Greetings from the Akron-Canton Airport! I am officially on my way to Texas—and with it, freedom from all responsibility for the next FIVE DAYS. Freedom, people. I have no children with me, no dishes or laundry, no roles or obligations. I can do ANYTHING I WANT from now until Sunday. And I am choosing to blog with YOU. Now that's sayin' somethin'. I don't know what, but something.
As I sit here, alone with my thoughts and the other mid-week travelers who were thinkin' Arby's (I don't know why I've suddenly dropped my "g's" in my writing, but I'm havin' fun with it.), I am reflecting on my week. I won't lie to you, it's not been a good one. A lot has happened in the last few days, and this trip is MUCH needed. But God is good, and here are the lessons He has laid on my heart…
- Forgiveness is not a dot, it's a line. Just two days ago I gave this advice to a friend. I had no idea at the time that it was about to become very applicable to my own life. Forgiveness is essential to any human relationship—we are, after all, human. But because we're human, forgiveness is often not a one-time decision. Our hurt feelings don't just turn off. New issues and thoughts come up, new hurts remind us of old ones, negative interactions with someone we care about can impact the way we relate in the future. Forgiveness may have to be given—at least inside our minds and hearts—again… and again… and again. It is a conscious choice to say, "I'm giving up my right to hurt you because you hurt me." And sometimes that choice has to be made multiple times, in biting our tongues, in not allowing our minds to dwell on past hurts or "what I should've saids" or things like that. (Don't get me wrong, there are times that issues need to be readdressed. But that's a separate issue from just hanging onto hurt.)
- If you deal with the little leaks, you won't have big ones. I have shared before that I am a people pleaser. I don't like for people to be mad at me, to bring up things that are potentially uncomfortable or awkward. I don't like confrontation—but then again, who really does? But I have learned over the years that being upfront and honest in the short run can prevent a LOT of awkwardness and hurt feelings in the long run. Yes, there are times when we have to just let things go. But if something is bothering you and you are ignoring it, not letting it go, it will grow and grow and will eventually come out and be a MUCH bigger deal than if you handle it from the beginning. I would much rather someone be honest with me and hurt my feelings a little bit than allow something to fester and potentially destroy a relationship.
- We all fall short. I mentioned it before: We are all human. We are all sinners. We are all fallible. Everyone in life will at some point let us down—our friends, our parents, our children, even our spouses. So if we are hurting because of one human relationship, why do we think that another human is the place to go for comfort and solace and support? Yes, I know, it is important to be able to talk through your feelings with someone… but why aren't we quicker to turn to the One who will never let us down? The One who is perfect, who is always there, who loves us and guides us and comforts us the way that no person ever can? If I want to teach my children to not follow in my people-pleasing footsteps, then they need to see me go to my knees in times of trouble, not to the phone.
- We serve the same God. I heard the testimony of an amazing man named Stanley Tam over the weekend. I highly encourage you to check him out—he is unbelievable! The link I have given you is just one of many you will find if you Google him. ANYWAY, during his testimony he said that he had always admired a man named George Muller, who spent his life working with orphans. Muller would never ask anyone for money—if he had a need, he would shut himself in a room and pray for God to provide, and He always did. After sharing that tidbit, Stanley said, "Then I realized—I serve the same God that George Muller did. There's no reason I can't do the same thing." I'd never thought of it that way. The point is… it's not people who are great, it is GOD. We all have different roles in the body, but God can work just as powerfully in my life and your life as He does in Stanley Tam's or Billy Graham's or fill-in-the-blank-with-someone-whose-spiritual-walk-you-admire. It's not a matter of what you can do, but what you allow Him to do through you.
- Following God's will does not mean life is easy. This is the crux of my friend Leigh-Ann's ministry, but it is something that I am still learning. God has opened some tremendous doors for me in the past year or so, and I have eagerly followed. I haven't always made every right decision along the way, but I truly believe my heart is pure before Him. And you know what? Sometimes I still fail. Sometimes others disagree. Sometimes I still get hurt and struggle and worry. And sometimes that is not in spite of following God, sometimes it's just a part of the journey.
So there's my heart this morning. Wow, God's really working on even more than I realized in me. Have you ever read Max Lucado's book On the Anvil? I think that's where I am right now. God's hammering away, and sometimes it hurts, but it's shaping me into who He would have me to be. Amen, Lord. Have Your way in me.
Well, I'm down to a mere 1 ½ hours before my flight, and I have a full 20 feet or so to walk to my gate, so I suppose I should rush right over there. J By the way, the Akron-Canton Airport has a really nice kids' play area full of Step 2 stuff! It's so cool, I almost wish my kids were here to play with it. Almost.
I'll be working on my next Family Forest post on my day o' travel, too, so you'll be hearing more from me soon.