Life has been insane these past few months. I am still a full-time student, working 2-3 part-time jobs, juggling house cleaning, cooking, and homework, all the while trying to stay in touch with my family, maintain a healthy social life, volunteer in the community, be a good wife to a husband who works 14-hour days, prepping to start my own in-home business, and trying to plan for the future as well as thrive in my present – all the while living in a tiny, 2nd-story apartment in the city with only 1 car shared between the two of us.
While folks encourage me that I am growing and maturing, I still struggle to see it as situations and struggles seem to pop up everywhere. Here at BSSM, we are bombarded with teachings, incredible worship, ministry opportunities, volunteer work, tight-knit community and lots of homework. I struggle with feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. It is difficult to narrow down the past 5 months of intense teachings and information, but I would have to say that the biggest areas I have grown in would be 1) trusting God’s character despite my current situations, 2) understanding the simplicity of Christianity, and 3) taking life head on as a powerful person!
How I can trust God’s character despite my circumstances
Growing up, I was always the quietest kid in the room; laid back, shy, and afraid of attention. I just took things as they came, whether I really wanted it or not because I believed I “didn’t have a choice.” My outlook on life was that of “just go with the flow.” It seemed noble and very “Christian” to respond that way to people and circumstances, but in hindsight, I see that I struggled with having a victim mentality. Danny Silk, in his incredible book Keep Your Love On, describes someone with the victim mentality as a powerless person. They use phrases like, “I can’t, it’s too hard.” “I have to do this…I don’t have any choice.” Or “Well, I’ll try…but I can’t promise anything.” They feel weak, and powerless to take responsibility for their actions, and blame others for their mistakes, saying “they had no choice” or “they couldn’t help it.” Their motivation is anxiety, and they believe everyone and everything else is more powerful than they are. They believe they are the victim and everyone else is out to get them and ruin their lives.
Because school is so intense both mentally and spiritually, a lot of things begin to come up inside of you, you begin to question everything you believe, and you become very introspective. If you would have asked me last year if I saw myself as a powerless person, or if I was believing any lies from the enemy, I would have laughed and said, “No.” But these past 5 months have really brought a lot of emotions and lies to the surface, forcing me to face them head on and to deal with my “issues.” A few of the lies I have recently identified within myself is my erroneous belief that: I am not enough, I’m not important, what I have to say doesn’t matter, and that I am not strong enough to make a difference or change my circumstances. I’m powerless and am a victim to other people’s agendas and situations; “I don’t have a choice.” Lies, lies, lies! After reading Keep Your Love On again, I feel better equipped to uproot those lies and get them out of my life.
I am learning to be a powerful person…someone who bravely makes decisions, who has confidence in the choices I do make, knows I am powerful to influence or change my circumstances, and who faces problems head on instead of cowering in the corner, allowing someone else to make the decision for me, then getting angry when the decision they make isn’t what I would have done and then feeling like a victim of them and the situation they just created for me. I’m learning to take control, be responsible for myself, and stand up for me when need be.
Isn’t it funny, how, when you realize a truth and get breakthrough in it, how many obstacles suddenly present themselves, providing you ample opportunity to put your new-found revelation into practice? …Or you could just back down and start believing your powerless lies again…whichever you choose. It all comes down to choice. We all have the power to make decisions and choose – good or bad. God gave us free will when He presented Adam and Eve with the tree in the Garden of Eden.
These past few weeks have been riddled with unexpected problems… For one, we moved here with the understanding that Brian’s new boss would quickly transfer him to work in our hometown of Redding, CA so that Brian would not have to keep driving 2-4 hours a day to Chico for work. That is a lot of gas money, thousands and thousands of unnecessary miles on our little car, and that also means we cannot share the car during the week so I have to ask for rides or walk across town everyday. After months of waiting (about 4 months) and careful prodding, his boss finally told Brian he has no intention of relocating him near home after all. Cue the 4:30-5 a.m. mornings and 14-hour work days. Upon hearing this news, I was, devastated and angry. Brian had taken the stupid job on the condition of being moved to Redding. Now his boss was backing out of deal. I went to bed, angry and frustrated. The first thought in my mind was, “Well, I should have expected this – these things always happen to us. I guess we have no choice… early mornings and long days, what else is new. Things will never change. God, I trusted you to work out this job, what’s the deal?” All of a sudden, I identified those thoughts as lies, and chose to correct those thoughts immediately. “Yes, the situation is unfortunate, and things did not go as we had hoped, but I am a powerful person, I am not a victim of these circumstances or of Brian’s boss’s decisions. God did not “make this happen.” I am strong, resourceful, and I chose to act powerfully and create a solution!” Instead of rolling over, hiding my head under my pillow and feeling sorry for myself, I chose to look into other job opportunities in Redding and Brian now has a consultation with a construction company this evening in Redding!
