This week, God has really been teaching me to be STILL. So still! You know the still I’m talking about, the one after a hectic gym class (for me it’s Abs Blast, such a killer!) and you’re trying to hold those cool down stretches on one foot for 40 seconds? Yeah, God wanted me stiller than that mate, because I’ve now mastered the 40 seconds and can go for 20 more! Haha. (I’m not joking, yay for flexibility!)
Back to the topic, I’d describe myself as a very vocal and open person – when I’m facing a storm, I’m so encouraged to take solace in the fact that there are people out there who have my back and are praying for me. While that’s not entirely a bad thing, there’s a time and a place for that. I realised that I’d become too reliant on people’s “I’m praying for you” or sympathy points. It was to the point where it was like I needed it to feel okay again, to feel loved and cared for. Those closest to me know that Words of Affirmation is my Love Language, nothing makes me more joyful than hearing sweet, encouraging words from my favourites! But, I let Satan turn this into a weakness, to the point I started analysing each and every single word that came out of people’s mouth when they reacted to my problems…I had some kind of tick box going off in my head of whether I approved of people’s sympathy. “X and Y are really sad for me, heck they’re even gonna fast for me!” I’ll remember that and return the favour for sure. VS. “Wow, did Z really just compare my issue to their own?! What a low blow, how selfish and inconsiderate! Definitely zipping my mouth to them from now on!” How foolish, to be that reliant on man’s words, to waste time breaking down and analysing everything, allowing it to affect me to the point I would have anxiety attacks and distract me to the point that my attention is completely diverted from crying out to God for a solution. This experience really made me hone in on the belief that people are terrible idols, we can’t trust them to be our God. My efforts should’ve been wholly focused on God’s word for my life and how His promises always prevail! Jonah 2:8 says: “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” This was the boat I was in (yes, pun intended!) forsaking God’s truth and love for just plain words.
Earlier this week, God spoke such beautiful, personal words of peace to me, how I should trust in Him, find hope, rest in Christ and not let man take that glory. I was moved to tears, I had completely forgotten how much God knows me intimately, better than I know myself. He really speaks into my situation, that closeness and understanding that nobody could ever provide. Words cannot explain it, it’s heavenly and so amazing! He’s my quiet place and my safe refuge. In this moment, it made me reflect: Do I honestly believe God will only move if I have 10 people praying for me?! Do I actually think I need to go through man after man (I’m referring to the third person here!) to get direct access to God’s blessings?! Are the prayers of others much more effective than my own? It sounds so crazy when you think of it, right?! But c’mon, we all do this to some extent. We get lazy in our quiet time and load up on gossip time and other various types of distractions. When we run to others, we actually make ourselves more of a target, and create room for mockery and comparison. Hey! Believe it or not, the heart of man can be so wicked at times, we can pump our pride tank and portray ourselves to be so better off than the next person. This is why Paul reminds us to “continue steadfast in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). Now armed with this knowledge, I asked: “God, how much do I trust you?” I didn’t need to wait for an answer, I already knew it in my heart. I thought my own quiet time with God could be replaced with complaining to others in place of worshipping Him and thanking Him for keeping me alive. He revealed to me that every time I complain, I’m sinning against my spirit. I’m leaving the door wide open for negativity, a perfect vessel for the enemy to attack and defeat me. Praise is a weapon, and it’s like I’d locked it out of sight going into war completely unarmed, it’s a no brainer, of course I’m going to get crushed! I felt Him challenging me to get on my face before Him and only Him. He’s a jealous God after all! I had let man take first place on getting the ins and outs of me all of the time. It’s dangerous, because you become an addict to to the sympathy, you come back for more and more, day after day. You make yourself a daily victim and it’s not cute! My safe and secret place became a zoo, while my faith was just shattering bit by bit. I let people walk in and out, say their two cents or ten, hoping it will magically fix my problems. It took me a few weeks to realise this, but thank God that’s all it took.
The spirit of the Lord can’t dwell in an ungrateful, miserable heart. While meditating on that, I was reminded of this scripture: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3 ESV). Woah, it all started to make sense! I need to trust in God, not my problems. Is my mind stayed on God, or is it stayed on the fact my water immersion went bust this week? Is it stayed on the fact I’m stressed at work and want to catch a break? Or the fact that the car has broken down yet again? For you, is it stayed on the fact that [insert your best yet worst problem here]? Are we allowing our problems to define us and just wail, whine, babble and complain all day?! Each day I wake up, I thank God for a new day, a new opportunity to grow and trust in Him. I know I’m not alone in doing this, but are we really trusting Him if our problems can occupy our minds 90% of the day, is that really giving it to God? Is that our absolute best? Or is “leaving it in God’s hands” become so cliche to us we just say it to sound all saved and mature, but still dwell on it hour, by hour, by hour? I’m so guilty of this, I’ll be the first to admit it unashamedly! Our problems are so temporary and they don’t define us, so why do we work up such a fuss, throw arms when a year from now it really won’t matter, in some situations, 6 months from now, or even 3 months? Dare I say tomorrow?! Yet all people will remember is our sour attitude, ungrateful heart and overly critical self. Let’s face it, approximately 70-80% of our problems are first world problems, seriously! Okay, I’ll own up too! Here’s some of my own examples: Mine and hubby’s car has problems, but public transport seems to be working just fine from what I remember! I also have fully functioning legs that are tough and strong thanks to leg day Tuesday, and the sun has been out for a hot minute so walking is not such a bad idea! I’m stressed working long hours, but thank God I have a job to work in and I can do it diligently with God giving me the grace to get through each day. Bonus: it allows me to be a help-meet to my husband with paying bills and covering various household duties. I have learned to count my blessings to the point I actually cannot recall all of my problems I’ve faced in the last month if I’m honest. I’ve just turned them into praise and seen God work miraculously in my heart, before long, those problems are just experiences which have helped me mature and make smarter choices. Now, this isn’t to say I’m going to put on a front and act like I don’t have any problems, and run around like I’m Little Miss Perfect, no doubt I’ll share my problems, but I am going to alter the purpose and timing of sharing my problems. Not for the sake of venting and uttering all my mind, Proverbs 29:11 tells us a fool does this, but I’ll share my problems in a timely manner, fuelled with faith as I’ve put it in God’s hand first and foremost in prayer, yet admitting I am human and I’m going through right now so I need that support, but I’m going to retire the “woe is me” act and stop acting like my whole world is falling apart, letting my problems dictate my emotional and mental state! What a waste of time and energy! Who am I beneficial to in that state? Because it’s definitely not myself. I’ve also learned that misery loves company – I’m a beacon for Jesus, and my complaining, venting and frustration actually negatively impacts those closest to me. Do I really want to make someone stumble and stunt their own growth because I’m going through this thing called “life?” Do I really want to throw a pity party and just bash life as if it’s a curse? What a sad story, that bitter attitude is like a bad apple, we know what happens to that one bad apple in the fruit bowl, it corrupts and rots every other fresh apple in the bowl, spreading like an illness.
