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Posts Tagged ‘Self-sufficiency’

I have these little things called self-sufficiency and independence that seem to be the thorns in my side. I think I popped out of the womb as “Miss Independent.”

As far back as I can remember I have always fought to do my own thing. I thought I could teach myself how to ride a bike, climb trees, play sports, tie my shoes, and pretty much anything my older brother was doing.

I am an independent.

There is also a side of me that has learned how to be very self-sufficient as well. When I was a junior in high school, my family experienced a huge change through the confessed affair of my father. That event was a catalyst for this independent girl to shift right into complete self-sufficiency. I also carry around the apple that fell from the tree of strong and stubborn from my mom as well.

As everyone in my family was trying to emotionally put life back together, the survival skill of self-sufficiency took deeper roots in me.

I have carried around the messages that life has been up to me, and that I am responsible for what happens. There is some level of truth that. However, this does not leave a lot of room for surrender.

At some point we all battle with playing the role of being our own kings. We decide that we can do it better than God and manage whatever we are facing; and onto the throne we go.

We can look back in the Old Testament and see that for centuries the demands on and for a king have always failed. It is no mystery why I have experienced failure in my life every time I take on the throne.

Pain is the only result when stepping outside of what only He can do.

Surrender is something that is so hard for me. It goes against every grain of independence. I hate feeling out of control, and choosing to surrender immediately brings on that feeling. My heart constantly feels the tension of playing Tug-Of-War with God.

I have spent my whole life as an independent. I don’t know how to make the shift from independence to dependence on God. I know it’s a choice – a choice that takes trust and risk. I am working on choosing to find contentment in feeling out of control. I am definitely tired of experiencing failure.

Surrendering is a hard choice to make, but is worth it in the long run.

In what ways do you struggle with surrendering?

What are you holding on to that you might need to surrender?

 

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I am a fighter. I always have been. Maybe growing up with an older brother has engrained survival into me.

My brother and I would wrestle a ton. I would always lose. Looking back, there was not one time I can think of where I just didn’t try and fight back. I was never going to win no matter how many rounds we went. However, the reality of not winning was never my first response. I tried. I fought. He would literally toss me and I would just try running harder all the more.

Everyone experiences reaching that place where all of our resources are exhausted, and so are we. Every game has an ending where no more moves can be played. Every match has a final point. Every war requires someone to surrender in end.

I have been facing the reality, and the tension, that there is never a great time to surrender, but it is also never too late to surrender.

Surrendering is so hard for this self-sufficient girl. Surrendering seems to be the choice I make when it’s the only choice left to make.

This pattern of surrendering is costly to my heart and others. I usually get to the point of exhaustion before I realize what I have been running so hard after, has failed.

Surrendering can be associated with weakness. This is a misconception that can be costly. There is a lot of wisdom in choosing to surrender.

I was sweating it out on the Cross Trainer at the gym tonight. It was a simple but powerful metaphor for me. Sometimes I feel like I am trying so hard to pour all I have into life, relationships, transitioning, and even hoping. In the end, I am sweating hard, but still stationary.

Surrender is just hard. It is the wise choice to make before exhausting the road that leads to self-sufficient failure.

God is patient. He is always faithful in redirecting my failures back to him.

I need to get better at assessing the battle. This doesn’t mean to not try, but it means to try well.

For me, surrendering facilitates waiting, as well as enabling me to choose faith verses my own abilities.

Surrendering does not mean the white flag of failure. Surrendering is the wisdom sustaining obedience.

Today, I am going to try and walk out my day surrendered.

What does surrendering mean and look like for you?

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Asking for help is not something that comes easy for me. I always try and figure out every way possible to do something on my own. I will also assess how much I can do on my own before asking for help.

Moving is a great example of this. We all have things we can move on our own, like boxes, but when it comes to furniture, we need help. I am a person who thinks that furniture can be moved by my own strength. It’s a losing battle.

Self-sufficiency is one of my greatest weaknesses. Being stuck in a life-long pattern of self-dependency builds walls in lots of areas.

The areas I am most self-sufficient in are those related to my heart. I am not a person who discloses much, or easily. There are many scars on my guarded heart, which have paved the way for my choices of self-sufficiency.

Most often, the fruit of self-sufficiency is isolation, frustration, and failure.

Self-sufficiency is a huge barrier between me and God. Every time I say, “I can do this,” God is taken out of the equation. God is always patient in letting me exhaust myself before I come back and surrender.

