Sunday, June 24, 2012

His Grace is (and goodbye to self) Sufficient.

Sometimes I wonder if the Lord looks at us like the idiots we are.  


I wonder if He just rolls His eyes at how dense we are, and shakes His head.  Maybe it's more like when our kids finally figure out an aspect of life and get that smile of comprehension.  And we smile and pat them on the back because they've finally seen the Clue Bird land on that topic.


I'm going to go with that option. 

Oh, this works better when I jump over the beam.  

I imagine His face grins a little when we have those lightbulb moments of "Oh!  That's what He really means!" (even though we've been spouting the verse for decades). 


Lately I've been wrestling with self-sufficiency and how it plays into my faith.  My whole life I've wanted to be self-sufficient.  I want to take care of things myself and immediately.  I like to pretend that I really don't need any help, and I'd rather not bother you for your time.  


I also like the idea of doing things myself.  I trust myself to take care of things, to get them done ahead of time, and to get them done the way I like them done (aka the best way).


And also, because when I do them well, I can take all of the credit.  


Let's face it folks.  There are two things I don't share well:  my food (especially french fries) and my Gold Stars of Achievement.  I don't want you to share in my glory.  I don't want to admit that perhaps your idea was better than mine (or that you thought of it first).  I want to be the heroine that saves the day.  I want to ride in, remedy the situation, and ride out to your applause and cheers while wearing my face of humility.


And I don't want to admit that I'm human after all.  


I don't like to think about the times that I've made mistakes, failed, or sinned.  I've always held myself to very high standards and don't like to admit it when I've fallen short.  Several months ago I was in a weird situation that I didn't handle as well as I could have.  I felt terrible about it afterwards and after praying, asking for forgiveness, and seeking counsel from my husband on how to best handle the situation, I felt the Lord telling me to leave it alone and move on.  And I did.  


For a while.  


Until Satan decided to remind me that I was a shameful sinner.  And he reminded me of that day in and day out for several weeks.  Never mind that I had been forgiven, never mind that the Lord had proven over and over again that it was time to move forward.  My mind wouldn't let me just let the situation rest.  I begin playing out scenarios on how I could rectify the whole mess and fix it all.  My mind began mixing the Truth with my need to be right and it consumed my thoughts. 


I completely ignored the fact that His Grace was sufficient for me.  


And I began to believe that if I could just fix things then I would feel better about the whole situation.  It had nothing to do with what God said, but it had everything to do with me needing to set my record straight again.  Polishing my gold stars.  Fixing things all by myself.  I became consumed with anxiety, and guilt, and fear on how best to fix it all.  I worried about everything--and worry grew arms and legs and started walking around in every corner of my heart.  And this thorn prevented me from picking flowers of grace and mercy and love.  This thorn kept my hand out of the Rose Bush. 


Because in my head, I would feel better when I righted the wrong.  I would feel better when I made everything better.  Because all I had to do was just reopen up a rusty can of worms and hope to blindly pull out the Worm of Victory even though the Lord, and I, and my husband, all agreed that it was best to leave the situation alone.  Life is a game of rules, and when we follow the rules we're all fine, right?!


And my self-sufficiency is my own little god.  


I began to grow fearful that somehow He was changing the rules on me.  And that I needed to hold on to this because maybe I didn't like the way it was going to happen.  And I didn't like that He was in charge of my life.  Evil thoughts of not wanting to trust Him began to invade my heart.  I was tightly holding on to fear until one day I had finally had enough, and I let Him have it all (because let's face it, my tiny fists cannot keep it from the Hands that created the world).  I apologized to Him for trying to keep my heart from Him.  I talked to another trusted person about my situation.  And once again, this person gave me the exact advice I had been given before: leave it alone.  I also asked Him to prove to me within the week what I should do about it--if I should revisit it again, or if I should leave it alone.  Through my prayers that week my Lord reminded me again and again that I was forgiven and that if it should be revisited again in the future that I need not worry--He would prepare me and help me through it all.  I was still nervous with my blind faith, but this time I was holding His hand. 


And the week passed without incident.  

Through all of this, I've learned a lot about myself.  Denying myself and what that really means.  I've examined my past and my mindsets and realized that I have a whole lot of arrogance in the belief that I'm ok because I keep my nose clean.  I have somehow convinced myself that because I do the right thing, I am right.  I forget that I cannot right all of my wrongs by simply doing the right thing.   

Because if I could right all of my wrongs by myself, then I wouldn't have a need for Jesus.  

And Good Lord, if there is ever a need in my life, it is a desperate need for Him.

It almost feels like I'm breaking up with myself.  I am sadly looking at the past only to be disappointed with who I've allowed myself to become.  My Gold Stars of Achievement have lost most of their shiny satisfaction.  And I don't want to be that person--the person who relies on herself when it comes to her faith.  But, it's also been good to know, read, and remember that I'm in good company.  Even the Apostle Paul dealt with thorns of the flesh:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 
2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 NIV





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