Since a recent assignment in The Artist’s Way, I’ve been pondering the truth behind the mantra, “Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong.” Being a student of Jesus Christ, my first reaction was that this mantra was not Biblical. The Scripture “let him deny himself” immediately came to mind. But experientially I have found this mantra to be true.
The underlying struggle that I had with the mantra was treating myself like a precious object. I understand that God finds me precious after all He sacrificed so that I could have relationship with HIm. I would be wrong in treating myself any other way. But I am a person of extremes. I hear the media preaching that “I deserve to pamper myself so I must buy their products. I deserve it after all the hard work I accomplish as a wife and mother, as a woman.” I so completely reject this that I often lean too far the other direction. I’ve rejected one lie for another of sorts. The lie I’ve been embracing says that “I am selfish if I pursue a personal interest. I shouldn’t have time left in my day after serving my family and others. And I should not feel drained or empty from all this serving because it is my job. I am denying myself.”
Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
This mantra, this struggle, allowed me to take a step back and observe my life and choices. I believe Jesus was talking to the disciples of denying what they might assume as right, or their self will, and instead following the will of the Father. Unbeknownst to them, they indeed had heavy burdens to bear with impending persecutions and martyrdoms. Perhaps I just have a difficult time relating to these struggles. I think that denying myself must be much more difficult than it really is. I certainly don’t expect to be persecuted anytime soon in this country. Perhaps I still believe that seeking God’s will should be painful, and it should be difficult to give up self. Perhaps this is also a lie.
Matthew 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
I’ve really come to like the mantra, “Treating myself as a precious object will make me strong.” The part about making me strong I had no difficulty with. I am strong in the full knowledge that I am desperately weak. I can’t deal with a busy schedule and handle stress poorly. I’ve learned to work within these parameters, but by nurturing the creative within me, I have noticed a difference in my thought patterns. I am becoming stronger. There has been much less of dealing with another day, and much more of looking forward to another day. I am becoming more relational and have found it easier for my introverted self to socialize. I have embraced more of my Savior. It is easy for me to only look at Jesus’ example while his feet walked the earth. He served nonstop, often without proper sleep and nourishment. How physically exhausting. I am learning much more about his “Creator” side. I am growing stronger in my relationship with him as I learn more about who he fully is. Now there’s a nonstop challenge.
I want to thank Amber for her post. I love what she has to say and truly appreciate the time she took to respond. I also found great truth and encouragement in both Sarah and Lora‘s comments on my Contradiction post.
2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
Today’s lunch menu for VERONICA’s Voice included:
Corned Beef, Cabbage and Potatoes
Homeade Rye Bread
Green Clover-shaped Spritz Cookies
I was also going to serve fresh apple slices, but left the apples at home. Oops.
The smell of the corned beef still lingers in our home. Delicious and comfortable.
As a continuation from my thoughts on slavery yesterday, I wanted to delve into the other side of slavery. Who is the slave owner of a woman enslaved in the life of prostitution? One easy answer would be the pimp, the one with ultimate control of the prostitute. Or how about the john, the one demanding the service? This is a supply and demand society. If there were no demand for slavery, there would be no position for the slave owner. Or how about the media that glamorizes seduction and immediate satisfaction of desires? Or are drug and alcohol addictions to blame? Or how about poor parenting?
I don’t think the answer is clear cut. While there are specific people in particular that a have made prostitution their livelihood, the society as whole is responsible for the perpetuation of this profession, or rather slavery. The depravity of mankind is responsible. We all are the slave owners.
A natural response to this thought is, ”I can’t be a part of the problem. I’ve never had anything to do with prostitution or the like.” But then I think of the words of a wise man:
Matthew 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: (28) But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Adultery is not prostitution, but like purchasing the services of a prostitute, it is the fulfilling of carnal lusts. Jesus always go directly to the heart of the matter, the condition of our hearts. I truly believe that until we humble our hearts and serve our fellow man instead of serving our own lusts and desires that we will always have the condition of slavery. Greed rules the market. Simply by abstaining from ”the evil” will not resolve the problem. We must step out of our comfort zones and help our neighbor.
Oftentimes reaching out to someone unlike ourselves can seem daunting. Knowing what to say or what to do to help someone “not like us” can feel awkward and uncomfortable. This barrier is within us, but God can free us.
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
In humility and submission to His Lordship, we can view others through His eyes and find that we are all created by Him and He desires relationship with each of us. In knowing this truth, we can connect with the “neighbor” God puts in our lives, and I promise God will provide opportunity to share His love.
This word, inconvenience, describes a reaction I naturally give to my immediate family. I am annoyed. They give me trouble, and I let them know. And I have come to despise my own reaction.
My trouble with responding to others is life-long, but for many years I was not even aware that I was responding in a negative way. My husband was first to point it out to me, to which I could not agree. He challenged me with the idea that I spoke differently to him than I did to others, and not in a nice way. Moi?
After Christ became Lord of my life, He confirmed what my husband had been telling me. I do speak differently to those closest to me. I guess I felt that they should know me well enough not to bother me with idiotic things, and, duh, isn’t the answer obvious?
My desire to change my tone of voice has been the greatest battle I have ever faced. Over the years, it has gotten so much better. God has truly softened my heart and tongue and made them both pliable for His use, but my natural reaction is so ingrained that it still rears its ugly head.
God has given me a meter to monitor my verbal attitude. This meter comes in the form of a girl and boy who happen to live under the same roof, my children. My daughter takes my verbal abuse without blinking, no response. See, my words aren’t really affecting anyone…but then I hear her speaking to her brother in the EXACT same way. She has learned which battles she can win.
My son, on the other hand, does not spread the reaction, but holds it deep within his heart. He views my words as rejection. If I speak to him in that manner, then I really, deep down inside, must not love him. He is an inconvenience.
Our Keepers of the Faith group has been studying Meekness as a character quality this year. Through this study I have realized that I am not meek, and this is the core issue of my problem.
According to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:
MEE’KNESS, n. Softness of temper; mildness; gentleness; forbearance under injuries and provocations.
1. In an evangelical sense, humility; resignation; submission to the divine will, without murmuring or peevishness; opposed to pride, arrogance and refractoriness. Gal 5.
I beseech you by the meekness of Christ. 1 Cor 10.
Meekness is a grace which Jesus alone inculcated, and which no ancient philosopher seems to have understood or recommended.
So God is taking me on a journey to learn meekness. I have found that the only times I can truly be meek is when I am not trying to be. Outwardly I can appear meek for a time, but the heart issue always reveals itself. Meekness comes from having a heart after God, from humility, from a desire to always put the other person first. Sadly, I don’t always feel this way.
Once again I am learning that my reactions should never be based on how I “feel,” but rather on truth. The truth is that I am an unworthy recipient of neverending grace, that even though my heart elevates itself, my true place is prostrate at the feet of Jesus. Only when my heart is there am I meek.
While it is extremely sad that my children have learned my horrible reaction of inconvenience (and that my husband has had to endure it for so long), they also get to journey with me as we learn meekness together. They’ve experienced and tasted of both reacting in inconvenience and meekness. I’m praying that as they reach adulthood, the one that sticks will be meekness.