OCCASIONALLY, WE ALL GO THERE

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Occasionally, we all go there… to that place of “what if”.  We ask our selves the questions that will take us back in time.

What if I made a different choice?

What if I took a different route?

What if I said something sooner?

What if I did things differently?

What if… what if… what if….

The problem is that “what if” is one of the enemies greatest tools to make us discontent with the blessings God has given to us.  “What if” makes us question the blessing, as if it wasn’t good enough.  It implies there may have been something better.  “What if” makes us look at an illusion of what could have been, instead of appreciating what is.  “What if” makes the grass look greener, life look better.  “What if” is also a lie.

Because, it never happened.  There is no guarantee that things would have turned out anywhere CLOSE to what our “what if” imagined.

“What if” tells us what we want to hear.  That some how life would be better, we would have more things, go more places, be happier.

“What if” comes with a price.

If we allow ourselves to buy in to the “what if” and dwell in those thoughts too long, we can find ourselves moving away from our blessings and becoming discontent.  And, in some cases, we will move mountains to make that “what if” a reality.  It seldom works out that way.  That “what if” can end up costing us everything.

To fight those “what if” thoughts we have to focus on the blessings.  We have to focus on what is good, noble and right.  We have to look to God and say THANK YOU for the blessings I never saw coming!

In our thanks we find contentment, and in our contentment we find happiness, and in our happiness we praise God for seeing and knowing more than we ever could.

And, in that praise, the best thing we can do is share those blessings with others.  When we have a peace and happiness that doesn’t make sense to others, they are intrigued.  They want to understand what is so different about us.

It is then we can say, in all honesty….

Myself, my life and my decisions may not be perfect… but my God is.   I trust in Him, because His word never fails.  He gives me the peace that is beyond understanding.  He gives me a hope and a future, greater than I could have ever imagined for myself.  My God loves me.  In His love, His sacrifice… I find contentment, peace and happiness.  It’s not that I don’t face trials and obstacles, I just don’t face them alone.

 

 

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SO RIGHT, I CAN’T BE WRONG

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Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you just KNOW you are right.  Perhaps you have talked it over with a friend (or several), or even talked to yourself about it.  Maybe you sought wise counsel from your husband or even hunted through the Word to justify your side of things.  You have presented yourself as right, you have dug your heels down in the ground, and convinced yourself that the other person was in the wrong.

You have done such a good job in convincing everyone, including yourself, that you were so right…. and then it happened.

You found out you were, in fact, wrong.

Now what do you do?

You are probably feeling a bit shocked and overwhelmed, and uncertain of how to handle the next step.  Pride would want us to ignore it and sweep it under the carpet.  “What’s done, is done”, Pride whispers in your ear.  You could convince yourself that this is now a learning experience, and move forward vowing to never allow that to happen again.  After all, you learned your lesson.

But, is that enough?

What about that person you wronged?  The person you slandered.  The person you gossiped about.  The person you hurt.  The person who deserves to hear an apology.

Admitting we are wrong is tough.

Growing up my Grandmother was not one to apologize.  If she was wrong, she had reason to be wrong.  I remember, as a child, I was known to grab my grandmother’s sewing scissors for art projects.  I loved those scissors.  They were strong and sharp.   In fact, one of the first things I bought when I learned to sew was a pair of scissors just like hers.  One day, my grandmother was looking for her scissors and couldn’t find them.  She accused me of taking them, but I was diligent in my defense that I hadn’t.  I explained that I hadn’t even been in the closet, I didn’t bring any crafts with me that day, and I had no use for them.  She didn’t believe me.  Convinced I took them and was careless with them, I was grounded to the couch.  I would have to stay there until I was willing to admit that I took them, remembered where they were, and apologized.  Despite my tear stained cheeks, she was adamant she was right.  I was confined to the couch to “think about what I did”.

Several hours would pass, when my sister would arrive home (she lived with my grandmother).  As she came in the house, she handed my grandmother the scissors and apologized for not putting them back when she was done with them.  Of course, being a young child, I chimed in “I told you I didn’t take them.”.  My grandmother turned, looked me in the eye and said “If you hadn’t taken them in the past, I would have not had a reason to blame you.  You can get up from the couch.”.

No apology.  No admission of wrong.  Instead I was still to blame for simply giving her reason to suspect me.

This is probably where my desire for justice comes from.  I want the truth to be known, I want blame to fall where it should, I hate when someone is falsely accused or set up to take the fall, I want fairness, I want the same honesty from others as I am willing to give.  In those moments when justice is not being delivered, it takes me back to my childhood… sitting on that couch.

