes sense that we sound a bit alike (I noticed it, too).

Actually, I think just reading your amazing post got me into the groove of a certain voice.

In other words, "I rid on your coattails, eh?"

"Take Off." No, don't. I'd miss you too much.
Our first Sun. at our new church, they preached on Comparison. Yeah. I think most of us struggle with that. Part of the key to getting out of it is finding your identity in Christ, and remembering that God created you uniquely, blessing you with certain gifts, so that you would be the best person on earth to do the good works He has created for you to do! That's a good starting place, anyway.