God’s Not Ok with Me

A beautiful, wonderful, sweet friend of mine shared this on her Facebook today, from author Lysa TerKeurst:

Say this with me today… God is okay with me even when I’m not okay with me. (And that’s a beautiful truth!)
Lysa didn’t post any scripture with her status, just this sentence.  I read it.  I read it again.  I read it a third, fourth and fifth time.  Then I stared at the wall for a few minutes.  Why did this simple, feel good sentence bother me so much? It’s a wonderful concept, rooted in great intentions… but the whole thing just bugged the snot out of me.
I responded to my friend’s status (though I try not to share such opinions when they aren’t solicited… but this was like a thorn in my foot!) with the following:
So…I read this about 5 times. Chewed on it a bit and thought about it… and here ‘s what I came up with. God isn’t always ok with me, even when I am ok with me. I’m most definitely a work in progress.Paul says, ““In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:4-6

I’ll agree that He *loves* me, even when I don’t love me, and I think *that’s* a beautiful truth.

It wasn’t long before my post was seen, and replied with (by a third person):
God may not be ok with our behavior sometimes, but he is always ok with us because of the work Christ did for us. We may not be ok with our children’s behavior all the time, but we are still ok with them because they are ours.
I respectfully disagree (though I took my own advice and didn’t reply), because I think being “ok” with someone and loving them are two very different things.  While God’s love is unfailing, that doesn’t mean He’s “always ok” with us.  If my son turns out to be a drug addicted bank robber- I will still love him.  That doesn’t mean I’d be “ok” with him. I’d see need for drastic change.  I think God sees the same in us.  Grace covers our sins and, as a child of The Father. I am forgiven.  However, again, that doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done and growing to accomplish.  I have so much to do, and there is so much to be done in me!  Do I have to be “ok” with Little Man’s decisions to love him? Certainly not.  Will I believe in God’s word, and continue to love the living snot out of him while praying for a direction in his life that aligns with God’s will? Oh, you betcha.  Daily.
I surely wasn’t looking to open a debate on the topic.  I was just very perplexed about the whole thing, and couldn’t let it go for whatever reason.
On the same token but kinda different token (yep), I started thinking about all of those who speak on God’s behalf, often in a seemingly flippant manner.  I’ve always been a little put off by books written in the first person of God’s viewpoint.  I think there’s a Book where He spoke for himself plenty.  Do I think we need to dig deeper, meditate on His word and grow from it? Oh, without hesitation! Yes! I just think we should use a lot of discernment in whom we place our trust to help us form those opinions.
The Bible isn’t all feel good and sugar sweet. I’ll even go as far as to say that “love” isn’t God’s pinnacle attribute (a lesson, learned from my pastor, that has stuck with me).  God’s pinnacle attribute is holiness.  Everyone wants to say God is love and God is just.  Yeah, He is. However, I feel the reason we have both sides is because they’re tied together in Holiness.  You’ve got to take the good with the hard to swallow, but that’s another post for another day.
My point is this- take the Word, the whole Word and nothing but the Word.  Meditate on it, pray about it and beware of cherry picking as we all tend to want to do.  Also, I’m so thankful God isn’t through with me, yet.  We’re fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and daily molded to serve His purpose.
Xoxoxo,
Brandi
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Only a Test?

I smile a lot.

Not just because I’m generally a happy person, but because I often feel like I’m on Candid Camera, and I want to make sure they’ve got my best side. Unfortunately, no one has come out of the woodwork to tell me I was going to be a television star.  Maybe my whole life is on Candid Camera? Maybe this is The Truman Show? Maybe I need some chocolate.  Yeah, that’s probably it.

Sometimes, though, you have to wonder.  Are these people for real? Is this how they live their daily lives? Can they vote? Do they really have a drivers license? When do I meet Snookie?  On the other hand, I’ve often found myself in the same herd as “those” people.  Making silly decisions and asking why they don’t salt the inside of a sunflower seed instead of wasting it on the outside.  My poor husband can attest to the many things he’s restrained himself from posting on Facebook.

Other times, the situations aren’t so entertaining. I frequently check in on a blog called Neon Fresh and, a couple of days ago, the author (Roo) posted about an experience she had with a rep from her credit card company that ended up making her lose her patience.  Her Preacher’s wife told her that these moments were to be thought of as character tests, and she should think that her only job is to pass them.

Bam.

Character is defined as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” In the past couple of weeks, I’ve faced a few of these character tests.  Some of them are repeatedly issued. I’d be willing to say we face them nearly daily.  Boss is a jerk? Character test.  Lady in front of you in the 25 items or less line has 43 items? Character test.  Son spilled Kool-Aid on the new white carpet? Character, patience and does-nature-really-make-me-want-to-protect-my-young test.  I’d have to admit, I’ve not always passed these tests (except the last one. His carpet may have some new red tie-dye, but he doesn’t seem to mind).  In fact, as I grow daily, I often find in reflection ways that would have been much more effective in coping with these situations.  I talk about them.  Out loud. To myself in the shower.  It’s not weird.  Right? Totally not weird.

What Roo’s blog didn’t say, but what I was haunted by, was what comes next.  After passing a character test, I think we’re often tasked with a “Grace” test.

The word “Grace” comes from the latin “gratia” meaning “pleasing or thankful.”  In the above situations, being “pleasing” and/or “thankful” are not my immediate reactions.  No… screaming, yelling and dirty looks come so much more inherently. While Christian character is defined by the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23– “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”), I don’t always find my own imperfect heart defaulting to these things.  It’s a process.  As God strips away the old, He doesn’t do it secretly (and, it’s not always painless).  Often, as I’ve heard said, He issues the test before the lesson. And, why not? Shouldn’t we clearly see what we’re lacking before trying to understand how we can improve?

Yesterday, I had a character test and today I’m facing my grace test.  After a terrible day at work, I went home and cried. Like a baby.  I don’t cry a lot, but when I do the flood gates open.  It was loud enough that my husband came running into our bedroom to see what was going on.  He’s the strong, silent type.  So he did what he does best- he listened.

This morning, I woke up with a still heavy heart. I dreaded coming in today and I wanted to avoid contact with the boss all together.  I talked to God on my commute  and whined some more.  “But, I don’t deserve to be treated this way.  I give respect to others, so why am I not seeing that reflected in my direction? What gives anyone the right to be such a jerk?”  I was reminded of someone else that faced a lot of opposition that He didn’t deserve.  Then my prayer changed a bit.  I asked that God give me the words to say as I walked into the Lion’s den.  Make every word count.  Make them a reflection of my status as a daughter of the King.  I prayed for my boss and for his well being.

Today, my task is to be a light and show grace when I have the opportunity.  It’s hard and it’s bitter and it would be so much easier to be hateful.  However, all that does is give way to the snowball effect.

So, today I’ll smile and remind myself to show mercy when the opportunity is offered to me.  I may not end up on some random Camera TV show, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have an audience.

Some thoughts:

  • Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:11-12
  •  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, -Matthew 5:44
  •  The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.-2 Timothy 2:24-26
  • Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. –James 1:12

Sending Love,

Brandi

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