Life has a way of shaping us.
Last year around this time I started blogging. It was a wonderful experience. I sat at my computer for hours and drank cocoa and wrote copious treatises on my inspirations. I created a new entry every day.
How different it is now. I have developed reactive hypoglycemia, and I can’t drink cocoa on an empty stomach anymore without getting the shakes in an hour or so. When I eat, I haven’t been totally able to get my sugar levels right, and I never know how clear my mind will be. Often, the words don’t flow anymore. Instead, I jot down bits of ideas that might take shape at a time when I feel lucid.
It can be discouraging and disconcerting to experience change. Since I can define myself by performance, I despise feeling unproductive. I have started longing to have a job — something where I can measure my success, and get tangible evidence of my efforts — a paycheck. I KNOW I am doing the best thing I can do with my life by studying the Bible with others, and spending time to encourage them, but there’s just a part of me that cries out to use my talents to do something great with God.
Then, a couple of nights ago, I watched some of “Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawntreader.” In it, Lucy is tempted to use a spell to make herself beautiful. Aslan admonished her with a phrase that struck me to the heart, “You doubt your value.” His point to her was that her unique characteristics made Narnia what it was. If she was someone else, their lives and Narnia would have been completely different.
I doubt my value. I feel like what I am doing is not enough. I crave to do more, because deep down I feel it will increase my worth. But my unique characteristics have contributed in countless ways, even if they are small ways, to accomplishing good things as God intended them to be accomplished.
On Sunday, Jake talked in his sermon about the importance of having turning points. He shared about a very low point in his life when he was 17, and how that experience served to move him towards God in a deeper way. He could have turned away from God, or towards him, and because he turned towards the Lord, his whole future was vastly different.
Do I see my times of trial as turning points? Or do I see them as periods of weakness, thinking I will work on becoming stronger when they are over? Every experience can have a purpose. Every time of weakness can be a time when I make the decision to go to the Lord for the answers, instead of just gutting it out. This time of physical and mental weakness can shape me, if I lower my defenses and open myself to what God can teach me.
And what is God teaching me now? He is teaching me more and more about love. I joked to Ken that maybe I am experiencing physical challenges because I am working on loving others more, and they keep me compassionate.
I love what my friend David Webb said about love in a discussion we were having yesterday. It helps me see clearly how love should be a part of everything I do:
Any “morality” that is not about love is not of God, and is therefore not moral. There is no morality apart from love. Anything that is CONTRARY to love is immoral. Love is seeking and doing what is in the best interest of another. Therefore, anything that is not in another person’s best interest is immoral, BECAUSE IT IS NOT WHAT LOVE WOULD DO. In the same way, refraining from doing what is in the best interest of another, when one has the ability and opportunity to do it, is ALSO immoral, because it is not what love would do.
What did the turning point teach Jake? That God was enough, indeed, more than enough. And that has been my conclusion as well at the despondent times of life — that it’s just me and God, and having HIM is having riches.
So in this new year, I pray that I will be completely open to whatever is happening, believing that God is shaping me for the best. As I read on the web site of the Church at Brook Hills:
“We align all of our plans with the Word of God.
We are not asking God to bless our plans.
We are aligning with the plans He has already promised to bless.”
God is good. He works for the good in incredible ways, and we will all stand in awe.
How will life shape me? As Jake asked in his message Sunday, is my story defined by faith or fear? Each day, at each turning point, may my story be defined by faith, believing that what I do and who I am has value because I seek to walk with God.