Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Most Important Lesson I Have Learned All Year

Now that my children are in school most of the day, I have time to invest in really being with people. I spend a lot of time at 'my office' (also known as Starbucks) bonding with various women over caffeine. As a result of these chats, I have become keenly aware of the pain most folks are carrying around.

Many of the stories I hear are tragic and heavy. This season of my life is marked by walking through tough things with hurting people. And it has taken its toll. I have spent a lot of time in recent months feeling burdened, tired and sad. It has distracted me from my 'healthy' friends and to some degree my husband and children.

I realized a couple of weeks ago that somewhere along the way I have gotten my role wrong. I am trying to be Messiah rather than Messenger. I am attempting to be Savior, when I am called to be Salt & Light. I am trying to Fix people and their circumstances rather than pointing them to their Father.

I have been exhausted and overwhelmed because I am bearing burdens that are far too heavy for my mortal shoulders.

As I have been praying and pondering, I have realized that my struggle lies in my take on the Good Samaritan. I don't ever want to be the one who crosses the street in order to avoid getting involved. I don't want to be afraid of getting messy. I don't want to piously pat someone on the shoulder with a promise to pray rather than being hands and feet. I don't mind getting down in the ditch with messed up people--because I have been largely shaped by people doing that for me. I feel closest to God when serving because it is in those moments that I realize the great lengths He has gone in pursuit of humanity. There is nothing like serious brokenness to humbly remind me of our desperate need for Him.

And yet, I am realizing that I need to be more prayerful about how involved God wants me in each situation. I need to really search my heart and examine my motives in each case. Is it God moving me--or my prideful belief that I can fix something God cannot or will not.

When I act out of my flesh rather than from God's leading, I will sin. It is quite possible I am trying to rescue people from situation and/or circumstance God would have them walk through for their sanctification. It is akin to someone showing up to my work out group midway through and telling us to quit early because they have brought milkshakes. It probably made them feel better to 'rescue' people in pain, but it is the resistance and the challenge of the work out is exactly what is being used to make us stronger. Their 'rescue' was short term.

So, I am praying for wisdom to know how to love people practically, yet in a way that points back to their Savior. I am also praying for the courage to really examine my heart motives and the discernment to know when my efforts, however 'good' they seem are not godly.

And the funny thing is, I already feel lighter, healthier and more joyful. God's grace IS sufficient when I am walking in the light of HIS Will rather than my own.


Michelle said...

Hi! I've been reading your blog for about 3 years now. Have you ever thought about writing a devotional book? Seriously, I know I've said on numerous occasions when I've read your post for the day or when I'm telling someone about your post that I read, "She's a great writer. She should write a devotional book."

P.S. A big, gigantic, huge ROLL TIDE!! to you. ;)

-Crystal said...

I agree with michelle! Totally pray about writing a devotional!
Also, if you haven't already, I recommend the book 1000 Gifts! great book!
I struggle with loving people "practically" as well. It's easy, but yet I seem to think it is oh so impossible!

Diane Tohline said...

Hmmm - I've said that too about you writing a devotional book. That's three!

This is such a hard lesson to learn. How to care without carrying the burden.

How to love, and listen, and be a sounding board, without taking the place of the Savior.

If we don't learn the lesson, we get burned out and retreat or we get deluded and think we can help and fix all who need it.

Lord, help us to follow You in reaching out to those You would have for us, and to what degree we are to help.

Thanks for this post.

sunflowerroad said...

Thank you for the reminder. I'm not a mother yet (someday, Lord willing), but here at the school I teach, there is a dorm-full of junior high and high school students who have nestled themselves into my heart (whether they know it or not). So many times I want to fight their battles for them and intervene, where instead I need to be allowing God to work in the situation.

At times I feel like a mother to those students, and on numerous occasions I have been reminded of God's sovereignty over those young lives as I've read your blog.

Thank you for your honesty and encouragement!

-Nicole B.

Peter and Nancy said...

This post rings true for me too. I have to guard against overreaching into God's territory, while still being committed to walking through real life with the people God has placed in front of me. I think a good question to ask is how much time I'm spending thinking about someone's problems when I'm not with them. I can overthink instead of praying when I'm taking on too much of the burdern.