I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.
O how marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful!
Is my Savior's love for me!
He took my sins and my sorrows,
He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calvary,
And suffered and died alone.
When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
’Twill be my joy through the ages
To sing of His love for me.
Have you ever had a God-initiated pep talk? I had one today. I was driving in the car with Brendan and I was talking to God (in my head) about how I've been feeling lately. I've been letting a lot of things control me--a lot of feelings and thoughts that can leave me emotionally incapacitated. I asked God why it is that I have all of these feelings and why they affect me in such dramatic ways. Suddenly, it was like my eyes were opened to a whole group of insecurities I didn't even know I had--things that obviously don't make real sense, but that were very real in my heart. When I realized I had these insecurities, I was able to say, "God, you take them. I know who I am in You. I know I have a place and I know I have a purpose." Sometimes I wonder what my place is in this world. I seem to meander a lot...maybe it's the years where you have young children that keep you in a bubble, I don't know.
But today I was able to say, "NO!" to my insecurities and to put them into His more-than-capable hands. I asked his forgiveness for letting my feelings about myself and about other people control me, and I asked his forgiveness for judgments I made against myself and against others. I'm a Responder (in the Life Languages), first and foremost, so I tend to want to defend people whom I think have been wronged. The problem with that is that I take control from God. I seem to forget sometimes that HE is the one who defends and vindicates.
So here I am. An unclean sinner, but one who is made clean by His blood. I need to hold my blessings with an open hand. I can't judge. I can't hold unforgiveness. I can't think of myself more highly (or less highly) than I ought to. I am wonderfully made and God says so. He has plans to prosper me and to give me hope and a future. I can be such a self-pitying little baby sometimes. Seriously. But in "Ruthless Trust", Brennan Manning talks about the fact that there's no real way to fight self-pity, but that it's necessary to set a time limit on it. So time's up.
Perspective is a good thing to get in a severe case of self-pity. It reminds us that it's not all about US. Today, a girl at M2M was talking about how her 21 year old sister has Stage 2 breast cancer and will have a double mastectomy. At 21 years old, I don't think I would have known what to do with something like that...from the scare I had last year, I don't know that I'd know NOW what to do with something like that. She said that she thinks her sister is handling it like a duck--calm above the water, but paddling like crazy under the water. But it gave me a little perspective and a smack upside the head. Sometimes I need one.
It's all about God. It's all about who he is and what he can do. It's all about learning to be like him...I know I fall short of that almost all of the time and I know I always will. That's because I'm not God and he is. I need to quit the navel-gazing and focus on what is important and on the bounty of blessings in my life. I am a joyful person, deep down inside. I have beautiful children. I have a great man who loves me and who loves God in the same way I do. I have positive things happening and I feel positive changes coming. I have good friends and a great family. How could I ask for more? I can't. I have everything I need and more.
"I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how he could love me, a sinner condemned, unclean." I am a sinner and I always will be. When I hold myself up next to God, I see how unclean I am. I see how dark I am on the inside. But I know that I'm loved and accepted in spite of that. If that doesn't make me grateful, nothing will. I have unmerited favor in my life and I can't take that for granted.
My hope is that you will remember that self-pity takes you backward, but real trust and true gratitude will take you forward. The more I've forced myself to focus on the blessings and positive things, the more I've BEEN blessed. It truly is a matter of perspective. If you can find 10 things to be thankful for each day...even FIVE things, for that matter...you will be a happier, emotionally healthier person. I guarantee it. We all have our moments (like my series of "moments" in the last few weeks), but we have the opportunity to better our lives just by shifting our focus a little. So make that choice to be grateful. It's so important.
All that said, I'm grateful for...
Dandelions. My kids think they're beautiful and always pick them for me. I wore one in my hair today. It's amazing how God can make something beautiful and bright come from a weed...hmmm...food for thought.
Sunshine and blue sky. Seeing them, even for part of the day, made me happier.
Sickness. I have a fever and I'm achy today. But I am able to remind myself that it will pass and I will get better. The best thing about sickness is remembering what it feels like to be well and knowing you'll be back there soon.
Friends. I have people in my life who really care about me and pray for me when I need it (and even when I think I don't), and I'm grateful for them.
My parents. They're good people who love Jesus and have devoted their lives to serving Him. They are a wonderful example. God has plans and surprises for them, and lots of amazing things to come.
Brainless TV shows. Yes, I'm thankful that I can rot my brain once in a while. When you're sick, a good, brainless TV show is awesome...as is a good book or a hot bath.
My bathtub. It sounds trivial, but it's my favorite escape in the house. A tub with jets rocks the free world. I'm serious. Sean put it in the upstairs bathroom for me (even though he uses it more than I do) and I love it.
Have a blessed day!