Lenten Reflections: Refusing To Reframe My Past, Embracing Truth

This reflection is challenging.

I know I’m often tempted to “work backwards” from my desired outcome/impression/position to fashion or refashion a narrative that suits my purpose. When talking to folks who weren’t there and who have no way to verify any other version of the story I might tell, I can tweak things so I come out on top.

Jesus doesn’t put up with that.

In His Holy Week encounter with religious leaders He forced them to answer His question before He would answer theirs:

Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while He was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism-where did it come from ? Was it from heaven or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, From heaven, he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’-we are afraid of the people for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Matthew 21:23-27 NIV

When, after discussion among themselves in which they could not find an answer that would suit their purpose (as opposed to simply answering truthfully) they refused.

So Jesus also refused to answer them.

Jesus wants truth from me.

Not because He doesn’t already know it but because it’s important for me to admit it.

As long as I insist on presenting or framing things my way, whether in an effort to avoid pain or in an effort to retain power, I am resisting the touch of the Potter.

I am only pliable when I am honest.

Revisionism is a deadly form of self-deception and a formidable foe of intimacy with God.

Alicia Britt Chole

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

Unwanted Assignment: Enrolled in the School of Suffering

I have written before that Grief is Not a Hammer in the Hand of God.

I do not for one minute believe that the Lord I love inflicted this pain on me for the purpose of “teaching me something”.

But I absolutely, positively believe that He can use it (and HAS used it) to make me more compassionate, kinder and more grace-filled than I was before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.

Still, “becoming” is painful and requires that I submit to the hand of the Potter.

Grieving is not passive. Suffering isn’t something that happens to you and then you ride a wave of emotions until the circumstances quell. Suffering is like school, and grieving is how we accomplish the coursework. It’s not the kind of education anyone signs up for. But, when devastation enters our lives, we are automatically enrolled into the seminar on suffering. And, just as we would prepare for any class, we must download the syllabus and begin to faithfully complete the assignments.

Ann Maree Goudzwaard

This is truly insightful.

I think that’s what makes the difference between finding a meaningful way to live in the “after” or not.

Of course, at first NO ONE is keen to “download the syllabus”.

Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.

James 1:2-4 TLB

So for those of you fresher on this journey, don’t be dismayed or discouraged!

But at some point, what I (and others) refer to as “grief work” must be done.

In the meantime, I pray that the God of all hope fills you with His grace and strength and helps you hold onto hope-even on the days you feel overwhelmed and abandoned. 

Learning To Be Yielded And Still

I first shared this four years ago when I was still in the early days of mourning Dominic. Our family was facing the third set of holidays with an empty chair at the table.

Life since then has been full of additional challenges and loss.

I still rebel sometimes at the road I’m asked to walk.

But I am more convinced than ever that when I yield my life and heart to the Master Potter, He will mold me and make me into the likeness of Jesus.

And that’s really who I want to be-even if it hurts.

I can’t claim to be satisfied with this life I’m living.  

do not like this path I am forced to walk, this darkness that hides the light, this pain that burrows deep in my bones.

But I can say I’m learning not to fight it.  

Sometimes I still pitch a fit.  

Read the rest here: Yielded and Still

Beautifully Broken

God can take what Satan meant for shame and use it for His glory. Just when we think we’ve messed up so badly that our lives are nothing but heaps of ashes, God pours His living water over us and mixes the ashes into clay. He then takes this clay and molds it into a vessel of beauty. After He fills us with His overflowing love, He can use us to pour His love into the hurting lives of others.
― Lysa TerKeurst

Every single heart has a wounded place.

Every. One.

heart with pieces breaking off

 

Don’t cover it up. 

Share it with safe people who can help you shake off the shame.  Let others in.  You may be surprised how many share your own brand of brokenness.   

Heart to heart, hand in hand, walk together toward Home.  

were all just walking each other home

God sees the tears you hide; He has not abandoned you.  

He loves you and will weave these hard and painful things into the tapestry of your life. 

He longs to touch your heart at just the place you need healing and bring beauty from ashes.

And then fill you with love and grace to share the healing hope of Christ with others.  

beautifully broken

Willing Submission or Fatalism?

I have to be completely honest-I’m not sure at all that my heart is truly submissive.  It may just be that I figure, “What’s the point of resisting God?”. 

Paul told the Roman believers to “present your bodies as living sacrifices”. 

Trouble is, living sacrifices can (and do!) crawl off the altar.  

I’m trying to stay there, subtle and malleable under the hand of the God Who made me.  But unlike inanimate clay, I feel every pummel, slap and squeeze as He continues to mold me into the image of Christ.

potter-clay

Some days I’m better at it than others.  Honestly, I think I’m better at it when I feel it most.  Because then I recognize the bits that need changing, the attitudes that need adjusting, the habits that need to go.

But when it’s little things-judging someone by his outer appearance or demanding my “rights” as a customer from a tired store clerk or even impatiently charging through the house ignoring a phone call because I “have to get (whatever) done!”-that’s when I want out from under the hand of God.

Then there are the REALLY big things that I always balk at. 

Why do I have to be ill when I have so much to do?  Why my child?  Why do all the appliances need replacing at once?  Why are relationships so darn hard?  Why won’t my RA go into remission?  Why did the hurricane make its way right over my parents’ home?

Why, why, why?

And I find myself back at the beginning because truth told, I can’t do a thing about any of that. 

Am I willingly submitting to what God allows in my life or am I simply accepting it because there’s no use resisting?  

It’s a daily battle. 

Still, Eternal One, You are our Father. We are just clay, and You are the potter. We are the product of Your creative action, shaped and formed into something of worth.

Isaiah 64:8 VOICE

 

 

New Year, New You?

January is the month of resolutions and new beginnings!

So I boldly declare that THIS year I will (take your pick):

  • Lose weight
  • Eat only healthy food
  • Exercise more
  • Read more books
  • Declutter my house
  • Spend more time with family
  • Spend less time with electronics
  • Blah,blah,blah

Wouldn’t it be grand if all it took was the turn of a calendar page to make all things new?

How wonderful if I could wipe the slate clean and start afresh just because the earth had made another round of the sun!

But the average length of time these commitments last is just 7-10 days. (Which by now, most of us have already found out.)

Why?

Because we can rarely make sweeping changes that go against habits and character traits just because we say it aloud or write it on a special piece of paper.

new-years-resolutions-list

Life’s not like that.

Life is an amalgamation of thousands of small and a few not-so-small choices that combine to make me who I am.

Choices become habits and habits become character.

And then there are the other thingsthe things I didn’t choose-that slam into me and violently reshape who I am-ready or not.

How I respond to what I can’t control continues to remake who I am.

There is ONE resolution that can remake me from the inside out.

There is one habit that that will not only make THIS year new, but will make ME new.

There is a single choice that I can make every day that will affect me and everyone around me.

It’s not hard, but there will be resistance.  It doesn’t require special equipment, but it requires commitment.  I don’t have to be in shape-as a matter of fact, the more out-of-shape I am, the more remarkable the transformation.

If I place my heart in the hands of Jesus by sitting in silence with Him each day, reading His Word and asking Him to open my eyes to the beauty He places in my path-even this rocky road of child loss-He will renew my mind and transform my character so that I am conformed to His image.

He is the Potter.

The work is His.

I am the clay.

he who began a good work in you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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