When we allow pride to take over our heart and mind, and convince ourselves that we are in the right… it can be nearly impossible to admit when we are wrong.   We brush it under the carpet, hoping that everyone will forget.  We try to fix it through buying back the relationship through gifts or doing good deeds.  Or, we walk away leaving it unsettled; letting the broken relation stay broken vs. swallow our pride to fix it.

It’s hard to apologize, because first it requires our full recognition that we did something wrong.  Pride will hinder us from true reconciliation.

Scripture tells us that if we have any argument with our brother, we are to leave our offering at the altar, find them and reconcile with them FIRST.  (Matthew 5:24)   How many times have you walked into church, put your tithing check in the offering basket and worshiped God… when your heart was still hard toward your brother or sister in Christ?

Scripture is not merely suggesting this is a good idea or wise decision.  No, in fact, God is telling us to do it before we can commune with him.  In other words, this issue has become sin & it stands between us and God.

Examine your relationships… is there hurt, unforgiveness, or unfinished business?  It’s time to do what God has commanded of us, to be a united body.  It begins with forgiveness.

Pray about it, first.  Ask God to reveal the areas in which you have sinned against your brother or sister.  Ask for God to strip away the anger and pride.  Ask Him to give you the strength you need to approach that person, and that they will have a softened heart & willingness to hear you.  Pray for reconciliation.

Then take the first step.  A simple email or text of “I’m sorry” can be just the kindling needed to get that fire started.  You may find that simple statement alone is sufficient, or that they have already forgiven you… and have been waiting for you to forgive yourself & be ready to heal the relationship.

Colossians 3:13   

Bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

 

I AM NOT THE BOSS

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Since I was a small child, I have been a bit of a boss. Some would say it is my Irish heritage, others would say that I am like my grandmother. The fact of the matter is, I can be bossy. Really bossy. A fact I have spent years trying to correct. Couple my inherent bossiness with my need for justice, and I am a force to be reckoned with. A great example of this, will take us on a journey to about 10 years ago.

I was working in direct sales & I was doing really well in the company, leader over my entire state. I also and had a very good relationship with the owner of the company.    We were getting ready for a large training event, and I sincerely disagreed with a decision the owner had made. I confronted the owner about it. I continued the disagreement with her over the issue to the point we had to have mediation through a neutral third party.

It was during a women’s conference, about a year later, that in a single moment truth hit me. Who was I? Who was I to think I could tell this woman how to run her company? Right or wrong, this was not MY company. I had no right to expect her to bend to my demands.  I came home and immediately drafted a letter of apology to her. It had nothing to do with my feelings about the decision, but everything to do with me taking accountability for my actions. She graciously accepted my apology & our relationship began to heal over time.

Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.

In my situation, I certainly felt I was right. Sometimes though it is not about being right, it is about being wise.   I made poor decisions on confronting the owner, poor decisions on how to react to her stance & in the end poor decisions on my part on how to proceed further.   The deeper I allowed myself to get into the argument, I became angry & I gave full vent to that anger. I made it personal, I elevated the situation and ultimately I brought us to the point of mediation. If I were wiser at that time, I would have tempered myself and my tongue.

Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Once I was able to realize my error, I was able to make amends. But, what was a strong relationship was going to take time to heal. It was a hard lesson to learn, but once you learn such a lesson you strive to not repeat the same mistake again.

God wants us to approach situations with wisdom and not foolishness.

Two women were before King Solomon, each claiming a child as their own. Solomon ordered the child to be cut in half, then each woman would be given half of the child. The true mother could have continued to argue that the child was hers. She would have been right, but her decision would have cost the life of her son. Instead, she opted to make a wise decision. She told Solomon to spare his life and give him to the other woman. It was through this wise decision on her part, that Solomon knew who the real mother was. The woman who put aside being right, and instead spared the life of the child. (A Wise Ruling 1 Kings 3:16-28)

Can you think of a time where your quest to be right, cost you more than you would have gained?

How can you rectify this past occurrence, or prevent it from happening again?

Heavenly Father, I ask you today to guide my words. Guide me to fight the good fight and to turn the other cheek. Help me to discern between being wise and being right. Let me find peace in times of strife & help me to find the path to restoration in relationships my decisions may have damaged. Through you I can forgive and be forgiven. Amen.

*Written for the TC3 Women’s Ministry Devotion Blog