Those are the times I go back and read Job--we're great friends! People say, "You need to have the patience of Job," but they don't get to the part where Job had reached his last straw, and just asked God why all this misery was happening to him after he had been so faithful. I understand exactly what Job meant, sometimes I need the same answers because it just doesn't seem right from my perspective. And that's where God answers me like he did Job, puts me in my place and affirms he is the great "I am!" who makes everything in the universe possible, something I can't even begin to think about doing. He let me know that my gifts and talents are his--he gave me a glimpse of him! I didn't create or develop them myself. They are nothing I have done on my own accord. It is all God, and he helped me understand that without doubt.
Then God really got on a roll and called me out about how I had put other things and people before him; how I had kicked him to the curb. He reminded me that I was the one who stopped praying everyday; how I would try to solve things on my own without consulting with him; how I would allow what others said to or about me push me off my purpose instead of trusting in him. He showed me examples of how I tried to step in and fix situations he already had resolutions to. He helped me understand in no uncertain terms that a lot of what I was experiencing was because I wouldn't let God be God. God was asking me the same things--how could I turn on him after he had literally saved my life so many times before? God was like, "I don't need you to do anything for me, I have a whole world of people to use for my purposes." I mean we were going at it! So he just let me roam around in the dark until I came back to my senses. It took some months, but praise God, I came back around!
Although this bout with God was a little longer than the others, what I got out of it is significantly more important and profound than before. One of my take-a-ways is a deeper capacity to be vulnerable, humble and confident--all at the same time. I discovered that God has given me a peculiar comfort in opening up and being vulnerable, and I have discovered great joy in being humble. I am at peace with being confident in myself. God enhanced my ability to know when, and under what circumstances to relinquish my vulnerability, with the clear understanding that although humble, I am no one's doormat. I am better able to recognize the balance of humility, vulnerability and confidence. I won't apologize or belittle my gifts and talents--they are God's gifts and talents, he just allows me access to them. I am confident in God's protection. I am comfortable feeling God's protection all around me, which frees me up to be or do or speak what God intends. I am no longer afraid of succeeding--the success belongs to God.
Another take-a-way was accepting my uniqueness. I am no better or worse than anyone else, just not the same. I am also a solitary being. I enjoy being with me, most times, I prefer it. I realized that I am different from other people, and that is just fine. I don't mix with a lot of people, and that is just fine. Some people don't like me or want to be around me, that is all just fine. I have become completely comfortable with me--faults and all--and I am just fine. I came to this comfort because I fully understand that God made me, and will always love me just as I am. That is not to say that I will stop working to be a better me; that is a life-long commitment. It does mean that at this point in my life, if God loves me, faults and all, then everyone else will have to take me as I am--or not. If they can't or won't, that's fine, I'll just keep it moving.
I also accepted that God gave me specific things to do. The work God has for me to do looks nothing like what he gave someone else, and neither do my gifts, talents and experiences. I believe God made us all unique, to work together. I had to accept that I don't know or understand it all, and don't need to until, or if, God sees fit. All I need to do is be prepared, listen and follow God's voice, and to use all of what I have to his glory. I've also learned not to be distracted by what people do or say--good or bad. All I need to do is listen to and obey God.
I also realized that although I am a unique and solitary soul, God also showed me that I do need other people--and he showed me who they are. He has placed people in my life who are perfectly safe to be me with. It's not throngs of people, but a wonderful variety of sane, safe, healthy, loving, non-judgmental, trustworthy people who also keep me accountable--and most times out of trouble. Just like my gifts and talents, they are God's people who he has granted me access to, and I thank him for them! They provide refuge for me, and I hope I am the same for them. I can reach out to them, rest and be refreshed which enables me to continue on this journey. Thank you God!
Now, this was a tough one for me to swallow because God and I went "tit-for-tat" on it. It is my inclination to speak truth. I've never known a situation where not telling the truth, or dancing around it, or ignoring it has yielded positive outcomes. I'm of a mind that if you start with the truth, seek the truth, and speak truth, things tend to turn out just fine. I tend to be blunt and to the point, and that doesn't go over well with people. The problem is humans tend not to want to hear or see the truth, often because it's frightening, challenging, demands sacrifice and change. But then, God told me that I have not been so successful delivering the truth. I have not always been loving and merciful with the truth. Some times, I have been outright mean with it. None of that is what God intends. So, my issue with God was, why would you make me like this? His answer was, "I didn't, you just do and say what you want to." Guilty.