I have been going rounds with God about breaking this pattern in me. I am a visual learner, so it helps me to see it to get it. I finally got a glimpse of how self-sufficiency plays out in my relationship with God.

There is a story in the Bible where Jesus and his disciples take off in a boat. While in the boat, a huge storm begins to swell. Waves were crashing over the side while strong winds challenged the boat’s engineering.

Jesus was asleep in the stern while the disciples worked furiously to save the boat. It was only when the disciples had exhausted all of their options that they included Jesus in their crisis. When the disciples finally approached Jesus, they did not just ask him for help, they blamed him for not caring.

I can see how this scenario has played out so many times in my own life with God.  I have blamed God for not acting, when in reality I never even asked him to participate. The disciples blamed Jesus for not stepping up and saving them from drowning. I am facing the reality that I call on God most often at my own drowning points.

The truth is that Jesus is the one waiting to be involved in our lives. My self-sufficiency illuminates my feeble faith. I always come up short on my own strength. The storm is always bigger than me, and beyond my ability.

God is waiting to be invited into our everything.

What are you trying to do on your own that is NOT working?

Are you going through anything where God might be waiting on you to invite him in?

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There have been some pointed times in my life where I can hear God. Those words are usually in bite size sentences. Whatever the words, they stick. Sometimes he just asks a question. Sometimes he speaks tenderly to me. Lately, I have been hearing his soft tender voice with simple words that get into my core.

As I have been thinking through this season of life I am in, I keep hearing the repeated question of, “Tracee, am I enough?

My knee jerk reaction is to say, “of course you are Lord.” Almost like Peter saying to Jesus, “you know I love you”on the beach that day. But is he?

Maybe I need to be asked three or more times like Peter. A repeated response can start to make you think.

I have talked before about my struggles with knowing that I am enough, but what about God? Is he enough for me?

There are conversations in the bible where God says, “I am with you.” The same is true for someone who follows after him. This is a promise.

So why do I dismiss the promise? What keeps me from believing?

For me, my lack of belief stems from different things. I have old patterns of life that keep me on the path of self-sufficiency. Out of that place, I choose the way of control more than trusting in him. I can depend on my logic verses faith that believes in what is unseen.

I also struggle with beliefs about my self-worth. If I am being honest, I question being someone who is worth staying with. Therefore, it seems easier to dismiss the promise for me.

Another subtle way I can dismiss the promise is by asking others to pray for me. I also realized that I can depend on the prayers of others to talk to God for me rather than believing in his words for me. As if saying that someone else is more worthy of the promise than me. God says to me, “Tracee, I am with you.” Those words are for me.

To really grasp the understanding of God being WITH me would change my life and perspective. I know my life would look so different if those words took on weight. Those words matter. Those words should be everything to me.

I want God, and just God, to be enough for me. I think about how much pressure, and even sometimes demand, would be removed from other people if I believed God was enough. There is freedom, even for myself, when I surrender to the promise that He is enough.

He is working on me. The more I understand that he is enough, I will know that I am as well.

Is God enough for you?

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Hope is one of those things that can over joy the heart or make it sick. Hope feels like both the long anticipated climb to the top of a hill on a roller coaster, and the adrenaline of the drop down. Hope is anticipated. Hope is hoped for.

There is hope in the seen and the unseen. To hope could look like:  good grades, promotions, restoration, something new, success, dreams fulfilled, community, good days, or maybe that your alarm will go off. Maybe you hope for security and safety.

Hope has been on my heart this week. I find myself saying, “I hope” a lot. I am even saying it more talking with other people. I really do hope for many different things for people.

I spent some time reading about hope. It comes down to the truth that hope is nothing without Christ. He is our hope. Hope is believing in something only he can do. Hope depends on everything that is outside our own abilities. Our hope is to be in Christ. Hoping for good things is not bad, but setting your heart of hoping in God is what makes hope become hope.

Hope is the foundation of faith. Faith “is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.

God is the only sure thing that can be hoped in. Is it hard to hope? Heck yes! Scripture also says to defer yourself hope will “make your heart sick.” Settling for a life without hope is dangerous to the soul. Hope brings life. Hope keeps the pulse of life going.

My heart needs some hope in the unwavering. There is so much freedom waiting for me if I would just risk to place all my hope eggs in his basket.

Hope takes faith. Faith takes hope.

The promise is awesome. Hope in him “will not disappoint.” How many things do you hope for/in right now that carry this promise?

