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In The Wright Direction – Page 2

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"I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14

Let’s be bold enough to be who God created us to be.  There’s only one of you and one of a kinds are much more valuable!

The UGLY truth behind why I didn’t WANT to forgive them

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as
the Lord forgave you.”
  Colossians 3:13

Yep, you read the title correctly… I didn’t want to forgive the person who hurt me.  I thought I did.  In fact, I begged God to help me forgive them and let it go.  I didn’t like the way the bitterness of unforgiveness tasted in my life and I didn’t like the distance that it caused between God and I.  I asked God,

“Why am I having such a hard time healing from this?”

After all, if you read my last post, “Forgiveness isn’t always a one time decision,” you know I thought it should be a piece of cake.  Well let me warn you right now, don’t ever ask God for an answer if you don’t want to hear what He has to say because He will answer you.  My answer came while I was reading my Bible (amazing what you learn when you actually make time for God, huh?).   I thought I was safe because I wasn’t even reading about forgiveness.  I was reading in John chapter 5 about the paralytic by the healing waters of Bethesda.  When Jesus asked the man “do you want to be made well,” it was if He was speaking directly to me.  I thought, “Of course I do, that’s what I’ve been praying for.”

But when I sat still and listened to what God was telling me, I realized I really didn’t want to be healed.  I was like the proverbial monkey that sticks his hand in a small hole to retrieve a piece of fruit and remains trapped because he’s unwilling to release his grip.  I wanted the benefits that come with forgiving someone; a restored relationship with Christ and to be free of that icky feeling that hangs around, but I didn’t want to let go so I remained stuck.  So, then came my next question,

Why won’t I let it go and forgive?

Guess what?  That answer came while I was reading my Bible again a few days later.  This time it was Luke 17:3-5, “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.  Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.  The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’  I have never noticed the connection between these two verses but God made sure I did that day.  When told they should forgive someone over and over, the apostles said, “Lord, increase our faith.”  We need faith to forgive!

Why wasn’t I trusting God with this situation?

The answer was an ugly one.  I was afraid God would let them get away with how they’d treated me.  They had hurt me and I wanted justice.  I’m not sure what I expect God to do…turn them into a pillar of salt? Smote them?  Cause them to stump their toe in the middle of the night and tell them, “booyah, that was for Kathy?”  I don’t even know what it means to be smoted but it doesn’t sound good at all!  I sure don’t want to be smoted when I mess up but I was perfectly fine with it happening to them.  Told you the truth was ugly.
That ugly truth made me ugly on the inside for a while.  Like I said in my last post, healing took time.  It took allowing God to change me.  I had to focus on the log in my own eye rather than glaring at the other person.  I don’t care much about seeking justice any more.  I’ve realized I’m not a very good judge and I’ve got too much of my own stuff to work on to worry about what God is doing with someone else.  Plus, I finally realized it’s none of my business.  God is good to me.  I’ve been forgiven far more than I could ever deserve. I need every ounce of grace God freely extends my way and so do they.

P.S. – I looked up the word “smote,” and it means to strike or hit hard with the hand, a stick, or other weapon.  And the past tense is “smit,” but I don’t like that as much and since it’s my blog, I’m leaving it as “smoted.”

Forgiveness isn’t always a one time decision…it’s often a process

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

I’ve never thought of myself as being an unforgiving person.  In fact, I’ve forgiven something so horrible I thought any future wrongs would be a piece of cake to forgive.  You know, like once you’ve climbed Everest, walking up the hill at the entrance to your neighborhood shouldn’t be a big deal.

So, why was this particular hill such a big deal?

  1. I was still on the hill.  I’ve learned it’s one thing to forgive a
    past hurt and a whole other story to forgive in the middle of the hurt.
  2. They weren’t sorry.  Not one little bit.  But that’s fine, we forgive because that’s what our Daddy tells us to do. And our Daddy tells us to forgive because that’s what’s best for us.  You’ve heard it, you know it…unforgiveness eats you up but does nothing to the other person.
  3. I may have taken a few (dozen) pity-party stops along the way which made the journey take longer than
    necessary.  I’m learning this is a complete waste of time and the sooner I can put on my big girl undies and
    take God by the hand, the sooner we can get to the good stuff.
  4. I needed time…and that’s okay!  Time truly does heal and with that healing comes perspective.

