Sunday, July 8, 2012

Who's in Control? Pt. 4: Living in Brokenness


{This one’s on the long side, sorry!}

The fact is that we like being good, complete, “perfect” people. Showing any sign of weakness or shortcomings is so often seen as a bad thing in our western world. We all know deep down inside that we are living a lie when we try to come across as faultless…but we do it anyway. We compare ourselves to other people and wonder why our life is such a mess compared to how put-together they appear.

But the reality is that every single one of us is just as broken.

We try to hide it from the view of others.

We try to ignore it, stuffing it deep.

But we can’t run away from it.

We know all about it.

We hurt from it.

Broken.

This ties into the sermon because Leeman talked about how we should submit not only to God but also to one another by being authentic with one another. I know I am broken. And if I stop to think about it, I naturally realize that other people are not exempt from failings in their own life.

So why do we try to keep up the fa├žade? Why don’t we – especially within the body of Christ! – be willing to open up with trusted brothers and sisters and share our struggles? The reality is that often it can be beneficial rather than detrimental!

This whole idea really came home to me in April. It was just a tough month for me all the way through. Twelve pages in my diary are filled with a whole lot more questions than the detailed solutions I would love to have as a set pattern follower. And yet I can honestly say that month was one of the best months of my life. Because even though there were hard times, God was so gracious and He never deserted me (naturally!).

One evening a friend texted me asking for prayer. Long story short, I ended up sitting with her wishing I had the words to say to make everything all better in her life. That experience really opened my eyes to the fact that others have just as much pain bottled up inside of themselves as I have in me. Why do we hold it in? 
Why don’t we release it by admitting our feelings to trusted friends?

That evening, I journaled about the thoughts that flowed from the experience:

“We are all such broken people. We do NOT like admitting it, we do not like sharing it. We expect ourselves and one another to have life all put together. We think we have to be perfect in order to impress one another and often, I think, in an attempt to win God’s favor—to deserve God’s grace.
But that’s not how He works. He works through, not only in spite of, our brokenness. He calls us to come with humble hearts in recognition of our moment by moment, desperate need of Him….
Honesty is NOT easy. It is hard to let those safety walls we have built around us slowly come down.
It’s scary because we fear people’s opinions, we fear being hurt. And when we fear, it does demonstrate a lack of trust.* But it also points to a lack of experiencing true love. Because when people love one another as God loves, there is no torment—there is no fear. There is no uncertainty of how the other person will respond to what we do or say.
And so tonight has been a humbling reminder for me, because it calls me not to forget that I can love {another person through their} pain by God’s love and power alone.”

Over the next couple of days I kept thinking about this topic, and I came back to it in my next journal entry:

“Life here on this earth is hard. It really does just {stink} sometimes. When I’m confronted with how much pain & brokenness there is, especially in other people, it’s hard.
Hard to see why God would allow that—hard to understand why this is part of His plan. And yet it is! And that is the beauty in the midst of the pain; that is the reason we can hope through the hurt.
God is still sovereign, and He does see the end. He knows what we feel. He does not beat us up and leave us lying there broken. Yes, He allows BAD things to happen—but even those things are part of His bigger plan. He uses those experiences to grow us, to bring us into deeper and deeper dependence on Him….”

It’s tough to see beyond the pain of the moment to the amazing goodness which God has in store. And yet I firmly believe that if we would be open and real with one another and learn to accept and love one another, even as the broken beings we are, we could help one another to remember how God sees us. Because God doesn’t see His children as ugly, ruined objects. In His eyes, those who have been accepted into His family are clean and beautiful individuals. Flawed? Yes. Hurting in a world still full of pain? Yes. But that is not their real identity.

That’s what has been rolling around in my heart/head for a while. So friends, if I ask you how you are doing, I really do want to know. If you trust me and are willing to share your struggles, I pray He will overflow His love and grace upon you through me. If I open up and be vulnerable with you about what I am going through, I hope you will accept me as I am and point me back to what truly matters: Christ alone.

Next time I’ll rewind a bit to my Sunday at a friend’s church in Maryland, because the sermon there tied into this same subject {Funny all the various things God can pull from to make a point, isn’t it? :D}

*This had been a theme of my experiences last summer.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Who's in Control? Pt. 3


Sorry, my week got away from me!

The sermon I talked about last time was, as I mentioned in the first post, very convicting to me. It holds a lesson that I just need to keep being reminded of over and over because I am a spiritually forgetful being. I know good and well that God is the one with true authority over my life. And yet again and again I find myself making my own plans and staking my happiness on that rather than being willing to surrender to God’s will.

There are several areas of my life where this is particularly difficult. God is awesomely patient with me. So often though, I blame myself for having to surrender once again in an area that I thought I had taken care of before.

I guess the big picture truth behind my frustration is my need to accept the fact that I will never arrive at a perfect attitude here on earth. Rather, the Christian life is a process. It’s that moment by moment handing over of my will to His. But I am frequently too distracted to notice His outstretched hand, waiting for me to let go of my flurried feelings and childish plans.

As I was writing this, a song I had heard before but hadn’t really paid attention to the words of came on my mp3 player. It’s so applicable here {I love it when such “coincidences” happen J}. So watch this video of it and think about the words J

Speaking of songs – as I mentioned before I love the music at CHBC! In my two Sunday mornings of experience, they do a great job of picking songs that match with the theme of the teaching. On June 17 we sang one called “Speak, O Lord” which I appreciate. We also sang one I had never heard before but was absolutely applicable: “O Great God.”

All of these songs so accurately describe how I so often feel. I do want to listen and obey – and yet my tendency is to go on about my own business as though God doesn’t have time to be involved in each moment of my life and I have to do it on my own.

The offertory that morning was another great hymn – “Day by Day.” I’ve heard it in three different services this summer, I think. Must be that God’s trying to get that lesson through my thick skull…. J


The next segment will be a bit of a spin-off of from the sermon – something I’ve been thinking about for a couple of months but haven’t gotten around to blogging.