Friday, June 17, 2011

Not Meant for Me to Carry

I'm behind.  Never would I have dreamed that to be possible.  HA HA!  Almost every project I'm working on I'm finding myself 2-3 days behind.  I spent quite a bit of time tonight working on catching up and I made progress.  Though we try to live by our "technology curfew" to make sure we have plenty of one-on-one interaction AND white space in our lives, sometimes you just need to bend the rules.  Tonight I find myself "bending". 

I've already posted two blogs today and now I'm tackling a third because I can't sleep until I get the words down on paper typed. Tonight while I was working through note taking from Stormie Omartian's book "The Power of a Praying Wife", I found God stirring again to make sure I slowed down and listened.  Though I thought this praying challenge and book would be more about Kevin, it has been MUCH more about changing my own heart and regrouping my own focus!

I got really caught up in the chapter about "His Trials".  Between Stormie's writing, some pretty intense conversations I had tonight with a family member (not intense as in fighting, just intense as in "deep" and "heart-wrenching"), and the blog posts I wrote earlier today, I found God really talking to me.  I discovered another reason I am going through positive change (as talked about earlier today).  I just didn't recognize it until it was just "starring" me in the face tonight.

I am beginning to realize that I can't carry the weight of everyone else and that has brought such peace and contentment in my life.  I've spent so much time trying to "take on the world".  I feel incredibly deep burdens for individuals and REALLY want to help.  I would tend to get so wrapped up in that, that I carried the weight.  I NEEDED someone (more than one!) to change their lifestyle and make better choices, I ached for someone to accept me unconditionally that didn't,etc...  I get VERY wrapped up in other people's burdens.  Wanting to help and have a tender heart can be a good thing, but it can also be detrimental.

Somewhere along the line, I realized I could no longer do it in the capacity I was attempting.  I have not become calloused.  I have not closed my eyes to those suffering and those turning against God.  I'm actually more in touch with those things.  However, my approach is different.  At some point, I began to learn how to separate myself from it.  It is STILL a very HUGE struggle I face constantly, but yet I'm making progress.  I'm finding it a bit easier to turn it over to God and give HIM the control in the situation.  Many times our roles should be to just pray, encourage, and then LET GOD HANDLE THE REST!  It somewhat goes along with the idea that the only person I can change is myself.   I have zero control over other people's situations. 

In finally slowly learning this "letting go", I do believe is when I did start the process of becoming more joyful.  My heart still aches for people constantly, but yet I don't carry the weight so squarely on my shoulders.  There truly are people and situations that I can do nothing to help.  Only God can make the way when there seems to be no way!  Releasing myself from that pressure HAS been tremendous in restoring my joy and creating more balance in my life.

Though Stormie is specifically speaking about husbands, her words can apply to so many other relationships in our daily lives.  "If your husband is going through a difficult time, carry it in prayer, but DON'T carry the burden.  God doesn't want you doing HIS job!  He doesn't want you trying to be the Holy Spirit to your husband.  Even though it hurts to see him struggle and you want to fix it, you can't.  You can pray, encourage, and support, but God uses trials for His purpose and you must stay out of His way. "  It is my responsibility to pray sincerely on behalf of people and I believe encouragement is one of my gifts that I should practice often, but I'm not meant to carry the weight of the burden!  What a relief!!!!

She also talked about trials in general and it moved me considerably!  She says:  "Everyone goes through hard times.  It's nothing to be ashamed of.  Sometimes our prayers help us to avoid them.  Sometimes not.  It's the attitude we have when we go through them that matters most. If we are filled with anger, bitterness, or insist on complaining and blaming God, things tend to turn out badly.  If we go through them with thankfulness and praise to God, He promises to bring good things despite them."  She goes on to say later in the chapter: "Whether it feels like it or not, when we serve God, His love attends every moment of our lives---even the toughest, loneliest, most painful and desperate.  He is always there in our midst, working things out for good when we pray and look to Him to do so.  His purpose for our trials is often to bring us humbly before Him to experience a breaking in our inner, independent, self-sufficient selves, and grow up into compassionate, patient, spiritually strong, God-glorifying people. "  Did you catch that?  It's basically saying that without trials we become shallow, compassionless, impatient people!!!  Our trials keep us connected to Him and rids us relying solely on ourselves!  I would MUCH rather be a woman that is God-glorifying than shallow and compassionless.  Isn't it true that our greatest compassions often come from our own heartache?  When you've experienced something hurtful you naturally want to reach out and help someone else suffering the same. 

I also LOVED how she ended the chapter.  I often think of the process of refining (which is obvious from my blog name!).  It has often moved me closer to God to remember that each day He can take me, refine me, and make me more like him IF I ALLOW HIM to!  She talks about how trials can be purifying fire and cleansing water.  We don't want to get burned or drown!  Our focus should be about being refined and renewed!!!!!   As I finally head off to bed tonight,  I know that I'm going to be thanking God that though I may be facing trials from every direction and my faith has been stretched, I am thankful that He is keeping me from getting burned or drowning.  He is allowing the trials to connect me to Him and refining the rough edges to be more like Him.  Is it painful?  Absolutely.  Worth it?  Without a doubt!  Would I rather skip it and move to the end result?  MANY times!  Since none of us can, we just have to embrace it and let the process take place.  The results will be worth every bit of struggle! 

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