Growing up, I both loathed and loved my summer camp’s annual climb to the top of a nearby mountain.  The climb was difficult at times and made up of unsure steps and usually a fall or two.  Probably the worst part was not being able to see an end in sight until you emerged at the top of the tree line.  But when you finally made it to the top, you could look back, see how far you’d come and know it was worth it!

Thankfully, this situation ended much the same way.  I was able to forgive and more than that, I grew in the process.  I know it’s hard to believe, but I actually had things I needed to work on and this helped me see that.  Forgiveness isn’t always a one time decision, especially in an ongoing situation.  Sometimes, it’s a process you simply have to take step by step with God until you can look back and know it was worth it.  I would never have chosen to be hurt and never have willingly put myself in an uncomfortable situation but when I look back on how much I’ve grown, I’m almost thankful the person hurt me.  Seriously!

Unfortunately, we are all going to have hills we have to climb, all have hurts to forgive.   But when we do it with God, it’s doable.  It’s true…”God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

Christian Resolution Solution

Christian Resolution Solution“See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

There’s just something special about anything new…that new car smell, the softness of a newborn’s skin, the first signs of Spring.  New means clean and fresh and brings with it the excitement of possibilities.  That’s why one of my favorite things about God is that He is a god of new beginnings.  In the beginning, He created
the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1) and ever since He’s been giving those who turn to Him a new life.  Ezekiel 36:26 says, “And I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you.”  2 Corinthians 5:17 promises that if we are in Christ, we are a new creature and Lamentations 3:22-23 tells that His mercies are new each morning.  Isn’t that exciting!

With the new year approaching, I’ve been thinking about new beginnings and trying to decide if I want to commit to a resolution.  Now, you and I both know there’s nothing magical about the start of a new year any more than the start of a new day or week, but there’s nothing wrong with starting off 2015 with a Christ-centered goal.  In fact, I think it’s wise for us to look back at how we’ve grown more like Christ over the past year and pinpoint areas that could use a little improvement.  After all, we receive grades in school and evaluations at work so why shouldn’t we take the most important area of our life just as seriously?

Pray About it!

We should take the time to sit with God and ask Him what He would like for us to do or change.  Maybe
it’s to set aside a daily quiet time to read our Bible and pray?  Maybe it’s to work on a specific issue like a bad attitude or quick tongue?  To be more disciplined with our thoughts?  To forgive?  Maybe we could study and work on the fruits of the spirit one by one?

Commit to it!

Whatever it is, we need to write it down and put it where we can see it each morning. We can study to see what God’s Word says about it and consider getting a Bible study on the topic.  Let’s set goals and celebrate reaching them.  Maybe even ask someone to be our accountability partner?

See it through!

Let’s refuse to give up and instead strive for the prize (Philippians 3:13-14)!  Replacing old habits with new ones will take time but if we pray for guidance throughout the day instead of relying on our own willpower, no habit will be too hard to break.  Unlike resolutions made on our own, we have the assurance that when we seek to do God’s will for our lives, He will help us.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13

Let’s do this!  I want to look back at 2015 and know I’m more like Jesus!

Managing Your Emotions Part 3: Emotions Are Good!

The last two posts have discussed why it’s a bad idea to be led by our emotions and why it’s so hard not to be. Parts 1 and 2 are on the right side of the page if you would like to read them.

Honestly, emotions have cost me quite a lot through the years; relationships, tears, integrity, sleepless nights and most of all, peace. I’ve often wished I could just flip a switch and turn them off forever but nope, they are as constant as the color of my eyes.

Why, oh why would God give us emotions if they are capable of causing us so much trouble?  Genesis 1:27 says that we are created in His image so that means God has emotions too.

  • Anger – Psalm 7:11, Ezra 5:13, Exodus 22:24, Deuteronomy 9:22, Romans 1:18
  • Laughter – Psalm 2:4 & 37:13,  Proverbs 1:26  (I can’t wait to hear God laugh!
  • Compassion – Psalm 103:13 & 135:14, Ezekiel 33:19
  • Grief – Genesis 6:6, Psalm 78:40, Isaiah 68:10
  • Love – Jeremiah 31:3, John 3:16, 1 John 4:8
  • Jealousy – Exodus 20:5 & 34:14, Joshua 24:19
  • Joy – Jeremiah 32:41, Zephaniah 3:17, Isaiah 62:5

Isn’t it comforting to know that our King not only knows WHAT we are feeling but HOW we are feeling as well?  That’s what makes Him relatable which enables us to have a trusting relationship with Him.  Emotions are also what make us relatable to others we need to reach for Christ.  Our sympathy leads to forgiveness, our compassion to giving, our love to sharing Jesus, our anger to seeking change, our grief to the comforting arms of our Father.

