Thursday, January 23, 2014
My Big Lesson of 2013 and my Big Goal of 2014
Yesterday I wrote about the things I hope to accomplish in 2014. They were the somewhat attainable, somewhat trackable sort.
Write five letters. check. Exercise three times a week. check. Plant a tree. check.
One of the biggest goals I have for the new year was not on that list. This is because, it isn't a check-off-and-be-done sort of goal. It is a life pursuit. What is it? Well, to tell you, I have to go back a step or two.
Last year I began to struggle with a particularly unlovely sin. Jealousy. I happen to be blessed to have a very dear, very beautiful, very talented, very funny, very wise, very good, very loving, very admirable friend. But because of the ugly, gnarled-down-deep sin of jealousy, I began to see all her beautiful, talented, wise and good traits as being something to despise her for and not (rightly) as something to rejoice with her over. It was a secret struggle, but a painful one. My jealousy turned to rage which turned to self-deprecation and loathing. If she was this, I was the opposite. I was untalented, unkind, foolish and unlovely. (And, looking back now, unlovely was what I really was.) I hated myself for being such a failure in life and as a woman and I hated myself for being jealous in the first place. I knew I was acting ridiculous and thinking ridiculous things. I knew that this jealousy was a poison to my soul, to my joy and to my friendship. I knew it was wretched and I was wretched in the struggling. I also knew I must stop this foolishness, but I didn't know how. I wanted to fix it- but every time she (untryingly) was witty or clever or creative or loving, up that green monster popped and left me loathing myself all the more.
Finally, at wit's end, I did something I don't often do. I prayed that the Lord would help me get OVER this sin. (I know what you are thinking...duh, Rebecca. That's what you do! But bear with me here...) I begged Him, knowing that I would fail miserably (as I had every time before) if I tried on my own. I prayed and I prayed. For days. For weeks. I prayed before I saw her. I prayed after I saw her. I prayed for her, thanking God for the gifts He so abundantly blessed her with and thanking God for the gifts He has so abundantly blessed me with. But most importantly and most fervently, I prayed that God would pull me out of the mire of my sin when I had seen that doing it on my own was certain failure. I asked Him to fix me.
Now, I have always been a pray-er. A person of prayer. A prayerful person. When I say "I'll pray for you" I actually MEAN it. I pray frequently and with hope. I thank God for his blessings and gifts in my life more than daily. I pray prayers of repentance even more-so. I pray and pray and pray on behalf of my friends, family and strangers...praising God for the triumphs, petitioning God for the pain. I pray for grace, I pray for patience, I pray that Matt will live to be 90 and I live to be 85 and we die on the same night, holding hands. (I do. I'll admit it.) I pray that God will keep me from my own sinfulness and make me wise.
But somewhere along the line, I forgot that God is there in the trenches, when I am filthy and tired and exhausted from wrestling on my own. That God WANTS me to depend upon Him when I can't depend upon myself. That He WANTS me to seek Him for help and to cry out in my distress. Somewhere along the line, I had forgotten that not only is God glad to hear my remorse when I sin, but He wants to hear my supplication and my cry, to hear me say "Take this from me. Take it now."
How could I miss this? When exactly had I stopped depending on Him to help me through the muck and mire of my particular sins? When exactly had I just decided to try to trudge through and try to be better on my own, just to fail miserably...over and over again?
He used the grace and gifts of a friend to draw me back to relying fully and completely upon Him. And not only that, but to remind me that I am not in this thing alone. In fact, I am not even a huge part of the equation.
The end of the story is this- God heard. He drew me up out of the quagmire of my own sin and in doing so, reminded me, yet again, of His love for me. He is my Big Goal this year and for all the year's I have. That I remember to ASK, SEEK, KNOCK. Not just for others- but for myself, too.
God isn't just a God of the future...of the heavenly places. He is a God of right here and right now.
Not only can God give us what we want, He can free us from what we don't want. He can bless us by heaping and He can bless us by taking away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.