I had convinced myself that when I knew the truth, I should speak it, and most times, I didn't care how it came out. So, I wasn't always careful with the truth or how I delivered it. I was quick to use the truth and words as weapons. In my defense, they were only weapons when I felt attacked or mistreated, but weapons nonetheless. God helped me understand that was not his desire, when he gave me a voice. One of my talents is the ability to captivate people with my voice, (sometimes with my thoughts and insights, but it's "hit or miss.") But relaying my own experiences or advocating for a cause, I can be quite engaging and persuasive. I am quite passionate and articulate when making a point, especially when clarifying something. God equipped me with a voice and an insightful mind, but like a few other things, I have not always been a good steward of either. I am just guilty of that. God helped me understand that my voice and thoughts are his also, and that I am to use them for his purposes, not my own. That means that even when I am to speak truth, it is to be in love and delivered with grace and mercy. I've learned that God expects me to be as good a steward with my words as he does my money and time. I have to pay attention to when I use them, if I need to use them, and the tone in which I use words. I have to allow the Holy Spirit to guide me through all of this so that the message God has to deliver through me is heard. I can't allow my own filters to interfere. I have to let go of me so that God is front and center.
This is an act of submission I was afraid of. In fact, it is just plain frightening to relinquish control. I had submitted quite a bit, but God requires complete submission. A lot of me was submerged in God's will, but I still had some parts sticking out just case God didn't have it all covered--my tongue being one of them. Silly me, I was too busy trying to help a God who doesn't need my help! And yet, everything was out of my control because I was saying things that I had not intended to say. This led to me being exposed and vulnerable, and in places I did not intend to be. I realized how very careful I need to be with the truth, my tongue and tone. Ultimately, I understood without any doubt that it's not about me, it's about the will of God. So the words that come out of my mouth, especially when seeking justice, must always reflect God's love, grace, mercy and truth.
So, having fought this most recent fight with God, I simply accepted that it wasn't God who was the problem here, it was me. I had found a comfortable place on my journey and was content to stay there. It wasn't until God began tapping on my shoulder to remind me that he had work for me to do that I began having problems with God. I felt like I had seen enough, endured enough, given enough, suffered enough, so that I could just coast through the rest of life. I was tired. Plus, I had stuff I wanted to do!
But God, in his infinite wisdom and his profound love for me, poured out grace and mercy to help me understand that the work he has for me is far more important and rewarding than anything I had planned. The funny thing is, I am actually getting to do some of the things I want to do anyway. I'm learning that it's all God's plan, just not in my time. I just have to go God's way and be patient. I also learned that I cannot disconnect myself from God--ever. I can't storm off from him when I am mad or confused or scared. God is all I have, so being in constant contact with him is a must. I can't slack on my prayers and quiet time with God. I can't stop sharing and being of service to God's people. I can't stop speaking truth and seeking justice. I can't stop loving and forgiving. I cannot be separated from God under any circumstances.
This is not to be confused with people or situations. I know I cannot, nor will I ever turn away from God, but I can, and will remove myself from environments and people that drain my soul. God let me know that I am not obligated to subject myself to misery to satisfy someone else's ego, power trip or mistreatment wherever it may be found. God helped me understand that removing myself from such is not cowardly, but a better choice than doing or saying something that would not be pleasing to him, and I'm good with that. Some may differ. I say, that's between me and God, and that is all that really matters.
I started this project so that I could share examples of God's supernatural movement in my life so that others could find the same love, hope, joy, encouragement, comfort, purpose and affirmation in God that I have. This is not at all about me, it's all about God, who he is and what he can do. My story is just one way it's coming through. This journey isn't easy, but I am so thankful to God that I am on it, and he is with me.
Fighting with God just wears me out, so I've decided to just rest in his arms.
I apologize I have been absent from this work, but it's another day's journey, and I am so glad to be back here!