As usual, a new year brings about reflection and resolutions. I found myself annoyed while I was on social media on New Years Eve. I was annoyed because so many mark a new year to change without really ever doing anything differently. I was annoyed because 2015 would mark the year, my first year, without my Mom in it.
I was also annoyed because I lacked any vision for what 2015 would hold. This is not in itself a bad thing. For me it has been the first time that I have not known what direction God will be taking us as a family. Through this God has been teaching me that it is okay to not always see a glimmer of what is to come (although he often shows us what steps to take). He cares more about the day to day and at times the hour-by-hour trust in him more.
I have always been the one to dream these big impossible dreams that could only be explained by God orchestrating them. There came a time in my life though that I realized my own selfishness. Too often our culture, as well as our human nature, is so inwardly focused, that we do not even realize that we expect God to fit into our life, our dreams and our expectations without really ever changing. We think that a magic prayer or even remaining stagnant, proclaiming that we follow God, is good enough. News flash. If you claim to follow Jesus Christ good fruit will be evident in your life. This means joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, love and self control will grow more and more a part of who you are on a consistent basis (look at Galatians 5:22-23). It does not mean that you can speak all of the right words and get into heaven, while all the evidence in your life dishonors God.
We tend to be a selfish nation and humankind tends to be inward focused. We can make self a god. Instead what needs to take place is to allow God to have complete control over every aspect of our lives. We must allow him to ravage our hearts with his holy love. We must allow him to change and transform us. This is the only way that any lasting change will ever occur.
He has much bigger plans for us than we could ever come up with on our own. When we choose him everyday, life will often look so much different than you ever expected, in a good way. When I realize my selfish tendencies it helps me to surrender to God daily. This dying of self can be painful at times. The death of my Mom greatly shed light on several things in my own life. Habits, thinking processes and even how I communicated and dealt with my emotions were all things God brought to my attention. It was not that I had been doing anything wrong but these things needed refining in me. And I am so thankful!
I am thankful I listened to him in those moments because I would not be here today sharing this blog. My fear of being fully myself around others is slowly melting away. Too often I let the worries of ministry, family members, friends, and even strangers keep me from being fully honest in my writing. There was always this desire in me to speak the truth but I often let the opinions of others keep me from writing them out. God is so gracious to us in moments like these. He is so patient.
He knows what is best every time. His timing is also perfect. Usually, the dreams and plans we thought we would have, take a much different turn because he wants more for us than we ever could do for ourselves. He loves us so much that he uses everything along our journey to get us to the place we wanted to be all along. That place is directly in his will, having gone on a miraculous, love consuming journey filled with sorrow and joy. All of the things in this life, the heartache and the pain are all worth it when you realize that the best place is in full surrender, laying your life into Gods hands. Because once you do that a whole new world is opened up to you. It is beyond description. In giving up of yourself, dying to your selfish ways, you gain everything.
I see many holding on to other things. People gravitate to sex, money, food, fads, and even double lives. The death of my Mom has shown me this more. I have seen how some choose to hold on when letting go is actually much healthier. This is a process for each of us in life. Too often we try to hold onto our life when the greatest freedom and joy is in letting go and bowing before God. We are not promised tomorrow. We do not deserve the grace God gives us everyday. We do not deserve such patience when our sin splatters over everyone in our lives. And if you think you are good at hiding it, or justifying it, think again. The foolish ones never know how evident it is to those around them. And all of us have been foolish in our lives. We were just too prideful to take a serious look at ourselves at the time. We thought that by controlling our own lives, we could achieve everything we ever wanted or at least be able to hide our own sinful, dark secrets.
But one thing that I never fully connected until many years ago, is that dying to self means that you must be willing to give up everything in your life, even what you considered good and maybe even godly. This includes your dreams. Too often I would hold onto certain dreams and expectations of how my life would go because I assumed that I did not need to give these up as well. This reality came crashing down on me when I married my husband. Marrying Jeremy was a huge dream come true! It was not my original dream of what I thought getting married would look like. In fact, I ate a lot of my own words because I never realized the power of God unifying two hearts together after a complete transformation had taken place in both of our hearts. For this I am thankful.
But I never knew that marrying Jeremy would mean that I would lose one of the most precious relationships to me. I never realized that others would hate Gods truth and unifying love between two hearts so much in my life. I never realized until after several years of going without this relationship that I tried to hold onto the dream that this person was going to be my confidant, and best friend for life. See, my dream looked a lot different than it has actually been like. Even though this lack of relationship still breaks me to pieces, and I cry often about it, I would not trade the life that God has given me. Because I know and trust that God loves me and loves to reconcile relationships every day, I have hope that the dream I let go for this relationship (yet fought to keep for so long), will one day be so much better than I ever thought possible, because instead of my dream, it will be Gods dream for us. In the waiting I still get to enjoy love and joy in its fullest measure because I chose God and he gave me one amazing husband!
I have to apply this hope to so many other dreams in my life. And it is with this that I choose to begin the year 2015: Never losing hope for the desires that God has placed in my heart, knowing that one day, everything will come together so much better than I ever imagined, despite the pain and heartache along the way. This is how I begin 2015.
Thank you God for 2014. Thank you for loving me so much that you desire me to change and grow and thrive even though it can be excruciating at times. Please continue to give me the strength I need to continue on without giving up hope. Thank you for the joy you give everyday when I choose you.