Emotions are good, they just weren’t created to be in charge!

As much trouble as I’ve gotten myself into by not controlling my emotions, I have to admit that life would be pretty bland without them.  Think of what it must have been like when TV switched from black and white to Technicolor!  Yowzers (that’s what I imagine people would have said back then)!  Feelings make life more colorful and lively.  With anger, sadness and loneliness, you also get laughing so hard you can’t breathe, the tingle of holding your husband’s hand and tears of joy when you hear “mama” for the first time. It’s worth it!

Emotions are a gift from God.  They are good, but like other gifts from the Lord, Satan tries to twist them into something that can cause us harm.  We’ve let him get away with that for far too long.  It’s time we took back control of our emotions.  They don’t need to be the star of the show, just the Technicolor icing on top!

The next post will look at ways we can put emotions in their place.  Please, please, please message me, email me, call me, smoke signal me with your ideas…I need your input!

Managing Emotions Part 2: The UnFun Roller Coaster

Yesterday, I posted
Part 1 of Managing Your Emotions.  It was
all about how emotions can be mean little boogers…they are unstable,
ever-changing and they lie.  If you
didn’t get a chance to read it, I hope you will take the time to scan through
it.  It’s not Hemingway or anything but
it does make some valid points about the dangers of relying on our
feelings. 

So, if our emotions
are unstable and untrustworthy, why are we so easily lead by them?
  1. They
    are our constant and earliest companion. 
    Our emotions are with us every second of every day, everywhere we
    go which makes them a little difficult to ignore.
  2. They
    are LOUD little things!  Feelings can be incredibly strong and
    run deep which also makes them hard to ignore.
  3. Even
    though they often lie or make situations seem larger than life, they seem
    genuine and justified at the time. 
    The old adage to “just sleep on it” comes in handy
    here.  It’s amazing what a difference
    a day makes.
  4. They
    demand urgency, convincing you something must be done right away or you
    will fall over dead from the unaddressed injustice.  Once again, “just sleep on it”
    sounds like words of a genius who’s been there, done that.  We seldom make wise decisions or choose
    wise words when acting out of a sense of urgency.
  5. Emotions
    are a habit.  If you’re like me,
    you’ve let emotions manage you instead of you managing them for as long as
    you can remember.  They aren’t going
    to relinquish their control over night. 
    You’ve got to replace the bad habit with a new one by repeatedly
    choosing to be led by God instead.
It’s easy to see how emotions are the perfect tool for Satan
to hold us back and load us down with all sorts of trouble.  If we
are constantly led by them, we can be sure to expect:
  1. fights
    with friends and family
  2. needless
    worry (all worry is needless.  See
    Matthew 6:25-27)
  3. a
    constant roller coaster that’s not fun
  4. magnified
    insecurities
  5. drama,
    drama, drama
Yuck, none of us wants a life like that.  That’s why we’ve got to learn to trust God
instead of our emotions if we are ever going to experience the peace He intends
for us.  God is everything our emotions
are not!  He’s trustworthy.  2 Samuel 7:28 says, ”  Lord God, You are God; Your words are true,
and You have promised grace to Your servant.”  He is also stable and constant regardless of
our changing circumstances.  Hebrews 13:8
promises, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and
forever.”  There’s no better
foundation to build a life upon than God. 

All of this focus on the negative side of emotions is
draining but needed.  Tomorrow, we’ll
turn things around and talk about the good that comes from our feelings.  Yes, those lying little boogers are good for
something!

Managing Emotions Part 1: Emotions Are Mean Little Boogers!

