Friday, July 29, 2011

Frustrated but Grateful

Today I got to spend the day out on the open seas—well a brown, muddy, bath-water river that is. I got to boating with a precious friend and two of my nieces. Even though I refused to tube or ski, eventually I got in the water it wasn’t so bad. We had plenty of laughs, snarkiness, punches, and pictures to forever remember the joy of this day—but more then any of this, I will remember the conversations shared today more then anything else—there is nothing more freeing then real conversation between friends. There is just something about being honest—real—vulnerable really, that is invigorating and liberating to me.

Tonight, I am frustrated but grateful.
I am frustrated that everything appears black and white in my brain.

Out on the boat, I was starving. We had three bags of chips to snack on. Here I am battling it out in my head—which one has less chemicals then the other? If I only eat a few, it couldn’t be that bad. No, don’t eat any—think about what all those preservatives will do to your body! I’ll just wait for dinner.

It’s dinner, finally. My niece asks me to try a sip of her drink. Without even thinking twice—No, I don’t wanna drink that—SICK. You put sweet n’ low in it…do you have any idea how bad that is for you? It’s full of chemicals.

But I am grateful that I have knowledge of both black—and white.

For so many years of my life, I feasted on processed, chemically-infused foods at every meal. While I still need to learn balance—paint some gray into my brain—ignorance is no longer bliss. I feel better. My body is functioning normally. I am healthier. Yet, I must learn to silence my opinions on food and health once in a while—not everyone wants to hear about the chemicals they’re ingesting as I speak about it, if you know what I mean. Completely understandable. Lord, help me find a healthy balance—in sharing what I’m learning with family and friends, as well as in my personal life and health.  

I am frustrated that sometimes I am so set in what I believe that I fail in having gentleness and compassion to hear—and to speak.

Dating and marriage, birth control, submission as a wife, nutrition, and Jesus—some of the most controversial issues in our world today—just happen to be some of the ones I am most passionate about. Though my motives are pure and I desire to impart hard lessons learned to others who haven’t been there yet—save ‘em the heartache—I can’t be the holy spirit. I hate that I raise my voice to be heard in the midst of heated conversation—that I cut others off to get a few more words in. As if those extra words will make it “click” for them (as if it will cause them to agree with me). I mean, there couldn’t possibly be another way—another journey to get to the same place—another option—another conviction. I am always right you know (sarcasm, friends). Oh Lord, help me to be slower to speak and quicker to listen...forgive my impatience and pride. This isn’t you—this isn’t who I want to be, what I want to represent to the world. But tonight, that was my aroma—sour and judgmental.

But I am grateful that the Lord has placed such strong convictions upon my heart.

I never used to care. Generations to come will be changed by Your work in my heart today. This is real—this is life. I don’t have to compromise the convictions you have engrained so deeply in recent months and years, but I do have to learn gentleness and compassion in sharing them with others—in loving others who don’t share in them. In speaking out of love and purity, rather then defensiveness and pride.

I am frustrated at how easily I forget the process that got me here—and the one that is getting me through today.

Tonight, as I was talking about a friend who struggles with legalism following an ashes to beauty salvation transformation, I felt a gentle tug. Okay, holy spirit—now what? I am NOT legalistic. Are you kidding me?? I am not at all—I love people well. I understand the depravity of man—I am close to my own—I know that apart from you, I am hopeless. I am saved by grace through faith—not by my own works. I HATE religion. I don’t even like to call myself a Christian—I love Jesus. This is about an intimate relationship with Him—not adding church to the to-do list each week.

Conviction continues as we drive home—battling it out. You’re not in the Word outside of church—sinner? You listen to songs with cuss words—and you still love Jesus? You made out with your boyfriend—well that was stupid? You would drink when you’re underage—hypocrite? Okay, maybe I’ve dabbled in legalism—but I’m not as bad as her. Come on—I just have different convictions okay?

The Lord ever so gently reminded me—of course you have different convictions—we’ve been walking this out for awhile now. How many years did it take you before you read your bible just once a week—in fact didn’t it get a little dusty a few months back? Don’t you remember when you shouted those lyrics from the top of the bleachers with your friends—and thought you were so cool? Don’t you remember that one night with that boy—I’m pretty sure there was some mouth to mouth? Didn’t you just want to try a sip—just that one time?

Okay, okay, okay. PLEASE STOP ALREADY!!!! I get it—I’ve messed up. I’ve done life where I didn’t have the same convictions I do today—and I didn’t know any better. Even five years ago—if someone would have said some of the things that I just spoke so boldly and convincingly to other girls, I think I would have rolled my eyes and run further from the church—from Christ. But here I am, not who I was and not who I want to be. This is the trap of my time on this earth—making it through the process—growing—yet longing for the fulfillment of eternity with You. Lord, engrain this upon my impure heart, my judgmental eyes, my quick tongue—life, this journey with you—it is a PROCESS for all of us—and we will all start at different times—some will walk, some will sprint, some will crawl their way through the mountains and valleys of this journey—and it will end at different times too. Lord, remind me—remind me how far I have come and how far I have to go. Teach me PATIENCE—equip me to be grace-giving to all around me walking through the process, honest yet wise with my tongue and pure of heart.     

But I am grateful that I am not who I was five years ago, five months ago or even five days ago.
I once was blind but now I see. As the years, months and even days go by of knowing You, I think I just continue to further understand the extent of my blindness and the desperation of my need to see through You. 

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