Breaking Up is Hard to Do…

“This is my prayer: that your love may abound more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.” Philippians 1:9-10

Under the conviction of the Holy Spirit I recently made several dramatic changes to my lifestyle (1 Cor. 6:12-13, 19-20). I’ve found, through the implementation of these new habits, many “bad” habits came to light I was unaware of. As I mediated on such things I discovered three sources of influence over my choices:

#1-Parents

Some of the things I’ve done my whole life are a direct result of how I was raised (this is not a ding against my parents but merely a fact-see Proverbs 22:6). It’s extremely difficult to replace habits practiced for more than twenty years-but it can be done. The Holy Spirit has strengthened and enabled me to follow His will for my life today. (Phil. 4:13)

#2-Media

If I spend too much time reading/viewing secular media, I find it tempting to become overwhelmed with a wide variety of opinions (Rom. 12:1-2).  One week something is bad for you and the next week that same thing is good for you. If I choose to believe everything I read without seeking the will of God through His word and prayer, I will be on a constant roller-coaster of frustration.

#3-Christians

Many well-meaning Christians have a variety of opinions based on their interpretation of Scripture and their own experiences in life (often relating to how they were raised-something we all do). More often than not, I have experienced a great deal of criticism within Christianity regarding lifestyle choices, especially anything that contradicts what someone else is doing. Everyone has an opinion, interpretation, and a judgment. (Matt. 7:1-5) The only way I can really know what is best for me is to spend time in the word and prayer. (Phil. 4:6-7)

This isn’t the first time I’ve received negative feedback regarding a personal choice, but I do believe I am following God’s will for my life (recognizing this is not His specific calling for every believer). I’ve done research and made, what I believe to be, an informed decision based on that research and my relationship with God. I am the one who will answer for my choices; it is imperative I do whatever it takes to maintain a clear conscience before God. (James 4:17)

I’m now questioning every choice I make under this light: is it God’s word and Spirit guiding me or the habits and opinions of others?

Well, That’s Not How I See It….

“Mommy, when I’m 29 like you, I won’t be afraid anymore!” My daughter has an interesting perspective on things. She firmly believes that everything will be better for her when she is older. Eventually we are faced with the reality that life does not get easier with age.

Children can be short-sighted in their perspective.

They get excited over little things like petting animals at a farm, eating at a special restaurant, or getting a new box of crayons. Their world is small and simple and they usually don’t understand why the adults are so serious. They want to run and play, laugh and learn while the grown-ups have to work and budget, say “no” to their wants, and discipline the bad choices.

As adults our perspectives can be influenced by outside sources. Some may become “pessimistic” because they see everything in their life as a personal attack against them. There is the “glass-half-full” crowd who appear bubbly and worry free most of the time, skipping gleefully by the faulty elements surrounding them. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

Media plays a role in our views. We are inundated with messages to look good, spend money, get rich, and seek personal happiness at any cost to those around us. We receive messages from other people that may influence our perspective. Recently my daughter looked up at my husband and said, “Daddy, you’re fat! I think you eat too much!” I quickly shushed her and explained that it wasn’t nice to call people “fat”. However, my husband was deeply affected by that statement from his wide-eyed four year old even though he knew she was not being malicious. A few minutes later he came to us and exclaimed, “Daddy’s going on a diet!” For some reasons my pleas for him to improve his health went unnoticed, but this comment from his daughter was a powerful motivator. Over time we each receive similar messages from people about who we are and what we are worth which shapes how we view ourselves and our world.

God also has a perspective, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9) His perspective is far superior to ours and as much as we try to understand, it will always surpass our complete comprehension.

God’s perspective is righteous, “Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”(Hosea 14:9), and eternal, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

Understanding how God sees things should effect how we see things. As we learn his ways we recognize through our circumstances we are given opportunities to trust him (Psalm 37:7-9), be rewarded (Proverbs 14:14), mature (Philippians 4:11-13), and fulfill our purpose (1 Corinthians 7:17, Ephesians 2:10).

Today I woke up and checked my electricity meter. (We have a pay-as-you-go system where we load our card with whatever amount of money we want then insert it in our meter to purchase as much electricity as we can afford at any given time.) It read $3.34 and I chuckled to my husband, “Not bad!” That would get us a few more hours of lights, computers, televisions and air-conditioning. There was a day when I would have panicked at the same scenario but I realized this morning that God is reshaping my perspective. He uses his word of truth, wisdom of Godly friends, and sometimes the honest remarks of my little Samantha.

As I traverse my God-given path through life,

 I’m trying to be mindful of my limited and somewhat faulty perspective. I’m determining to give my experiences to God and trust him with the results. Thank you, Jesus, for continuing to mold my perspective.

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am God, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4