Monday, September 23, 2013

How to Permanently Transform Your Life and Become Whole (Part 1)

Cease striving and know that I am God…
Psalm 46:10

            It’s amazing what happens when you stop running, stop avoiding, stop doing, stop resisting, stop hiding in the dark, and take a good, L-O-N-G, honest look at yourself. Really examine yourself, your goals…your life’s purpose.
            It’s tough, and often horribly uncomfortable.
            Yet so revealing and rewarding.  
            When Chris and I ceased striving, unexpected joys and revelations bloomed as we drew close and developed intimate friendships with church members.
            We recognized the need to communicate more with one another. That meant really listening to the other person’s hopes, concerns, and fears; to make a concerted effort to recognize their needs instead of concentrating so fiercely on our own.
            We admitted that there are so many things in life over which we have no control, that “having it all” is a big, destructive, worldly marketing myth. We realized—painfully—that there were so many aspects of our life together we’d neglected and failed to nourish.
            The harried life I’d eagerly ascribed to left me with little time to enjoy the many gifts the Creator had bestowed upon my family and me. Blindly, foolishly, we were fine-tuning the classic American, throw-away lifestyle. It wasn’t so much the material goods we acquired, then ignored when boredom set in. (Chris and I were proudly criss-crossing Southern California in two bare-bones vehicles, displaying a combined mileage/odometer total of 400,000 miles).
            It was human life we’d taken for granted.
            The insidious stress—much of it brought on by our arrogant, misguided decisions and poor choices—was killing us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and I’d had enough. The cost was too high, the rewards too few. (Because he’s the press ahead, make-it-happen now, visionary type, Chris took a little longer, and a few more years and deep disappointments to relent.)  
            I needed to stop, pry open my eyes, and acknowledge what God gave me for my pleasure and enjoyment simply because He’s good, it pleases Him to do it, and He loves me.  
            Nothing I could work twenty-four hours a day for would ever compare to the masterpieces God created and gave to me: my husband, my son, my family, my friends, Victoria. Precious people, inherently worthy and priceless simply because they were created in the miraculous image of God.
            They should have been inestimable to me, but I’d taken their value for granted. I’d miscalculated their shelf life when misused, disregarded, ignored, left unpolished or neglected. Somewhere along the way, I’d forgotten, or dismissed, the value God Himself places on life. Even my own. I was jarred awake by our devastating loss; involuntarily driven head first into painful self-examination, and into making an honest relationship audit. The personal, self-analysis results shocked and disheartened me. There was a pile of dust on my very-important-people shelf—the ones I'd casually tucked away in my human china cabinet—and I needed to do some serious polishing!
            But in order to do a thorough, effective cleaning, I needed God’s help. I needed to abandon the arrogant self-sufficiency attitude. Trying to transform my life without Him would only land me right back where I started: floundering, in pain, lost. Minus the pressures of work and college classes, I was free to make the slow transition from a frazzled organism to a God-fearing woman of joy and purpose.
            Before that transformation could occur, it was necessary for me to return to the location of my Peniel, the place where you encounter God; where He confronts you. The place where He grabs hold of you, and the two of you wrestle. Where you finally give in, hang on, and BEG for Him to bless you. 
            But in order to go forward, I had to look back, to return to the place where God brought me in the hospital, when I first acknowledged my powerlessness without Him, first recognized how barren, frightening, confusing, chaotic and downright dull life is when you ignore, de-value, or reject God and go it alone.
            But just what would be different? I can’t remember when I didn’t believe that Jesus is Lord, the Son of God, who was nailed to a cross until death and then resurrected bodily from the dead.
            What more did I need to know? Wasn’t that enough?
            Now that I was finally being honest with myself, I knew instinctively there was so much more to know, so much more to understand.
            There was so much more with which to fill my aching, dying soul.

~ ~ ~

            Have you ever been where I was? Are you there now? Are you stuck? Are you in so much emotional pain you don’t know where to turn? Do you think no one understands, that no one cares?
            Someone does and He stands ready and oh, so willing to lead you out of the abyss, to heal and fill your soul, and make you whole.


NEXT WEEK: The Transformation Continues: What I encountered when I finally stopped resisting and turned my face toward God... 

Until next week,

Thanks for joining me!