The Breaking

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24 NIV

Do you ever question why things happen to you? I think, especially, if we find similar things happen to us repeatedly we begin to wonder why.

I have noticed recently how it seems how things constantly are happening that change my plans. Someone else chooses for me, and it all is out of my control leaving me feel angry and frustrated.

I am a planner, sometimes down to the hour. I blame it on having been a teacher and always needing to have a lesson plan. A certain plan for every moment. So, I feel anxious when things are left unplanned. And I feel more anxious when things I have planned are randomly changed by someone else. This means I have to rearrange my entire schedule to accommodate the new plan. But it keeps happening, and I keep feeling anxious and frustrated.

Interesting. I just realized that the Lord is trying to get my attention. Now recently two days in a row in my time with the Lord, in two different studies, He has brought me head on with the verse printed at the beginning of this post. It seems that a part of my life’s recalibration will be about being broken and learning to surrender. Once again, I must willing to abandon control.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean explains what true brokenness means in this way:

“True brokenness means losing all faith in your own abilities, abandoning all dependence on human resources, and disavowing all outward pretensions of righteousness to cling to the Spirit of God as if to a lifeline.” (from He Restores My Soul: A Forty-Day Journey Toward Personal Renewal p. 27)

Definitely not an easy lesson. It screams trust and letting go and I am not good at either one. Even so, I know, God’s lessons are always for our good and His glory.

Just last year, the Lord showed me that trying to change someone so things can be accomplished in my way and timing is a recipe for frustration. Besides He has a better way! I was amazed at how the He worked in the midst of the situation when I released control to Him. He worked it all out in ways I could not begin to manipulate. So now, once again, I am seeing there is more He wants me to let go of.

The struggle is and has been for a long time about “my time.” I want to and have continued to try to control what I think is “my time.” I am realizing that I am working really hard to please others, to do the right thing, yet I continually come away frustrated and resentful. Those feelings come out of doing things that feel like obligations in order to people-please and having the doing of them use up “my time.” So then when I come to the end of my day, or my week, and I find that my personal to-do list is left unfinished it leaves me feeling upset. Angry, resentful, and frustrated! But His way is different, it is all about being reckless in love, not about me and my list and timing!

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go,  reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. “

John 12:24-25 MSG

When something is reckless, it is not necessarily planned out carefully. This “reckless love, ” He is calling me to live out, is all about being Spirit-led not planned out according to my timing. This means that the breaking is about breaking my will to control and have my way with “my time.” Surrender. And I have learned and continue to recognize the need in me at the bottom of all of this is still the need to earn love and hold tightly to it so as not to lose the love.

The problem is that my fists are clinging so tightly and I am trying to clutch the love I so desperately need but it seems that being reckless in love can only come out of trusting with reckless abandon. I cannot control it all. The Lord wants me to let go of control and trust Him with reckless abandon, and then in His gracious tender-heartedness He will provide the love I seem to so desperately need.

He has shown me this, and even so, I struggle with letting go, I continue to grab on and hold on to getting love in my way as if my life depends upon it. Like a little child I throw a tantrum when my life or plan is interrupted. I am obviously not there yet.

So, as I travel this journey to recalibrate life I can see that it is going to involve a breaking of self, a lot more trust, and more letting go than I had initially anticipated. Once again, I thought I had it a planned out, but God is showing me it is all about His timing and His plans. And, oh, His plans and timing are so very different from my own! My way is comfortable and safe, but it seems that will not be the road I will be travelling.

There is so much we must release to the Lord. Learning to trust is a life-long lesson, and often the breaking requires challenges that are very uncomfortable because we must learn to live by His ways. Thankfully, the Lord knows the path of brokenness and surrender, He has travelled it to the cross, and He is the One leading. So I can be confident in His wisdom and learn to follow, growing in trusting, even though the way produces fear in me as I slowly follow.

How about you? How is the Lord challenging you to change and grow? Are you with me learning on the path of brokenness and surrender?

