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"For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." I lived on the banks of a river . . . and it captured my attention. These are my observations about the parallels between my life...and the river.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Please don't try to change me.

People in relationships are interesting.  Especially relationships of a romantic nature.  When we're younger, with perhaps less maturity, or more innocence, we approach relationships with abandon -- willing to do anything, lay aside self, for the sake of the other -- or at the very least, each other.  What we want to do gets lost in the desire to do what the object of our affection wants to do.

In plain English, girls end up watching football when they'd rather be doing their nails, and guys end up at the mall holding purses while their girls are shoe shopping.

Not that this is bad, there certainly needs to be some give and take in relationships, some shared experiences, even if the hobbies themselves aren't shared.  It's about putting the other first.  But something happens as people mature in relationships.  I've seen it in myself.

In the beginning we're willing to do all the stuff the other person likes because we want them to like us.  We want desperately to make a connection.  Women do this especially.  But after a while who you really are starts begging to come out again.

When you see more mature people in relationship, you see more honest dialogue happening -- rather than feigning an interest in football or shopping, or whatever else, someone who has been through a few relationships will most likely be quite up front about what they like and don't like!  By this time you'll probably see women shopping together and men golfing together!  Not because their relationships are in trouble, but because they know who to do what with!  He likes to golf, she doesn't, and that's OK!!  Of course, some couples BOTH like to golf, (or some other hobby) and they do that together!  That's OK too.

Why, oh WHY is all of this on my mind tonight, you ask?  Because, of course, someone tried to "change" me today.  Tried to tell me what I should like, what I should want.  And I had to, most assertively, yet, graciously, tell him "no."

It's hard to be assertive and gracious at the same time.  Especially when you're annoyed and offended!  So the entire evening, as I was making dinner and then doing dishes, I had a tirade going on in my head about men who think they can come into my life and just take over -- there have been a couple of them!!  They have these detailed plans of how my life is supposed to be and what I'm supposed to do and how I'm supposed to change -- and better yet, apparently God "told" them all of this!  Funny thing is, He hasn't told me yet.  Anyone who approaches me because of what I can do for them, or be for them -- especially "after a few improvements" -- is clearly not pursuing me with the right motivation and perspective.

So, imperfect as I know I am, God is the only one I trust to completely remodel my life.  He is the only one that I will ever allow to say "OK, so here's the plan I have for you and the areas I want to change..."  Anyone else that can't accept me with my imperfections will be graciously, yet humbly, refused.  I am not a good enough or strong enough person to be all that someone else needs or wants me to be.  So if they have an agenda, I'm probably not the one.

Please.  Don't try to change me.   Also?  When I say "No."  I mean "NO."

Thank you.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

God must think I clean too much...

I tend to have a little OCD.  If you've been reading this blog long enough, you've seen it come up once or twice already!  I like to clean, I like to organize, I have my little routine, I like my life to go just the way I plan it.  I'm flexible enough to be able to handle curve balls, I'm prepared for emergencies and the unexpected, but for the most part, I like to be in control (to put it LIGHTLY!!).

But when chronic pain comes into your life, it takes over and you no longer have control.  

I've learned that this past year and I must say, it has NOT been my favorite life lesson.  As you can see from my last post, I also moved in the middle of it all, which added its own set of challenges.  But when chronic pain enters in, you pretty much lose control of the organized, controlled, perfect life that you may have had before.  

For me, it was all I could do to keep my job as the pain took over.  The social life and house work that I was normally entirely on top of started to be done less often.  The social life went completely down the drain, and instead of vacuuming and doing the floors a couple times a week (as was my norm) it became less and less frequent.  Thankfully, since I don't have any animals, and with just myself in the house, it wasn't like I descended into living in filth!!  

The funny thing is, after months of an internal battle, I finally realized that it was OK!  The world hadn't come to a screeching halt because I wasn't vacuuming my carpets every day, or wiping down every last bit of counter top in the kitchen before I went to bed every single night, even if I hadn't cooked.  In fact, everything was just fine and my home was quite neat, clean and comfortable.  

Most importantly, during this very difficult, dark time in my life physically, as God has allowed me to experience this trial that has impacted my life so much, He has shown me many life lessons about what really matters.  

Cleanliness matters.  Organization matters.  

But what matters more is balance.  He cares about me for who I am, not for how often I vacuum my carpet, or how sparkling clean my kitchen floor is.  Does that mean I shouldn't do these things?  Of course not.  It merely means that I should not put too much emphasis on them.  

I should not become obsessed with them.  I should do them because they need to be done, not because I need to do them.  

Subtle difference there, did you catch it?

And when I do only the things that need to be done, rather than doing things that make me feel like I've accomplished much and have value because I'm such a wonderful, OCD homemaker, why, then I have much more time to rest, and to spend with my Master Jesus.  

Speaking of Whom, I also realized that sometimes when we're out of balance He allows things to happen that bring us back into balance if we are willing to stop for a moment so He can help us find balance again.  

Paul said it so well when he spoke of his thorn -- "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you for My power is made perfect in weakness.'...That is why, for Christ's sake I delight in weaknesses, ...for when I am weak, then I am strong."    2 Cor 12:9-10

I have so much to learn, these are just a few musings from the past year.  My experience with chronic pain is not yet over, although my doctors have found and are treating the source, thank God!  I write this as a reminder -- I do not want to forget what I have learned; I hope that it may also encourage someone else to find the balance we need in our lives.  

Our value is in Him -- not in what, or how much, we do.  Never forget that.