I really started this journey of Everyday Abiding about a year and a half ago, but several months before that I heard Charles Stanley’s message about Abiding and that seed was planted. I knew that is what I was going for. I knew that is what the Christian life should look like.
But, I seemed to live in reality, or at least the reality that is tainted by the devil and that way he spins everything against me. You know, I still battle with low self-esteem. I still battle with worry and negativity. I still battle with busyness. And I am still ready to plan a pity party as soon as the urge hits.
So, as much as I wanted this growth, as much as I wanted to grow from the Vine, I seemed to be walking in quicksand. I was not achieving this peaceful, I-live-in-a-monastery vibe I was going for.
Sure, I was spending more time with God. I was reading my Bible, praying, doing all the right things to ensure growth, and more than anything, God was speaking to me. I knew He was there. But as soon as I left my little prayer office or closed my Bible, I seemed to be my old self all over again.
I felt like I was fighting a losing battle – and in some ways I am – this is a battle I cannot fight alone. But the Spirit began to show me several seemingly insignificant areas of my life where I was allowing the Vine to take control. He showed me several ways I am abiding in him, even if they sound a little crazy.
1) I have let go of much of the perfection I tried so hard to achieve.
As I think I about this, I see it in several small ways. I wear very little makeup now and my diva status has dropped significantly, but more than that, I see it in my parenting. I have let go of perfection in my parenting.
Pinterest has made parenting so much harder. You can’t just send goldfish and juice boxes to snack day any more without feeling a tinge of guilt, but that is what God showed me I have let go.
I actually turned in my daughter’s homework late. She is in preschool, so any homework she has is really for the parents and I just totally forgot about her assignment. I know many of you think this is no big deal. But I am a teacher and I am a control freak and you put those things together and that equals no late assignments. Ever.
But I did turn it in late and you know what matters more than that – it didn’t bother me. I didn’t stress over it. I didn’t worry about what the teacher may think. I didn’t stress that my value of a mother had decreased because I turned in a late assignment. I just let it be a late assignment.
My daughter also has some delayed speech issues. When initial testing began, she could not say anything correctly. We went through the proper process and now, at three, she is being served for speech. This falls under the special education umbrella. My daughter has an IEP, individualized education plan.
Now, you non-educators may not understand, but at one point this would have been a pretty big deal, a huge source of worry for me. An IEP means struggle and trials and hard work – harder than most – and for some it may even mean being made fun of. Sure, my daughter’s IEP is for speech only, but there is a connotation of worry and concern associated with an IEP, for parents and teachers.
I am sure there a parents out there who understand what I am saying. We worry so about our children and I know there parents out there who I cannot begin to understand their struggles, but don’t miss the point here.
When I walked into her placement meeting, I was okay. I wasn’t stressed or worried. I kept waiting for it to hit or take me by surprise, but it didn’t. I had let the Vine have control. I let the Spirit lead and He gave me peace and reminded me that this didn’t have to be a big deal – if I didn’t let it.
I don’t have to worry about perfection by the world’s standards. As I continue to grow and abide, I am reminded to focus more on love and grace by God’s standards.
2) I now love Hallmark movies – even ones that aren’t christmas themed!
I know you may be thinking “How do Hallmark movies show that she is growing closer to God?” Well, it took a while before I realized it too, but in years past I did NOT like Hallmark movies. I thought they were cheesy and predictable (they still are predictable), but as I have grown closer to God, I am doing my best to distance myself from the world, and that includes most things on television.
The more I grow in Him, the less I find on T.V. entertaining. It is hard to be entertained by sin and so much of what is on television is just that – sin. We can sugar coat it. We can ignore it. We can turn the channel when our children walk in, but it is still there.
God convicted me about all that I see and hear – and read (of course I still mess up), but I know these things become apart of my thought processes, a part of my reactions and I have enough sin in my heart without the help of the outside world.
So gradually my love for Hallmark movies has increased. It’s not cheesy – but wholesome. My kids can lay in bed with me on a Friday night and I don’t have to worry about anything they will see. And while it may be predictable, it is feelgood. It leaves me content and happy, as opposed to aggravated and restless – like many other things on T.V. leave me feeling.
As I grow closer to the vine, I am definitely more aware of what I take in and I want all that I take in to be Godly.
3) I have learned to think about Jesus in the mess.
So picture this with me. We have only been in our brand new, custom built house for a little over a year. And I drop a brand new bottle of coral fingernail polish from the top shelf in my bathroom. So now, Crawfishin’ for a Compliment Coral is splattered on my tile floor, my white cabinets, my closet door, my closet carpet, several pair of my shoes (because no, they were not put away nicely) and I later discovered my white denim jacket.
In my haste, I fall to the floor with the makeup wipe in my hand, as if that is going to clean it up. But instead of thinking this process through, I drop to my knees and land on a chunk of glass from the nail polish bottle. So now, on this Saturday night, I have blood pouring from my leg mixing with the nail polish on my floor (wonder what OPI would call this color?!?)
Yes, I nearly had a moment of panic. I mean this in not how I planned spending the next 45 minutes of my Saturday night. But I took a deep breath and began to deal with the situation.
While on my hands and bandaged knee, I began thinking – there is purpose here. God wants me to realize something. What does he want me to learn?
And to be honest, it may have been just to prompt this blog, because it is one I have been thinking about for a while, but couldn’t come up with a third reason. Through nail polish and blood, Jesus gave me my third reason.
While I have so far to go, and my imperfections sometimes stare me in the face like a big pimple on my nose, Jesus wants me to see more. He wants me to see the way He is changing me. He wants me to see how I am growing through Him.
None of this is happening because of me. But in moments of frustration, in moments where I am ready to give up, Jesus wants me to see how far WE have come. Yes, that children’s song “He’s still working on me” comes to mind, because He is, but He also wants me aware of the work He has already done. He wants me to see all the potential.
But the potential of Christ is not just for me.
It is for you too. I bet if you step back, you have many different examples of growth through Christ. I bet you can see where He is growing you also.
And if you can’t…you just don’t think you have changed at all – don’t take this the wrong way – but you must not be doing something right. Go to God. Go to the Word. Give up control and get ready to change. A journey can be traveled in baby steps and the scenery will still change. Let Him change you. Let him grow you. He will.