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The Weight of Life

Are you seemingly sinking under the weight of life?

I have been doing a Kim Avery online-Bible study titled Life Overflowing, it is on the book of Ephesians. It’s an excellent study, with audio lessons and a worksheet for note-taking for each lesson. I was writing about it in my journal and inadvertently wrote “Life Overwhelming” instead of Life Overflowing. Those kind of moments help you to see where you are really at in life. We get so caught up in our lives, sometimes we don’t even realize how it is all affecting us.

Shauna Niequist, in her book Present over Perfect, tells about how she found herself at the point of hating her life. She had pushed and pushed, hustled and hustled. She tried to do everything to live up to expectations, and to fulfill obligations, and she came to the place of being exhausted as well as often sick. The weight of life had become too heavy for her.

Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe you have too many things packed into your days; too much to do, too many people to meet with, too much help to give, and an overload of work to accomplish. What is the bottom line? Shauna came to realize that she was trying to make things perfect, and trying to be the responsible one”” who could handle everything. She also found that her striving stemmed from a “cavernous ache” inside of her heart. It was about her need to be loved, so she tried to earn love that she didn’t feel she could receive apart from doing.

God’s love is unconditional. We are not loved by God because of anything we do or have done. He loves us because He created us. He wants a relationship with us. He loves us even though He knows our limitations.

You would think knowing these truths would help us to recognize that the pressure is off, but that often is not the case. We go on striving to find satisfaction within by doing more and more.

We end up believing the Enemy’s lies and then try to fill the hole inside with personal attempts to get love by doing.

All too often we try to impress others with our busyness, and our self-importance. Shauna explains how she chose to change that in her life. We can also choose to make changes. Like Shauna, we can make an intentional effort in our lives to encourage each other to find rest. We can find special ways to support one another. We can help others to see that they do not need to do more and more in their lives.

Shauna demonstrates the importance of knowing the Father’s love so that you no longer need to prove yourself.  When we know God’s love, we learn to love self in healthy ways and then show respect for others.

Reading about this led me to ask myself some questions, questions that I want to share with you for you to also contemplate. It begins by evaluating where you are in the struggle for perfection and also recognizing how weighed down you feel. So consider the following. I found that setting aside some time to journal really helped me.

  • Where are you finding your worth? Is your worth found in your accomplishments or in your busyness?
  • Is there something you are trying to prove?
  • What is the “cavernous ache” within you saying?
  • What is the need deep inside?
  • Who can you reach out to for help? Who can share the weight of life with you? Who can help you carry the heavy burdens of your life?
  • What do your feelings and response to life say about your relationship with the Lord?
  • Is His love enough? What do you need to talk with Him about?

These are important and difficult questions, some of which are only answered over much time and contemplation. But the answers can help you make important changes.

We have to decide what really matters. Each decision Shauna needed to make led her to consider two things. She began to base her decisions about how she would answer people’s requests for her to do something by checking to see if the choice at hand fit into her purpose and secondly, if it would bring her love. There was no more settling for an unsatisfying substitute in striving.

She discovered that often the things she pushed herself to do had not been about her purpose, and more often than not, she did not find love in the end. Instead, she found herself exhausted and feeling sick.  

The should’s, the have-to’s, the people-pleasing choices do not bring us love. They lead to resentment. They lead us to feel like we are carrying around boulders. There are only 24 hours in a day and we can only accomplish so much. What are the boulders in your life? What is weighing you down? Think about it and take it to the Lord in prayer.

  • We can speak honestly about where we are with our Heavenly Father. He knows.
  • We can come to Him with our worn-out lives and seek Him for wisdom and help.
  • We can find His love to fill the emptiness within to help keep us from striving in life.

And most importantly, we can find refreshment in His presence and in staying present in our lives.

I hope that you will find the refreshment our Heavenly Father longs for you to have in knowing the depths of His love for you.