June 5, 2010

Sweet Surrender: Realization #1

Life is complicated. It takes you places you never expected to go, both literally and figuratively. I think the greatest surprise of growing up is the different place you can find yourself in. When you look down and think, “Is this really me?”

This summer Jacob and I had talked a lot about me getting away to focus on the Lord. We both realized I needed this.

Returning from Africa was hard for me. I can’t explain it. I know some people have entirely different experiences. For me it was raw and cutting. My heart shut down. My spirit was confused within me. I was directionless. We attributed it to the isolation of Kaabong, the harsh conditions and my long time away from the states.

When this first weekend opened up I jumped at the opportunity to be on the road alone for hours and to spend time away from responsibilities and work.

My sister-in-love was house sitting at a beautiful home and I was allowed to join her there. Quickly it became more than a girl’s weekend, but rather a woman’s retreat, free from our daily grind. It was an oasis on a long journey that materialized when we least expected.

Truths were unveiled that we were both amazed to find. Simple truths that somehow got lost in the chaos of every day living.

We realized how our lives had been pointing us to this same need and realization.

We shared general struggles and the loss of our “youth” and optimism. Who hasn’t been there? We shared our cynicism and disbelief- our hopelessness and disillussionment. This ultimately led to some valuable realizations I want to share with you.

Here is one of them.

We are called to victorious lives. Not to be victims. I think this is a special struggle within women especially. To say, “No, no have it your way” while internally we’re thinking, “I’ll be the martyr again... I’ll be selfless again... No please.. have it YOUR way... again.

I think Africa made this a temptation too. The constant grind, the constant struggle and feeling like we had been taken advantage of or lied to again. But choosing to be a victim/martyr on a daily basis for ignoble causes is actually masked self glorification and villifies our brothers and sisters in Christ who are oblivious to our “sacrifice”. It does not glorify Christ or please him. Rather it is a breeding ground for resentment and broken communication. It is selfish. Plain and simple. It makes us feel good and makes us think we are being more noble than our unsuspecting brothers and sisters. It doesn’t build up but ultimately tears down.

Here’s my story associated with this truth.

We have paneling in our living room. I hate paneling. It’s a deep rooted passion I have. As a child my room was a dark paneled "cave", ceiling and all, with dark carpet and low lighting. I dreamt of a light home.

Oh to have a bedroom that was light and airy!!

So when we moved into our home and it was swathed in 1970’s paneling, I immediately said I would love to paint it. Jacob nonchalantly responded that you should just tear panelling down rather than ruin it by painting it.

And thus began my self sacrifice.

To this day that paneling has never been painted.

When Jacob would try to discuss it I would say, “No, no... We’ll never paint that paneling.” And in my heart the tiny voice of self sacrifice patted my back and comforted me with how wonderful I was. It said, 'I’ll just suffer over here in silence with my childhood dream dashed to the ground. I hope you're happy now. But don’t mind little old martyr me... I hope you are enjoying your paneling...'

And thus begins the breeding of resentment. It’s a small silly issue- but becomes symptomatic of greater issues and habits.

Where and when will we move our family into service? Heaven forbid I would voice my feelings, I mean, just think of the Paneling Fiasco! Which, in my husband’s memory, lasted thirty seconds two years ago and was a complete non issue in which I made one small comment about painting paneling and then never mentioned it again.  

Bless him, he was clueless that he was involved in a full on ground attack. I was fighting a silent battle with myself- and only I was suffering.

So this simple realization that this self victimization is actually sinful self glorification came as a blow to me. I was shocked to have the Lord reveal my own ugly motives.Jaw droppingly shocked. Who knew? Not little ol' "self-sacrificing" me!

I pray that God helps me to take every thought captive and to be honest with myself and to see clearly and that in some way, He shows you a revealing truth today as well.

Don't deny Christ's glory and victory for a little self glorification like I have.  Don't "suffer in silence" to be "noble" while thinking how selfish old so-and-so is. It's a lie and though we don't deserve better, God has better planned for us because he is gracious and good that way.  Let go of your old ways, reach out and take in hand the wonderful freedom that awaits you in the victorious life of really following Christ. Clasp onto truth and refuse to let go. It will set you free. Speak truth in love. Paint your paneling and let go.


A person with a changed heart seeks to please God, not people. Romans 2:29


Redneck Organic said...


This post spoke to me so much. It truly said out loud something that all women feel and do, either as mothers, employees, wives, daughters, or children of Christ. Thank you for having the gusto to say it "out loud." Bless you and your sweet family, don't be so hard on yourself and, by golly, invite me over to help paint your paneling. You should definitely make it a party.


The Reeds said...

Thanks so much for that. It's amazing how much we have to learn about ourselves isn't it? And amazing that paneling could ever become so symbolic!
We have special struggles sometimes as women that we don't acknowledge (though we can all easily acknowledge the struggles of men!). I guess that's where we need each other!
Peace and thanks again,

Abby said...

I love your transparency and your heart. I love you.
And I love painted paneling! Good luck!

Mike and Emily said...

I love these latest posts. I feel God is reminding me who "Emily" is lately - like bringing the refreshment you talk about. Even though we don't see eachother or "talk" except through the blog world, I feel like we are walking this road together. And I feel like He's doing alot in my heart that you talk about. So, it's refreshing to me. Thanks for that.

The Reeds said...

Emily, I feel the same way. In many ways it is the same race for all of us. I know we all will have different times and struggle with different parts.. but in the end we're all on the same path. It's no wonder fellowship is so precious since it is the narrow path and it can feel lonely at times.

Thanks for sharing YOUR heart so much also. It's a beautiful thing. :)

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