Tag Archives: patience

LL School Day: Rush Our Days

ID-10035774

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom. -Psalm 90:12

I don’t know how this got ingrained in my heart, but I like to rush EVERYTHING. I used to always vocalize how impatient I am about things, but a recent situation has me thinking about WHY I feel the need to rush everything. Last night, I was thinking and talking to Jesus, and the Holy Spirit whispered: Michelle, why do you always want to rush into everything? Why are you so afraid of enjoying the journey?

I don’t know the answer to that, and I have been thinking about it all morning. I don’t think it’s just me, I think we all have the tendency to do this at times. But some of us (ahem, me) are more apt to do it than others. I tend to future-think everything. If I make a decision to take this job, what does it mean for my future? If I befriend this person, where will our friendship be in 5 years? If I like something or someone, why can’t it progress at a quicker pace? This has been the story of my overthinking life for as long as I can remember.

I believe that some of this comes from my ridiculous need to daydream (i.e. overthink) about the future. I fear that it sometimes means I rush through the present. I rush through my relationships sometimes, trying to get to that “next level” in some of them instead of enjoying where they are right now. I rush through my job, trying to get to that “next level” of accomplishment or my career. I rush through my prayer time, trying to get to that “next level” of spiritual growth. I want these things so badly that I don’t take the time to truly enjoy where I am, right now, with the people in my life.

I was listening to a speaker talk about the Lord’s timing the other day, but in a sense that sometimes, by our words and actions, we actually say things that place curses on our personal timelines. “I wish this day had never happened.” “I hate Mondays.” “That was a whole year of my life wasted.” And I do believe that he’s right. But I also believe that in this specific situation, I’m speaking similar curses into my timeline and life by wishing things moved faster than they do. For example, if any particular situation in my life was moving at a quicker pace–let’s say my business was booming, would I have even thought about this specific place of needed growth in my life, with how I always rush things? Probably not…because I would be too invested in what’s would be happening and what would be coming next (rushing) instead of what I need to be learning while I’m waiting.

This is about more than stopping to smell the roses; this is about a change of heart and mind for me. This is about being present–hoping for the future, but not dwelling there in mind, body, or spirit. I encourage each of you to take stock of your thought patterns…are you dwelling too much on what’s going to happen next that you’re not enjoying what’s happening now?

Father, teach us not to rush our days. Help us to focus on Your timeline for our lives, and to enjoy where we are, right now, at this moment, so that we may gain wisdom and understanding from You. Amen.

 

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The God Identity: Patience

Identity by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

Tonight for dinner, I had Grandma Utz’s potato chips, three chocolate covered strawberries, watermelon, and an Honest Tea juice box. Let’s face it: I’m eating my feelings. I’ve been going through an intense time of suffering, and the end is not in sight. My uncle is recovering from a massive stroke, my dad is close to dying, my job is stressful and changing drastically, and my friends have felt distant. My response has been to wallow, throw pity parties, and ignore my physical health. Worst of all, I haven’t had much patience with anyone—God, myself, or others. I’ve been really self-absorbed and irritated with everyone—including myself (see previous blog posts for examples!).

As I was convicted of this, I realized that I was allowing some aspects of the porn identity to take over my life in an area where the God identity has been trying to take hold: patience. We tend to think of patience as affecting only one area of our lives (timing), but here are the three areas where I’m trying to improve and adopt the God identity characteristic of patience in my life:

  • Patience for timing. I tend to think that my timing is perfect, and God is usually late. I know the phrase, “God is always on time” but I rarely live like that’s true. No question has been bigger in my life than, “God, where is my husband?” There was a time when I was unhealthy and addicted and I know that would have been a terrible time for me to get married. But now that I’m healthier and committed to walking with God, my struggle is even bigger. “I was closer to getting married when I was unhealthy than I am now!,” I reason with God. But the Bible says that it is not for me to know the times or the seasons God has fixed by His own authority (Acts 1:7). And each time I can peacefully accept God’s timing in my life, I am practicing patience.
  • Patience for others’ mistakes or sins. In the past, I have had very little patience for the mistakes and sins of others. I tend to get very impatient with people who don’t see truth right away as I do. Often, this means folks are missing truth and sinning instead of recognizing the truth and doing right. And this makes me angry—angry that people don’t realize they aren’t walking in truth, and angry that I am trying to do the right thing while others are not! And when I’m angry, I’m not waiting OR doing the right thing. But the Bible says that I should not become tired of doing good, because in due season, I’m going to reap a harvest (Galatians 6:9). And each time I hold back judgment while a friend muddles through a mistake or sin, I am practicing patience.
  • Patience for times of suffering. This is where I’m currently struggling the most. I can’t remember a time when I’ve prayed less than these past eight weeks. I’ve told my friends that their prayers have sustained me—and that’s true, but mostly because I’ve not been as vigilant about seeking the Lord during this time as I have sought solace, food, and other things to blame. Quite honestly, I’ve had little patience for this time of suffering—which has made me less patient for God’s timing and others’ mistakes and sins, too. Then today, I saw a Bible verse that reminded me of what I’m supposed to do when suffering and trials head my way: I should rejoice in hope, be patient in trials, and be constantly praying (Romans 12:12). Perhaps if I focus on doing these three important things, I can begin practicing patience during this time of intense suffering.

It’s not too late for me—or you! We can begin practicing patience today in any or all of these areas. The Bible lists many promises for those who wait on the Lord and show the virtue of patience: inheritance, blessing, strength, hope, etc. These are all things we want in our lives—the question is, are we able to develop patience so that we can have them? The God identity says that we can—so I challenge you to start today with me!

This Is My Story, This Is My Song: Post Recovery

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” –Hebrews 10:24-25 

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net

After attending Celebrate Recovery for a year, I felt God calling me back to my former church—yes, the one I had left abruptly. I had made amends with my pastor, and he had told me, “Oakdale will always be your home.” However, I somehow believed that completing a recovery process meant that I wouldn’t face any obstacles and that I was finished with my work. So even though I returned to the church a different and better person, God was not finished His work in me. I had a lot of growing to do. In fact, I found that I was still struggling with people and with how to use my gifts. So after a brief stint back, I left again, hoping to find a place where my gifts could be used—even though my heart was not in the right place.

My search turned up dry, though, and in the midst of feeling out of community, I became involved with a man who offered me false community and intimacy. He claimed to be a Christian but was not practicing or in community with other believers. We began a relationship while he was still married. I somehow convinced myself that this was not adultery because he and his wife were separating. However, because I had stopped talking with my close Christian friends, I had no accountability. It was a brief relationship, and thankfully, God delivered me from it and opened my eyes to my sins. When the relationship ended, I repented and returned once again to the church I had left—to the community of believers who showed me the grace and love I had been searching for.

The latest years of my life have shown me a few important things:

  1. Recovery is ongoing. Even though I was free from my pornography addiction and related issues, I was still struggling with my relationships. My beliefs about relationships with men and my own worth still needed work. And I realized that my thought life was still an issue—daydreaming and control issues ran rampant. I did not leave Celebrate Recovery fully healed: I left healed of many issues, but I still need constant work to continue to grow in my walk with God.
  2. Ongoing recovery requires community. I didn’t have to stay at Celebrate Recovery, but I needed to be in community SOMEWHERE. When I stopped attending church, hanging with my Christ-like friends, and allowing myself to be held accountable, I fell into sin very easily. I went down the slippery slope so fast, I was unable to recover in time. I praise God for His grace, but I know that not having community was the biggest reason I fell into sin. Now I make community a priority in my life—so that recovery can continue!
  3. Every community is made up of sinners like me. When I left my church, it was because I didn’t believe people were communicating with God about how to use my gifts. As it turns out, I was the one not in tune with God. No matter what church you attend, no one there is perfect—including you. I had to temper my expectations about people and about God. And I had to realize that people—even and especially my Christian friends, would disappoint me and even hurt me. When I understood and accepted those things, staying in community became that much easier.

When I returned to my church this last time, I spent one year in a ministry supporting in the background. I finally submitted to God, allowing Him to develop patience in me and allowing Him to use that year to mature me in very specific spiritual and emotional areas. And when I humbled myself before Him, He lifted me up (James 4:10)—to the perfect worship leadership position for me. I currently serve there, and though it is challenging, I know that God is using this time to develop and grow me even more, so that I can face the next eight years with full confidence in Him and who I am in Him. And that is the reason I sing!

Thank you for reading my story and hearing my song! I pray that it has blessed you and encouraged you in your own walk with Christ!