23 Jan 2017

God wants to move you. From guilt to grace, 'should' to 'want', and anger to joy.

Freedom is not as straightfoward as it seems.

We are completely fooled to think that it equates being able to do whatever we fancy, with no one to gainsay us. That kind of freedom doesn't even exist, for we are our own worst critics. In fact, while the expectations of others can be a real burden and even nuisance, in the end, what bogs us down is our own inner voice that says

not enough
not good enough
surely you can do better

There is a place for improvement. But to improve out of a commitment to grow your ability is different from the need to improve toward some mark that keeps shifting. Some investigative CSI work is called for here as to why the mark keeps shifting. More on that later.

Every holiday, media will be rife with posts about the myriad of expectations and how not to be cobbled by them:
. how to handle pokey relatives, especially if you are still single
. order takeout of every dish imaginable, no need to stress over cooking
. responding to comments about your home/health/wealth (or lack thereof)
All of it coming at us and corroborated by our own compulsions, we find ourselves easily tripped by a sense of guilt and strained by a long list of 'shoulds' as women, wives, mothers, girlfriends, leaders. Inevitably this leads to an accumulation of anger. We get angry at ourselves for making inadequate progress. We become easily angry at those who seem to hinder our progress (be it keeping to schedule or reaching some objective). We may as well be angry with God (and we are too polite to admit it, or too afraid to).

God meanwhile, has both tried to redirect us as well as allow us to learn by becoming fed-up with being stuck in the mud.

Pause and think. 

Was there a re-direction from God when he allowed you to mess up...again? Could he be showing you that you need to do some things differently?

Are you really exhausted? You know you cannot continue like this.

How do we move from guilt to Grace and from 'should' to 'want'?

Now for the CSI:

C - consider your motive.
Our motives make a huge difference to what we do and the way we do it. Ask yourself Why you are doing something? Is it motivated by love, fear or obligation? Whether it is taking up a role, parenting, planning something, our speech, even our prayers, motivations stand behind them all.
God reveals to us that the only motivation that makes a difference is love. Do something (for someone) out of love.
Some of us are so beat up in life that even loving someone or something is hazy to us. It has become so difficult to really be responsible and take charge. I can think of only one answer. Start. Life will never happen if we refuse to live, and to love.
Don't do things out of guilt. If you are a mature adult, don't even do things because you should.

S- study your patterns
Do you tend to say 'yes' very quickly? Do you find yourself overloaded? Do you find yourself shying away? Do you yo-yo up and down, or do you tend to worry that something is waiting to go horribly wrong?
Our patterns have a lot to tell us. They are great indicators of what we fear as well as what we hope for. Identify your patterns and pray for the insight to disrupt them.

I- investigate your roots
If you find it hard to break out of a pattern, it is being fed by a deeper root. It is time to see a pastor or a counselor who may be able to help you identify and uproot the issue at its source.

So much of what adults struggle with have roots in childhood.

I do not advocate excessive self-analysis and digging around in your past. Our memories are hazy and our hearts can be extremely vulnerable. Yet, if there are nagging issues, it is very likely that although you are now an adult, in some areas, you have remained a child, and feel powerless to change.

Freedom is when we realised how much we are carried by Grace, that we can make strong, even sacrificial choices because we want to - obey God, lift others up, use our competencies - not because we have to.
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. ~ Galatians 5v13, The Message

Someone share recently that when she had to take in her father-in-law, her older brother reminded her, "don't do it out of duty, do it out of love".
 I think it takes us time to figure out what we are willing to do for others, even our loved ones.

We all secretly fear the worst of things would happen to those around us and we have to upheaval our lifestyles in order to care for them. Rather than wish it away, we may do better to question our hearts and ready them for deeper ways of love.

From Anger to Joy
The simplest and most powerful way to understand anger is that it arises when we feel that our way is blocked (just think drivers that get cut by another). Anger gives way to joy if our life circumstances become what we want. This is a tall order requiring major resistance and reformation!

...God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you ~ Romans 12v1-2, The Message

It is the slow work of building a new scaffold for our lives to hang upon that shapes up differently over time. 

By exposing our patterns, healing our roots and confessing our lack of love, we turn to God for Grace and begin to experience it as a present reality and a powerful force in our lives. In time, we begin to stand on Grace as it solidifies in our lives and find that we are no longer flimsy selves leaning this way and that, racked by guilt, pressure and anger.

This is Good News.

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