Monday, January 23, 2012

Slippers on - Slippers off...

It is getting cold and cloudy out today. We don't see that too often around here. So, many of us run for our crock-pots, our coffee cups, our slippers and snuggle in for a cozy afternoon. The slurping of soup can be heard up and down the neighborhood streets. We pull out that much loved sweater that only sees the outside of our closet once or twice a year and run outside to show it off. Silly, I know....but true.
We love the change and embrace it before the 110 degree weather begins in a few months.

There are other things that we tend to put on, but they end up hindering us instead of bringing us joy and contentment. We put these on as ways to handle the hard things that we go through in life, on our own. We make a decision to go through loss our way without inviting the Savior to help us and walk with us. The examples below are what happens when we choose to stay stuck in our hard place, our loss or grief. When we have forgotten how to move forward and maybe over time this has become a pattern as to how we respond to stress, loss or suffering. We all have tendencies and perhaps you may find one or two of your own in this list. I have related to all of these at different times in my life, and I definitely have my "favorites" that even now I struggle against.

Here are six accessories that we can do without:
1. Crown: Some of us like to put on a crown that "helps" to show everyone just how special our circumstances are and that they should take notice and act accordingly. We wear our grief/loss with pride. We don't want anyone to ever forget what has happened to us, so we readily remind them. We find that response in the beginning is one of love towards us, but the longer we wear our grief as a way to get attention and to receive special treatment, we find ourselves with less and less subjects to behold the splendor. Others begin to see us as a tyrant, when what may really be happening in our heart is unforgiveness, bitterness and possibly fear of loss of control.
But God says...it is being a child of His that makes us special, not what has happened to us. God is distant from the proud and gives grace to the humble.
Psalm 138:6; Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5 

2.Badge of Honor: Some of us like to wear our loss/grief like a badge, showing recognition of what we have been through. We are now part of a "club" of those that grieve over the same things that we grieve about. We have things in common. This badge allows us to relive our grief over and over and over again with those like us. It becomes the thing that identifies who we are. We are most comfortable around those that have lived through the same pain. Those outside of the "club" begin to see us as unapproachable, when what may really be happening in our heart is fear of the unknown, loneliness, and belief in the lie that our loss is our identity.
But God says...as believers we are heirs of God. He is our identity, not what has happened.
Romans 8:14-17; Colossians 3:1-4

3. Flashlight: Some of us use what has happened to us as a weapon. We use it to focus on others faults, instead of looking at our own struggles. We find ourselves lashing out at others; we have bouts of rage and anger when things are out of our control. We seek revenge when we feel wronged. The longer we use this in our loss/grief the more bitter and angry we become. When we carry our loss like a light that we flash on those around us, others begin to see us as judgemental and critical, when what may really be happening in our heart is unforgiveness, resentment, and fear of loosing control.
But God says...as God's children we are to be slow to anger, gentle and forgiving.
Proverbs 14:29, 15:1, 29:22; Ephesians 4:31-32; Hebrews 12:15

4. Shovel: Some of us like to bury what has happened to us, never to be spoken of again. If we don't speak of it, then it doesn't affect us or our present circumstances, right? It is in the past, we convince our self that no one wants to hear about our stuff. It's not as bad as so-and-so's situation. We become numb, emotionless, we don't cry, we don't feel anything. Unfortunately, things that are buried eventually make their way back up to the surface. And, once they surface, they can poison everything that they touch. We find our self getting emotional about things that may be common place for others or at inopportune times. Others begin to see us as unfeeling and unapproachable, or possibly we overcompensate by trying to be the "life of the party". When what really might be happening in our heart is fear of being hurt, unwillingness to let go of that has happened, and unforgivness.
But God says...His desire is for us to look up, to cry out, and allow Him to share in all our troubles.
Psalm 63 and 77

5. Backpack: Some of us carry our loss/grief with us wherever we go. As we go about our day, working, caring for others ,just living...we feel the weight of it. Sometimes we acknowledge the weight that we bear to others, but most of the time we just bear it. We try to run from it by distracting ourselves with other things, but it is heavy, and the feeling never leaves. We find that because of its weight we begin to have physical symptoms. We can't sleep, our muscles ache, we gain weight, we lose weight, our head hurts, we sleep all the time. People try to tell us how to bear under it through medication or exercise, but in the end the grief is still there. Others begin to see us as tired, overloaded and unable to keep up. When what really might be happening in our heart is sadness, unforgiveness, and living with regret.
But God says... He offers rest for the heavy-laden, and a better way to bear burdens.
Jeremiah 31:25; Matthew 11:28-30

6. Fuzzy slippers: Some of us have found a respectable way to attach our loss/grief to our everyday life. We are hibernators! We withdraw when things get heated or hard. We check out. All we want is for everyone to leave us alone for a while, no questions, just a cup of coffee, a good book to dive into, no phones, no talk. This all makes us feel safe and secure. "We are fine", we tell ourselves and others. We just don't need too may friends. We are not small talk kinda gals. But deep down, it can be lonely. We find it hard to speak about our hurt, it is hard to put into words. We often feel stuck and so there we stay. It often causes us to lose out on opportunities because we have lost our courage to live out loud. Others begin to see us as over independent and standoffish. When what really might be happening in our heart is fear of what others would think, loss of trust and fear of losing control.
But God says...He comforts us in such a way that it gives hope to His children, causing us to step out and comfort others.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7, 2 Corinthians 7:6   

So, as I take off my fuzzy slippers to step out into the world,
I encourage you to remove that accessory that you have grown fond of wearing
and put on what Christ has to give you in its place.
Peace that passes all understanding, love, joy, comfort...the list goes on and on. His accessories make us beautiful inside and out.

Which accessory are you prone to wear?

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