Monday, January 7

Be BRAVE in 2013

I love this time of year. Well, honestly, I would love it more if it was just a wee bit warmer. But, that's just me. And, I know it's SUPPOSED to be cold in January. So, I try not to complain too much. Still.... ready for warmth.

In the past couple of years, I've heard so many say that they just don't do resolutions anymore, because they've grown tired of not accomplishing them. Actually, I've spoken those same words plenty of times. But, this year, I have a different view. Throughout 2012, I was introduced to people in situations that seemed hopeless to them. Now, they wouldn't TELL you that they'd lost hope. But, their choice in phrases gave them away.

It doesn't matter. That's never worked for ME.

That SOUNDS good, but I know it wouldn't work.

I'm just going to be (you fill in the blank) forever.

I'm sure you've heard something similar before.Maybe you've even spoken something similar before. I know that I have. But, this year, I'm concerned with the WHY behind those statements.

You see, I believe that these phrases reveal the wish for something new, different, BETTER, long ago. But, somewhere along the way, we have grown comfortable in our circumstances. We've decided that THIS is GOOD ENOUGH, because our attempts at change haven't panned out.

Do any of these situations sound familiar to you?

I've read all of those books on having a better marriage. They don't work for us! I can't do all of that alone, and I don't get any help. I just need to be satisfied with things as they are.

I know that I need to lose a few pounds, but I don't know where to start. And, I've tried every diet trick in the book. They've never worked! I'll give this a try, BUT... I'm not expecting much.

I'm so sick of struggling financially. I've begged God to show us a way out, and there have been NO answers. I guess He wants us to struggle forever. 

Well, I'm sorry. But, that's just the way I am.

Hopelessness. It's buried in every one of those examples. And, why do we wind up at this point after numerous attempts at change. I believe the answer to that question is FEAR. If I continue to push, to try, to work and then continue to lose, to FAIL, to quit, what does that say about me? That fear causes many (including me at times) to count ourselves out before we ever start. That way, we can be the victims and say, "well, I knew it wouldn't work. But, at least I tried."

You see, I believe that we all get to a point in early adulthood where we determine the way our lives are going to go. Maybe that is the point when we really come to terms with what we want out of life. And, even if we don't do it in an organized and formal manner, I think we all sort of map out our whole lives as we think they should go.

But... the problem is that they rarely go THAT way. In our youth, however, we will continue to force that map, because it's a GOOD plan. It encompasses ALL that we've hoped for and imagined. No matter how hard we push, though, some things just never work out like we'd hoped.

And so, we wind up at a crossroads. Do I continue to face life with the same hope and drive that I always have even though the outcomes might look different than I originally planned? Or, do I stew over the fact that no matter how hard I try, certain things just never work for me?

The answer to this question determines whether our lives move on dictated by HOPE and successes or BITTERNESS and quitting. And, really... this IS our choice! God determined that it would always be OUR choice. And, each and every time we find ourselves in the middle of our struggle (you know the ONE that seems to ALWAYS be there), we have to determine whether we want to be hopeFUL or bitter.

So, what are your struggles? Life has many. And, it's so easy to look at someone who SEEMS to have it all together and say, "they have NO idea what I'm going through." And, many times they do not. I, personally, have NO idea about the struggles of; drug/alcohol addiction, extreme overeating and weight gain, infertility, single motherhood, and this list could go on and on. But, if I'm honest, I DO know the pain of struggling financially. This is a constant battle for us. And, I DO know the struggle of growing up in a family divided. And, that is a struggle that doesn't go away when you leave the house. Every stage of my life has brought about new struggles in this area. Unfortunately, I DO know the struggles involved in rebuilding a marriage when trust has been broken.

Here's what I've learned about my own struggles.... They are all very different, but they all have one thing in common. I'm constantly taking a few steps forward followed by a few steps back. And, when I take the steps backward, I am consistently faced with the temptation to say, "Forget it! I just can't make this work". And, the next time that I'm faced with the opportunity to see a little hope for better in my struggles, I have to decide if I'm going to be BRAVE enough to HOPE for that change.

Yes. Brave!

It's a brave person that looks at the challenge/struggle set before her... you know, the one that's been there FOREVER... and says, "this time could be different". Only the brave would choose to TRY when every previous effort has failed.

Does it make sense to continue to hope in somewhat hopeless situations? NO! Is it easy to hope when EVERY past example says that to do so would be insane? NO! Does the Bible call us to this kind of hope? YES!

And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance produces character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5: 3-5

See.... It's never silly or shameful to hope for better as believers. Our hope is in the Lord. He is the ONE, the ONLY ONE, that can change/modify our situations and struggles. He doesn't NEED my help to fix these struggles that I continue to have. But, He's determined that I work WITH Him to overcome. That's free will. 

We all have the choice to walk forward in HOPE or to dig our heels in and stand firm in FEAR that acts out in bitterness. I've seen both!

One response is Godly, beautiful, inviting and makes THIS life seem like the adventure with God that it is. The other response is worldy, ugly, repelling and makes life seem like drudgery until death. The answer seems obvious, yet the most attractive choice ISN'T the choice easily lived out.

So.... 2013. What do you want? What are you wishing for? What would you like to see God achieve IN YOU? 

Be brave, my friend! Hope for it with all that you have. This could be the year that, with Him, we see our resolutions fulfilled. 

Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

But, be careful. When we truly delight in the LORD, the desires of OUR hearts become the desires of HIS heart and sometimes end up looking NOTHING like the original desires of OUR hearts.

He's good like that.....