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”  2 Corinthians 10:5

A while back, I was given the opportunity to guest teach a
youth girl’s class at my church on the topic of managing emotions.  I was thrilled to be assigned this lesson
because it’s an area of my life I’ve really been working on over the last
couple of years. 
Now, with that being said, there are still moments you could
speak to me and think, “She’s come a long way in learning to control her
emotions???  Yikes, what was she like
before?”  That’s why I mercifully
claim the scriptures above, Philippians 3:13-14, as my life verses; I think
they perfectly summarize our Christian journey. 
I haven’t obtained perfection in managing my emotions but I am pressing
forward and seeing progress with each passing day.  Hey, it’s not easy breaking a habit that’s
dug in over 30+ years (don’t ask how many pluses!). 
But, I’m determined to
exit the emotional roller coaster once and for all and resist all future rides.
I shared with those sweet and crazy girls an example of how
terrible it would be to have an unstable boss at work.  Someone who’s up one minute, down the
next.  Someone who lies constantly, stirs
up trouble where there is none and is just simply unpredictable.  None of us would want to be managed by
someone like that and yet many of us are…our emotions.
Emotions are based on
feelings and feelings aren’t stable!  Feelings
are unstable because they can be easily swayed by so many things:
  • our
    circumstances
  • who we
    are around and their attitudes
  • how
    much rest we’ve been getting or not getting
  • our
    insecurities
  • hormones
  • other’s
    opinions of us
  • how we
    feel physically
  • how
    much time we’ve spent with God                    
                                                                                                the
list is endless!
Not only are emotions
unstable, but they also lie:
  • emotions
    can convince you a friend is angry with you when really, they are just
    having a bad day and it has nothing to do with you
  • they
    say you aren’t good enough, aren’t liked or accepted when nothing could be
    further from the truth
  • they
    convince you someone was talking bad about you when you entered the room
    when they were actually saying how much they love your outfit
  • they
    whisper that things will never get any better and that you can’t change
    when God’s word clearly offers hope to the contrary
You get the picture. 
Emotions can be mean little boogers!
So, if emotions are unstable and lie, why are we so easily
lead by them?

We’ll tackle that question tomorrow but until then,
I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and struggles with emotions. I could use
all the insight you are willing to pass along.  

Mind Your Own Business!

“and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life:  You should mind your own business and work with your hands…”  1 Thessalonians 4:11
I recently helped my grandmother sort through my great-grandmother’s jewelry.  My great-grandmother, Maw, had a love for all that sparkled along with a knack for making
necklaces that would rival anything Charming Charlie has to offer. 
As we combed through the pieces, I dreamed of all the ways I
could incorporate these treasures into my wardrobe.  But that dream quickly became a jumbled up,
tangled up nightmare!  At least a
gazillion (okay, maybe it was more like 7 but it might as well have been a
gazillion) of the strands were connected in a maze of mess.
Now, I am not exactly known for my patience.  In fact, if my precious grandmother hadn’t
been sitting by my side, I probably would have ripped them apart Hulk style and
been done with it.  Thankfully, we were
able to get them all separated and of course, it was well worth every second of
the untangling process.  On a side note,
if you ever need me to be patient, the promise of homemade coconut cake seems
to help. 
Where is this lovely story leading you might ask?  Well, yesterday as I sat down on the back
porch to read my Bible and pray, I couldn’t focus.  My mind felt just like those jumbled up,
tangled up necklaces; thoughts running in every direction but leading nowhere
and beads of emotion making it impossible to unwind.
As I asked God to untangle the mess, it dawned on me that
much of what was occupying my thoughts was none of my concern.  And wouldn’t you know it, the Bible has a
verse for that!  1 Thessalonians 4:11
says to “make it your ambition to
lead a quiet life:  You should mind your
own business and work with your hands…”
  That’s pretty straight forward, huh?
Unfortunately, it can be pretty hard to mind your own
business sometimes.  It seems like we are
constantly being bombarded with other people’s business with every call, text
or scroll through social media.  It’s
easy to get distracted and caught up before you even realize it.  I love that the verse says to work with your
hands (note that it says hands, not scrolling thumb!) because it is hard to wander
into someone else’s business when you are actively working on your own.
Once I removed all the thoughts that were none of my
business, my mind felt less jumbly and my burden seemed lighter.  Of course being both Type A, as y’all well know, and forgetful to boot, I thought it would be best to see my responsibilities
(my business) in writing. 
Look how small the list is! 
Now that’s doable!  