Many other instances have come up, but I’m learning to ask God, “Why,” instead of feel like a victim. I was studying Job recently and was struck by the fact that Job did not adopt a victim mindset with God. He was upset and hurt as his life fell apart before his eyes, sure, but he never resented God out of bitterness or victim-mindedness. I began reflecting on my own life, and while I have never endured anything as severe as Job, I realized that even though many things that happened never made sense to me, God always had a purpose. Chris Cruz, young adult pastor, speak and blogger at Bethel Church in Redding, CA once stated, “Don’t let your disappointment be your banner.” Maybe Brian’s job in Chico isn’t a curse, but was instead orchestrated by God for a purpose higher than my tiny human brain cannot yet comprehend. I know God is for me, not against me. I know He has my best in mind. I know all things work together for my good. As I reflect on the events of my life, both good and bad, I can clearly see that God has never “ruined my life” without anything good ever coming from it. Even if no crazy miracle takes place, at least a testimony is born from it – and testimonies carry power and the anointing for breakthrough. Bill Johnson, Sr. Pastor of Bethel Church says that a testimony means, “Do it again. When a testimony is released, it brings the grace for a same miracle to happen again. A testimony should duplicate because it’s a prophecy.”
Chris Gore, director of the Bethel Healing Rooms says, “[The] absence of a miracle is not the definition of who God is.” Isn’t that profound?
Kris Vallotton, Sr. Associate Leader of Bethel Church believes that “God always speaks in a way that draws us deeper in relationship [with Him]…it makes you have to know Him to understand.”
Many things of God are simply over my head (no pun intended) and I likely won’t understand the “hows and whys” this side of heaven, but I am learning to be ok with that. I do not have know why Brian’s boss refused to transfer him, but I am trusting in God’s sovereign nature, knowing He has our best in mind whether that is continuing to work in Chico, or if Brian will get a job offer here in Redding. I refuse to get angry and become a victim. I will ask God why, and He’s totally ok with that. (If you think about it, most of the Psalms are comprised of desperate folks asking why.) Whether He chooses to answer is up to Him, but as for me, I will accept what I cannot change, trusting in God’s just nature and infinite wisdom, but all the while continuing to be a powerful person by choosing to take it all in stride and pursue other avenues of income.
“You can’t always help what happens to you, but you can help how you react.” – Kris Vallotton
Understanding the simplicity in Christianity
I have always known God is sovereign, full of grace and love, but likely because I struggled with a victim mentality most of my life, I felt that He was all of those things – for everyone else. It somehow felt that He was overwhelmed with compassion for everyone, the drug dealers, my insane neighbors, etc. but when it came to me, He would just shake His head and say, “C’mon kid, how many times do we have to go over this for you to get it? What’s your deal?” I realized that my self-talk leaves a lot to be desired. I am so rude to me! In Keep Your Love On, Danny Silk discusses self-talk and the dangers of bad-mouthing yourself. He poses the question: Would we talk to our friends the way we talk to ourselves? If it is not ok for us to talk to other people that way, why is it ok for us to verbally abuse ourselves? He makes an incredible point. And we wonder why we suffer from depression and poor self-esteem!
I have a good amount of patience for other people, but I am so incredibly hard on myself. The instant I do something dumb, come up short, or fail in any way, I am on myself all day for my mistake. I am learning to cut myself some slack and in doing so, I’m realizing that God does not think the same way about me that I do about myself. He is so gentle, lenient, and kind, abounding in grace (2 Cor. 9:8). Why am I so hard on myself if He isn’t?
I always feel like I have to do, do, do in order to be a good Christian, but He doesn’t ask us to be striving, serving, laboring crazy people – He calls us to be first and foremost, sons and daughters: lovers of the king who have a personal relationship with Him. Our works will not get us to heaven, but our salvation and our devotion to Him will. Mike Bickle, founder of IHOP in Kansas City, says, “God can do more with a lover than a worker.” God’s love language is more of quality time than of acts of service. Isn’t that freeing? No striving, no pressure. God prefers that we just be instead of do. There is a reason we are called human beings not human doings.
I am learning to serve God in all I do and be more understanding of myself. Because of my hectic schedule and crazy life, I beat myself up all the time for not having the time or the means to go feed the homeless or volunteer all over town. I also get on my case about not having the time to get in my prayer closet and pray everyday, uninterrupted for several hours. But like I told my beautiful mother-in-law the other day, God understands my hectic schedule. He doesn’t need my religious works; He just wants to spend time with me. I can serve and honor God by worshipping Him, honoring other people, cooking for my family and friends, or simply working at my job. Do you remember the story of Mary and Martha? Jesus chided Martha because she was too busy and distracted doing for Him instead just being with Him. Everything done unto Him is service and worship – even just sitting at His feet not doing anything. No striving, just relationship, and including Him in all you do. It almost seems too simple, huh?
Karl Richardson, teacher and overseer of Bethel School of Ministry laughed, “Do everything from the perspective of rest… Hit the ground resting! Everything is to be done in relationship… [and] done in joy.”
I turn on worship music and singing praises to Him while I cook dinner for my hard-working, incredible husband, I go for walks and thank Him for the beauty around me and for the blessings He’s given me, I swim in the pool and reminisce about the miracles He’s blessed me to be a part of, and I hang out with my friends and enjoy their company as we bless each other as iron sharpens iron (Prov. 27:17). It almost brings me to tears just realizing the simplicity of everyday Christianity. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply….” Jesus did not say, above all, work as hard as you can to please me while on Earth. No, He simply said to love. Just love. As long as you are representing Him and His love, you are doing just fine! Relax, take a deep breath, and stop doing and striving. He has called you to peace and love, not works. What use will you be to Him or anyone around you if you are going insane or are too tired to love fully and be yourself?
“Faith is the result of surrender, not striving.” – Bill Johnson