A better way…(more thoughts on what bogs us down and what brings us up!)

Asking the question, “what is best for me?” is quite a challenging question to pose. Yet, I think there are commonalities to be found in answering this question for all of us.

I guess because I’ve made so many blunders along the way, some HUGE, and many more registering rather high on the emotional toll scale for both me and others in my life, I’ve had to grapple with how to overcome, to live beyond my mistakes; I’ve had to learn.

The process of coming to terms with my own suffering and the sufferings of others has caused me to dig deeply into my own mind and heart, to become purely honest concerning my failures, choices, and motives. Something happens when we own our failures, when we look ourselves in the mirror and determine to see truth. Without first confronting and understanding our own sins and shortcomings, how are we ever able to grow and learn or find it in our hearts to forgive others?

There are necessary sufferings, I believe, in every life in order for maturity to occur. These sufferings result from this very process I’m describing, stepping away from casting blame and pointing fingers at others in effort to disavow ourselves of any wrongdoing. If we are adults, we have failed somewhere along the way. “To err is human,” truth indeed.

I’m not saying we should walk around with our heads down and a somber countenance or live in a constant state of regret. Hardly! I’m saying, we must first look with accepting eyes to the truth of all things, then we may find the road to peace.

We live in a complex and fallen world. Seemingly, everyone is inclined to wanting his own way and that leads from one problem to another to another and then another! There are theories to attempt explanation for every thought, feeling, or behavior known to man, yet do we find definitive, helpful answers that truly alleviate suffering in any of them? Probably not.

Forever and again, I come back to the issues of love and forgiveness. Without finding the fault in ourselves and our own need for forgiveness, we cannot find it in ourselves to forgive others. Without love and forgiveness, there is no way out of discord and into harmony and peace.

I desire for others to have love in their hearts, peace in their minds, and joy in their daily lives. I so often connect with sweet people I don’t even know in brief encounters that add to my joy as we exchange kind words wherever we find ourselves in close proximity. It makes for gentler days. Ladies at the grocery store, kids at the park, guys in line at the coffee shop…we are all just people trying to make it in this tough world. After all, so many commonalities we share and yet so many feel desperately alone. It just breaks my heart!

I think of those who feel like outcasts, who feel they’ve gone too far to ever find their way back to simpler times, to loving ways, and happiness in their hearts. If only they knew…I’ve been there. I stayed there for far too long, but I can now say with assurance, there is hope!

I cannot sit through a sermon on the lady in Luke 7 who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair without shedding more cleansing tears. I don’t know the past of that particular woman, but I know enough from the context to see that she was considered to be a sinner and was looked down upon by others. Because of this, I can know, she could have been me. Regardless of how our particular sins may resemble or differ, the truth of the matter is, I am a sinner. Jesus spoke to the critics and accusers and made known to them that the woman whom they condemned was one He forgave. He also told them a truth too wonderful to ever forget. She, a sinner, loved Him greatly and He accepted her love and poured forgiveness and His cleansing on her. Even writing these words stirs my thankful heart and fills my eyes with tears.

What is best for me? Remembering that I am loved and forgiven by the only One righteous enough to judge, and knowing that He willingly accepts my love for Him and smiles with favor on my life in spite of all my sin. Knowing the deep valleys wherein I walked were leading me to a better place where I would share hope with others in the place where I now stand.

Do I live without struggles? Certainly not, but I live with hope and with an abiding joy that is hard to adequately describe. After a long, tiring day, I thought about all of this as I glanced out onto the front porch as the sun was going down. Casting those evening shadows over the swing where I spend many hours with the boys, the sun’s movement reminded me that life is still being lived, there is purpose for my remaining days, and home is a gift for which I must never take for granted.

I often think about all the things I now enjoy that seemingly went unnoticed for so many years of my life. Until my mind and emotions were settled, I wasn’t able to be still and see the blessings that abound in my life. I couldn’t immerse myself in the moment because my mind was preoccupied with worries, frets, and fears.

How deeply grateful I am that God has blessed me to live to see these days. How I long to encourage those who suffer to endure with hope, to trust that there is a better way, and you will find it if you persist. There were so many times I did not believe I would ever have peace, and yet I do! I continued to seek peace, to pray for peace, to pursue peace until I laid hold of peace and I know there is nothing, NOTHING EVER worth losing this precious gift I have inside.

Scriptures continue to come to my mind as I live out my days and ponder with thought all of these things I share. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God.” I look at this scripture and see as if with new eyes tonight. Past sin, sin that has been repented of, is not to hinder us from the joy that we have received as heirs to the promises of God through Jesus Christ. Surely this scripture is admonishing us to abstain from sin, but it may also serve to remind us of the forgiveness and the joy that we have in Him.

1 Peter 4:8 says, “…above all things have fervent charity (love) among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” Love and forgiveness are inextricably tied. How blessed is the life of one who determines not to be bound by the chains of strife and unforgiveness! It truly is a life of freedom to live lovingly without hostility, forgiving and forgiven.

And finally, what is best for all is to love and be loved. We are all loved, purely and perfectly by the God who created us. If only we can know that deep in our hearts and take comfort, then we may find rest for our souls. I love the very thought of rest for the soul and I’ll close this lengthy blog with some of the most beautiful words I’ve ever read. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…”

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