What are you hopeful for?

What does it look like to hope for you?

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Right before the start of Jesus’ public ministry, the last three years of his life, he was led by the holy spirit into the desert. Jesus had just been baptized by John the Baptist, and the Holy Spirit descended down on to Jesus. Then a voice thundered out from the father identifying Jesus as his son.

Amazing events before the desert. I can remember how awesome I felt when I surrendered my heart to Christ as a teenager. I was at a Young Life camp in VA. It was a great risk for my heart to take, being surrounded by others who were contemplating the same decision.

But what about after camp? That was a fearful thought for me. I would return home different then when I left. How does that transition happen? I remember thinking that I wish I had some transformation time. I wish I could’ve had an in-between time to really grasp what had just taken place in my heart. Now I understand a little more the value of the desert.

Before Jesus was to take on the road of dying for our sin, he needed some time. He spent 40 days in the desert. At the end of his time there, the devil approached him with three specific temptations.

The past couple weeks, I have really began looking at the significance of these temptations. There were three major areas where the devil tried to entice Jesus. If these were core areas to attack for Jesus, chances are they would be for me as well.

The first card in the temptation deck was, “if you are the son of God, command this stone to become bread.” This temptation attacks an area of basic need for Jesus. The devil enticed Jesus to go outside of God to meet his needs. The devil was also challenging Jesus to prove his identity. In essence, if Jesus could turn the stone into bread, he would prove his identity and ability to provide for himself. The temptation is to act independently from the father to prove ourselves.

This temptation resonates with me. I have talked about being a self-sufficient person before. I know I can fall short of depending on God to provide for my legitimate needs. In response, I take action for myself. I can struggle with thinking that I have to make things happen for myself. Sometimes my identity can get wrapped up in my actions.

Jesus did not cave. He remembered his past 29 years and 39 days of believing in the father. Jesus rested in his identity being in the father. He remembered those sweet words of, “this is my son, in whom I am well pleased.” He looked at the devil and stated his father’s words, “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word from the mouth of God.

I want to rest secure in my identity in Christ. For the father says to us all, “you are my beloved.” That never changes. I am praying through the ways I can entrust myself more to Him to meet my needs. I desire to live on every word that comes from the mouth of God. That is the only answer to my legitimate needs. The temptation entices me to being enslaved, but believing in God for my needs leaves me free. I desire to confidently respond to temptation the way Jesus did.

Thank you Jesus for the example!

How are you tempted to provide for yourself?

In what ways are you tempted to prove your identity and worth?

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Getting lost is a very frustrating thing. I can remember a time when I found myself lost driving around in the labyrinth that is downtown Washington, DC. Every road seemed to lead me further and further away from my desired destination. The longer I spent wandering around the “not so great part of town” the more I grew in anxiousness and fear. When I finally arrived at where I was supposed to be, I missed half of the party I’d been really excited about.

This illustration always reminds me of how my sin leads me in a labyrinth away from my desired relationship with the Lord. The definition of sin is – anything in our thoughts, words, or actions that create distance and separation in our relationship with the Lord. The bible states that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Everyone has experienced separation from God.

The bible also describes the “wages of sin as being death.” There have been some clear times in my life where I have experienced death in my sin. I can honestly say that when I experience separation in my relationship with God, I feel a loss of life. In essence, failing is what happens when separation from God is experienced. It feels like death.

Life is meant to fail outside of him. Sin is failure to remain in him. Sometimes I am more aware of my failures. Sometimes it takes the nudging of frustration, a hunger for satisfaction, or a growing attitude of demand or entitlement to open my eyes to failure.

The weight of sin and failure can seem harsh and relentless in our lives. If you think about it, God wants to use our failures as redirection to himself. Where God is present, so is the nagging opposition of one who would love to silence the voice of redirection.

There are many lies that can accompany failure. Satan would love for you to attach yourself to words such as worthless, wounder, incompetent, unlovable, unforgivable, or damaged. He would love for us to believe that forgiveness has limits, or that the love of God has a cut off point. We grow up with a built in mentality of, “you got yourself into this, you get yourself out.

I am guilty of staying in the place where these lies carry too much weight in my life. The truth is that God has no limits. God will never stop redirecting us back to himself. We will fail. We will wander. But my hope is that you will begin to see and know that he is God. I am hoping big for the weight of failure to fall away from your life and mine. I am praying for a heart that exhales in the gift of redirection.

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