Sunday, May 04, 2014

Facing the Mirror

I haven't written in a while. I think it has something to do with the swirling changes that have occurred over the last few months since my to Connecticut.  It hasn't been easy. A lot has been hard, actually, but it has been good. 

I've been learning again what it means to be a part of my family. Not just a member, but a daily presence. The last time this was the case, I was 18. It's different to do this 10 years later. 

I've been learning to be in relationship - to no longer be this independent fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants 20-something (a lot of hyphens, I know), but to become someone who thinks of others first, to relinquish my "way" of doing things for the sake of someone else. Being in relationship - be it with family, a boyfriend, a best friend - requires a denial of self. And that is hard. I thought I was a pretty nice person...well, this girl needs some iron-sharpening. 

This isn't my pity party - the place where I express my woes of my past living or beat my chest in sorrow. That makes it all about me. This is the place where I realize that my perspective needs a pivot. 

The word "posture" has come up frequently in recent days - this image of position, disposition. It is really difficult to have a posture towards others. And I don't mean just surface level care for others - the kind that is not bad at all, but doesn't actually require change. I live here a lot - and people like it, respect it, appreciate it.  Let me reiterate - it's not bad. It's not bad to like to use your time to give back to others in various ways. It's actually good. But the Bible says this amazing convicting thing in 1 Corinthians 13 right before the famous "love passage" read at so many weddings.  It says,
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothingIf I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing."
And then, Paul proceeds to actually explain what love is. It's patient. It's kind. It doesn't envy or boast. It's not proud or rude. It's not self-seeking, irritable or resentful. It always delights in the truth - it rejects evil and wrongdoing. Yikes. That's quite the measuring stick. The posture of this person is completely pressed into Christ - and that's something that requires time with Him, practice in choosing others first.  Discipline.

I've been a single independent woman for a while. This means I have had a lot of control over my circumstances and have been able to choose where I put myself and how I love. But when you come back into family, when you enter into intimate relationship, when you live with someone, your imperfect and sometimes horribly unloving parts surface. And I am made aware of how much I need the Lord.

I need His Spirit to keep me from having that conversation in anger. I need His grace when I feel attacked or cornered by the way someone said something. I need His joy when I'm around people who are walking through hard times. I need Jesus. I don't think I've ever felt this as much as I do now.   I need Him to root out some of my self-focused patterns that alienate others. I need Him to continue to give me this posture of His love towards others. The gentle, quiet spirit that allows Him to move and speak in and through me.

It, frankly, feels overwhelming when I think about it even now. Can He really pull out all of the weeds of "Me" that I've planted over the past 10 years? It would take a miracle. Thankfully, our God is the King of kings, Lord of lords, the only true God. So yes, He can. I choose to believe this.

Lord, in this season of my life, I first want to thank you for using your people to show me how self-focused I am. You have been gracious to continue to bring me through this refining. You are patient with this impatient daughter of yours. You sing over me even when I'm shouting out my plans and expectations. Father, forgive and soften my cold heart. Help me to choose to really love others. To see with your heart. To be postured with grace and mercy. To be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Help me to get over myself in such a way that all people see when they see me is you. Cleanse me of all unrighteousness and bring me to a fuller joy in your presence. I am yours, Lord. Amen. 

With love,
Amy

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