The Cost of Perfection

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

I know I’m not perfect but I sure want to be.  I think even my list of what I want to
improve upon…is well…perfect.  I’m
not seeking the perfect body, home, hubby or kids.  I’m not hoping to obtain the perfect balance
in my bank account or the perfect wardrobe. 
I want good, Christiany perfection. I want to be a perfect mom and
wife.  I want to be a more obedient and
trusting child of God; a Proverbs 31 kind of woman.  I want to write perfect blog posts!
I want all of this perfection for the right reasons and for
the right people.  I want it so those
around me will see how awesome God is and want to know Him better.  All good things, but honestly, it’s not
working out too well for me.  I simply
can’t pull off perfection and striving for it is exhausting (seriously,
EXHAUSTING)! 
Repeatedly falling short of my unrealistic expectations is
disappointing (and EXHAUSTING).  We
simply weren’t meant to be perfect so it’s like a right handed person trying to
do everything left handed.  It’s
EXHAUSTING people!
But the absolute worst part about seeking perfection is that
it often causes us to do the opposite of what we were hoping to achieve in the
first place.  Take my blog for
example…I’m so hung up on wanting each post to measure up to some imagined
level that I often find it hard to post what I write in fear that it will fall
short.  My goal is to share what God is
doing in my life but I often end up not sharing at all. 
What good is a boat that never leaves the dock?  What good is a voice that’s never heard? 
At some point, we have to realize that a messy message is
often better than no message at all.  God
can use messy and imperfect.  On the
other hand, He can’t use what we never do! 
And why on earth do we set such high standards for ourselves when the
One who called us, the only one capable of perfection wants to use us just the
way we are? 
2 Corinthians 12:9 says that His power is made perfect in
our weaknesses. God knew I couldn’t spell, loved run-on sentences and misused
commas when He called me to start In the Wright Direction and guess what?  Not one of you have commented on my lack of
grammar skills (don’t take that as an invitation to start).
I know you’ve probably seen lists like this before but I
hope you’ll take a look anyway:
Jeremiah was too young
Abraham was too old
Moses stuttered
Gideon was afraid
Rahab was a prostitute
David was an adulterer and murderer
Jonah ran from God
Peter denied Christ
Martha was a worry wart
Lazarus was dead
and yet God used every single one of them and their
testimonies are still changing lives today. 
What’s your excuse?  God gave us
these examples to demolish our excuses and give us hope.  He wants to use you just the way you are.
I hope you’ll pray for me as I battle my excuses for not
writing more often and if you let me know, I’ll pray for you too.

P.S. – Brandall, my editor,  wants it noted that I already have the
“perfect husband,” and he corrected 4 grammatical errors in this
post.  

You Grow Girl!

“Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the
word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” 
  1 Peter 2:2
My kids love to hear how much they’ve grown and being raised
in the South they’ve each heard their share of, “Wow, you are growing like
a weed!”  At this phase in life,
it’s easy to see how rapidly they are changing. 
It’s evident in the shoes and clothes that have to be replaced every few
months, the loss of teeth, a changing voice and an ever growing grocery
bill. 
My daughter measures her growth by where the bathroom
counter comes to her waste as I style her hair before school and my son by how
easily he can pick me up off the ground. 
Okay, I have to just keep typing here because if I stop, I will cry
(possibly for days).  Seriously, I no
longer pick up my son and carry him on my hip; he picks me up instead!
Anyway, my kid’s excitement at seeing their progress has me
wondering why I no longer get excited by my own growth. 
Last night, I had the opportunity to teach a girl’s Bible
study class at my church.  When I
discovered the subject was managing your emotions, I just knew this was an
assignment straight from God.  It’s a
topic near and dear to my heart because I’ve actually been working on managing
my emotions for the last couple of years. 
As I sat down to pray and make notes for the class, I was amazed at how
much I had to pass along…because I have grown! I was elated to see
that I was a few inches taller in this area than I once was. 
Whether it’s in my work outs, breaking bad habits, being a
good mom, etc., I tend to focus on all I’m lacking.  All I can see is how far I still have to
go.  I never stop to notice just how far
I’ve already come!
Leading the Bible study gave me the chance to do just
that.  It was like standing with my back
to a door frame ticking off a pencil mark and stepping away to see a big gap
between the me of two years ago and the me of today.  It was exciting!
It can be so easy to
get tied up in striving for perfection that we overlook all that
God has already accomplished in us.  But it’s
comforting to know that God doesn’t overlook our changes any more than you
could go without noticing your own child’s growth.  He sees, He acknowledges and He celebrates
your growth each and every day!

Today, I hope you will slow down enough to see, acknowledge
and celebrate just how far you’ve come. 
It might give you just the encouragement and excitement you need to keep
going!  You’re doing it…inch by inch, and
heading in the (W)right direction!
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