I admire and look up to my husband, because I’ll tell you now and some of you already know this – there could be a solar eclipse causing people to freak out, but he’ll still find something positive to say! (Did you like my scientific reference babe?! I’m trying! Little Einstein in the works!) Anyway, I used to (kinda still do every now and then to be honest!) get SO annoyed with his optimism. Honestly, why wouldn’t he just rant with me, instead of being all sensible and logical?! How is that any fun? Relatable, right ladies?! Haha. I’ll preface my rants with something along the lines of: “Babe, can you just listen to me for ten minutes, don’t ask me any questions or ask me to think rationally, just let me talk and then hug me afterwards, okay? Do we have a deal?!” I thought that’s what husbands were for, to hear you out and just tend to your every fleeting emotion! So silly of me to think that, he is not a robot! I’ve been married for 3 years, it’s safe to say he’s never followed through with that, and I’m learning that he never will and quite frankly, I don’t actually want him to be that guy, because his role is to challenge me, to lead me and to not allow me to damage or tear myself down with my words. So in my rational state, that’s what I want from him. He is also a human with his own set of problems, challenges and frustrations that he wants to share with me too, but how can he if I’m in this perpetual state of bitterness and self deprecation? The words I speak to myself, I speak also unto to him as we’re one flesh. When I uttered that rhetoric, about asking him not to ask me to think logically etc, my husband replied: “Did you just hear yourself, you asked me not to ask you to think rationally. How can I allow you to do that? Where is that going to leave you?” There it was firsthand, that deadly attitude seeping in my heart, flowing out of my mouth sounding like absolute garbage through my marriage, who next? Family? Friends? Colleagues? Strangers? Until it just becomes who I am, who people are repulsed to confide in, trust in and heck, even converse with because I act like there’s no hope. Thank God for Him invading my pity party and stopping that before it even started, and of course using my husband as a tool to help break that attitude. God doesn’t want that for me or you! There’s so much power in our words, let’s think before we speak and let God sort our emotional and mental being first and foremost before our spouse, partner, friends, etc.
So, this was a really hard post to write, because I know so many of you can relate and I had to be careful to not come across too strong. But I have to be honest, and call a spade a spade. What help is it if I sugarcoat? I promised myself when I started this, I’ll be raw and honest, even if it’s not pretty or popular. I pray you’ve managed to read up to this point and if you can relate on some level, God is tugging at your heart to transform your thinking and your attitude. It’s not an easy thing to analyse yourself and realise: a) you have flaws, and b) they’re ugly. If I’m honest, it takes me a while to confront my flaws, I like to dance around them, cover them up or ignore them completely, who doesn’t though? Props to you if you’re that guy that is like “Woah, I’m selfish/bitter/jealous/greedy/impatient, let’s fix this!” Haha, teach me please! But there comes a time when enough is enough right? Your feet get tired from dancing or skirting around, you run out of foundation or concealer to cover up, and then what? So, if you’re with me on this and have found yourself complaining a lot more, or are overly reliant on people’s reaction/opinion, and are fed up of being fed up, hang in there friend, take rest and leave it at the feet of Jesus. Take a deep breath and tell yourself it is going to be okay, and actually believe it. I tell myself “it’s going to be okay” at least 5 times a day, it stops me from fearing the worst and making a mountain out of a molehill. Stop allowing your problems to define you, burden you and make you a bad apple. Begin to alter the purpose of your talking, alter your language, attitude and renew your mind! Build yourself up in the Lord – stop looking to other people to do that, you’re more than capable of doing it on your own missy, and you’ll be better for it. Jesus has your back and He is all the love you need – married or not, He comes first, remember that. You’re responsible for your own happiness and joy, no one has (or should) have the power to alter your emotional state in a drop of a hat. So you gotta get on this train independently, and give your faith a top up, in fact, load up a full tank and trust He’ll make a way. I dare you to start acting as if your problem has been solved already, and watch God move!