I really struggled with not feeling like going to church this morning. I wanted to just stay home and shut myself down for a while. But I knew I needed to be there, and I was right. For one thing, I needed to follow through with my commitment to sing. I won't get anywhere finding my place if I'm shutting down just because I'm not doing well emotionally. For another thing, I needed to hear what was taught.
Amy asked me to do my new song again. I did--and bawled through most of it. This weekend I really do feel like I need those things I was praying for in the song. I've been really having a hard time with feeling like God must just enjoy it when I have so little because that must be His way of making me pay attention to Him. I do know better--that's just a spiritual warfare tactic to turn me against a God who loves me very much. But I really came close to losing control of my voice when I was singing, "You would not withhold the fullness of your love," in the middle of the song and I realized that I wrote those words and I meant them. Singing about needing God's Spirit to come and surround me, I just kept thinking about the hurricane and how I'm never safe apart from Him. Worship was an experience of offering my praise as a sacrifice, and on top of that I was very spacy and having very significant breathing difficulties. But I did it anyway, and I think that was the point.
David has been talking for the past weeks about the idea of three-strand cords. God uses them, and so does Satan. I never thought much about that. Wouldn't God make it easy for us to fight these battles?He never promised us that. It seems to me that some disciples got in trouble for thinking like that. They wanted to just say a few words and heal a little boy, but Jesus told them that "some only come out by prayer and fasting." So if I want protection, I have to work at building up these three-strand cords, putting on my armor, etc.
This morning David talked about humility as a three-strand cord. It's not an attitude (like I learned to think of it when I was growing up). In fact, he gave some examples of what the world thinks of as humble, and they were pretty close to what I internalized growing up. Humility isn't about minimizing my abilities or never speaking out or stepping up to the plate. It's not about being "inconspicuous" (Mom's favorite word0. In fact, most of those things are just pride in disguise--even pride about appearing humble!
He talked about humility being a three-strand cord. Humility is a combination of obedience, complete dependency on God, and seeing myself as He sees me. These are all things I struggle with, and they touch other areas of life too. This is especially true about obedience. I tend to want to start obeying and see some kind of acknowledgement from God, some reward for my little steps. But God wants all the steps whether or not He rewards me individually for each one. In fact, a lot of the things He wants me to do or not do are specifically designed to bring natural blessings into my life. Why do I falter so much? Because of my inaccurate view of myself and because I am not living in complete dependence on God!
Dependency on God is a really difficult area for me. I don't like dependency, period; and as I get older and society says I'm supposed to be self-supporting--in fact family-supporting--I like it even less. But healthy dependency builds trust. Now there's a concept worth exploring. What is healthy dependency? It's possible to be dependent on something without losing myself. The dependency doesn't mean that the person who is dependent has no identity. The caregiver in a situation of healthy dependency provides guidance where it's needed and choices and control where possible. The caregiver also doesn't lose herself in this ideal setting because she is secure in who she is and is able to care for her own needs because a person who has a healthy dependency is able to tolerate delayed gratification and doesn't use the dependency to manipulate the caregiver emotionally.
How does this work in my relationship with God? He created me with dependencies specifically so that He could meet my needs and show His love to me. There is nothing I need that He cannot supply. I might think I know what I need, and in this mindset I use my dependency to manipulate Him. "Why would You let this happen?" "Don't You love me?" And in this mindset not only is my dependency torn down but also the core of my faith, and doubt begins to set in. But when I am dependent on God and He meets my needs, my trust and faith are built instead of being torn down.
The view of self thing is something I could write a few books on.I am bothered by the fact that "Christians" knock the concept of self-esteem as not "of God." In many people's mind, you're just not a Christian if you don't view yourself as bad and therefore in need of Jesus. That's a completely twisted view both of our relationship with God and of the concept of self-esteem. We shouldn't try to build self-esteem apart from God, but understanding our identity in Christ leads to high self-esteem. And high self-esteem is not equivalent to denying anything negative about ourselves. In fact, people with high self-esteem are comfortable admitting faults, mistakes, etc. They understand that having a weakness or making a mistake isn't a personal reflection on their character. The issue isn't about whether self-esteem is a Biblical concept or not. The issue is where it comes from. Being humble doesn't mean never acknowledging our gifts or strengths. It means acknowledging and using them without tearing other people down. It means being teachable and willing to correct mistakes and repent when we sin--because we all do.
I'm having some difficulty connecting with these concepts emotionally right now, but I do know they are true and that at some point I will connect with them. I am listening, and I am thinking over these things and choosing to take action based on truth and not on my emotions. That's how faith comes by hearing...