Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Stuck in Neutral

Have you ever felt that just when you thought your journey had finally arrived at an easy smooth path, you suddenly are hit with something that interrupts that comfy feeling?  Maybe what really happened is that you were on that smooth and easy path for so long you actually were stuck in neutral, or worse have fallen asleep at the wheel!

I think this happens in my life.  I think sometimes I get stuck in neutral and possibly fall asleep at the wheel. When this happens, the only way I snap out of my stagnate mood is when I'm challenged and tested through circumstances. The result?  It forces me to take action because the pain, doubt, frustration and hopelessness that begins to surround me suffocate the life out of me. When I feel this way the only one person who can truly save me is ~ Christ ♥  While I was cruising in life, falling asleep at the wheel, He never left me.  I'm the one who always wanders into La-La land, falls asleep and gets stuck in neutral when I begin to think I can do life on my own.

We live in a world that is so self absorbed it can become toxic and addictive.  When this occurs, it become all about Me - Me - Me. I can do it! I want it my way! What about me?  Understandably, as we face hardships, there are times worthy of the need to have focus upon ourselves but, if we are not careful we can remain stuck there. Stuck in neutral, sleeping at the wheel, or even worse, try to put our gear in reverse! 

My past is a place where we I can get stuck and also a place where I can easily keep looking back.  Old unhealthy habits, patterns and behaviors are familiar and comfortable.  When this happens, we lie to ourselves by focusing only on the temporary good and pleasures of our old nature.  We fail to remember what pain, anger, sadness the old ways brought into our lives.

Reminding myself that God will not give me more than I can handle gives me hope that regardless of what I'm experiencing in my life today and the circumstances that are placed around me, it will never be too much that God won't make good on his promise to get me through it. 

My mind and my body may grow weak,
    but God is my strength;
 he is all I ever need. ~ Psalm 73:26

My week has been filled with words of discouragement, a testing of my heart and my faith in Christ as I surrender myself to Him.  

The words we speak to others can have long term and damaging effects.  Learning what it really means to genuinely love includes protecting others. Protecting others sometimes means we have to think about the effects of how and what we say may impact those around us.  It means sharing the truth in love. If this involves our need to share our own personal hurts, we need to really think about how sharing may impact both parties.  Greg Laurie has a great tool for evaluating if what we say.  He calls it the THINK method. 

T - Is it true? (Is it accurate information?)
H - Is it helpful? (Will sharing this information be helpful to the other person?)
I - Is it Inspiring?
N - Is it necessary? (Do we really need to share this information?)
K - Is it Kind?

Often, we speak without thinking about the effect it may have on the other party.  Perhaps we feel the need to share to make ourselves feel better and it may, but it should not be at the cost of hurting another.  Perhaps there is a deeper issue at hand which needs to be addressed, especially if it continues to arise. 

In my opinion, I do not believe all things shared can be helpful.  In working my 12 Step and making amends, there were some issues that would have caused greater harm to the other party than benefiting them if I had made my amends in person.  As much as it would have felt good for me to confront them, I also had to think about the effects it would have had on them.  It then became a heart issue for me.  I had to look at my true motive.  And when I was genuinely able to answer that question, I knew that the proper way to resolve this issue was directly with God, not the other person.

In Luke 6:21 is says, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be."  

This scripture is a good verse in gauging what you value in life.  Is it yourself?  Money? Health and Fitness? Relationships? Status? Education? Work? Material things? Social Media?

Over the weekend, my home was burglarized.  The thieves mostly took jewelry.  In addition to the jewelry being taken, the last few items that remained of my late father were also stolen.  The turn of events allowed me to look at why I held onto these last possessions with such a tight grip. I didn't even realize how much I did until I had time to reflect on it.  Although I have released from my heart the awful behavior and actions of my father, and have forgiven him, it become clearly apparent that I need to be honest and forgive the person who has made me aware of his actions in the first place.  Additionally, there has to be boundaries set of what we will and will not discuss about my father. My need to release this pain and set up boundaries were made perfectly clear by God this weekend. God was speaking to me, telling me to let go of all those treasures, truly forgive my offender in my heart and place my eyes upon the one who can heal and restore - STOP pretending I've healed and really allow myself to let it go.  I need to take my car out of neutral and put it in drive so God can take me on a journey filled with love, forgiveness, healing, hope, faith and joy!

As I surrender to Him completely (AGAIN) and give Him control of my entire being, only then will I find joy in everything, just as Paul found joy in many of the circumstances he encountered, good and bad.  

 Letting go doesn't mean we forget, it means we give it to God.  We no longer have to carry the burden of our hurt and pain.  We leave it at the cross at the feet of Jesus.  We no longer CHOOSE to remain stuck in neutral.  We get out of the drivers seat and allow God to drive us to our next destination.  

I came across a very intersting article about making peace with your past.  God has been slowly revealing where I need to heal in many parts of my life, in His timing, not giving me more than I can handle.  A quote in that article that stuck in my head and made a lot of sense:

 Just like the rear view mirror in your car, looking at the past gives us perspective, but if you’re staring at it all the time, you’re going to cause a wreck.

I'm tired of wrecking my car.  It's more exhausting trying to fix it than it is to just sit back and let God take control and map my ride. So I'm letting go.  I have a long way to go.  I have a lot of healing to do and it starts with getting honest with God.  

This morning as I listened to Living on the Edge, Pastor Chip Ingram said something along the lines of, "As God gets bigger, your problems get smaller."  It reminded me that no burden I carry is too big for my God. As I continue to have FAITH in Him and surrender, He will take upon my burdens. He will provide me comfort and peace. He will protect and love me because He is God who keeps His promises. In Him, I will find my joy, in each and every circumstance, even the ones that are unfavorable because as I give Him control of my health, my family, my relationships, my job, my finances, My LIFE.....He grows BIGGER.  

“Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30