Well, as always, it has been another week of eye opening reading and reflection. I loved it! This Bible study has been such a fantastic addition to my daily routine and has really helped me get myself toward where I want to be spiritually, even though I don't ever want my spirit to stop growing!
Sound of Silence
"Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation." -Psalm 62:1
I have to be honest: Spending quiet time with God is something, a priority, that I need to really learn how to do. Until this Bible study, I thought that my quiet time with God was my prayer time, which I'm always striving to get better at. I need quiet time to be able to have genuine prayer time with God so I won't be bothered by the daily distractions that surround me. But I've been taught this week that it is just as important to have quiet time when I am not praying to God for things, but just resting in His presence. Just like with prayer time, for me, this would have to be a time when the house is quiet, the phone isn't ringing, the tv isn't blaring, and when there is just a calm stillness over my home. The best time for me to do this would be at night, as I am drifting off to sleep. I go to sleep usually after everyone else, so the only thing keeping me company when I head off to bed is the furnace! This would be such a wonderful time for me to lay my head on my pillow, say my bed time prayer, and then ask God to speak to me while I stay silent and relaxed. This is my personal challenge to myself. It is a challenge that will take much practice, I am sure. But it is definitely one I am excited to start...tonight!!!
Well this was a chapter that opened my eyes and squashed my toes! No stepping about it! And you know what? I love it because I need it. Karen discussed five different controlling methods, and I will share (while looking at the floor in shame) which one truly describes me the most. But first, I want to talk about something else that Karen discussed in this chapter that I realized I am so guilty of and that I really need to work on. Before going into the methods of control, Karen discusses our inability to hold our tongue. Beyond that, she addresses in certain social circiles and situations, she does hold her tongue quite well and I am the same. During these situations or in the presence of certain individuals, I remain quiet and don't really convey someone who is opinionated and out-spoken, always "minding my p's and q's" as my mother taught me so many times as a child. However, when I am in the presence of those with whom I am most comfortable, my friends and family, I am quite the opposite. I am pushy, opinionated, and critical, I and am ashamed to say that my family generally receives most of this.
Karen states in this chapter: "I've often wondered why I can hold my tongue and temper my actions with friends, strangers, church folk, and the gals down at the ballpark, but I rifle off my 'You shoulda, coulda, oughta' opinions like a staccato string of hot ammo at those who share my home address. I think I know. They have to love me. They are my family. We're stuck with each other. Others in my life can edge me out if I'm not amiable. So around them, I behave."
Wow. That is the only word I could think of after reading the above words from this awesome woman I am really relating to and admiring. Those words describe me so well, and while it is great to have people in your life that you feel confident will love you no matter what, I was hit with shame and sadness. I started thinking about some of the things I've said the people I love and the ways I've treated them, and realized that sometimes I'm not very loving at all to the people I love the most. Sometimes, I am down right rude to the people who love me no matter what...especially my parents. Though I know I have true love from my husband and daughter, my parents have always been two individuals whose love I have completely taken for granted...obviously as a child, this happens. But at times, it continues to happen as an adult. My father is one of the most gentle and kind people I've ever known, and he may in fact hold the #1 spot on that list. But he has also had to bear the brunt of my inconsiderate behavior throughout the 30 years of my life. And why? Does he know how to push my buttons? Oh yes. Maybe better than anyone. But are any of his actions or words to me tainted with unkindness or hurtfullness? Never. Only love is at the root of what he says and does, not just to me, but to anyone he knows. He is a true disciple of Christ, and deserves much better than he gets from his only daughter. This Christmas, I stopped harping on my father long enough to genuinely enjoy his company. It was wonderful. I joined him to do his Christmas shopping for my mom, we worked together on wooden shelves we are constructing for my husband, it was a wonderful time. And since then, I am finding the desire to be sarcastic or disrespectful isn't there anymore. When my mother tells my dad to do something or criticising something he did for her because he didn't do it her way, I find myself gently coming to his defense and reminding her to be polite and thankful of him. I'm thankful that God, my devine Father, opened my heart and shut my mouth to help me appreciate the man who raised me.
Now to address the actual blog questions, I believe at times I am guilty of outright action and subtly (or not so subtle) mood swings. Though I can't promise these traits will ever completely disappear, I can promise that with God's help, I will continue to practice patience, kindness, and soul control with the people I love and cherish.
This chapter has been such a blessing to read, and actually very comforting because I feel like “Finally! Someone else is so over that perfect “Jones” family!” Obviously, I harbor no negative feelings toward any Jones family, but Karen is so right in that when we compare ourselves to the “greatness” of others, at least as great as these individuals portray themselves to be or their children or their cooking or the eternal tidiness of their homes and lives, we are just setting ourselves up for a tear down. I personally don’t spend much time at all interacting on social media because I have enough time keeping up with my own life let alone the lives of 50,000 others. Nor am I really interested in the fact that Susie just posted that she went to the Quick Stop for a Coke and has now typed a rant on how rude the cashier was.
I compare my life to the lives of others a lot more than I am proud of, and sometimes, it is almost like a habit. If I’m in the grocery store, and my child is in the middle of throwing an award winning tantrum yet the child not 15 feet away is sitting her cart cool, calm, and collected–maybe casting a fearful glance or two in our direction–I immediately tell myself, “Geeze. Look at how wonderful that kid is behaving, and look at mine! Those parents obviously have better disciplining techniques than I do, and probably never have this problem with their kids.” Not exactly self motivating words. It is an instant tear down to my self confidence as a mother, and not a loving way to be thinking of my child either. There are like a million parenting books out there on a million different subjects that can be helpful, but can also make you feel like a horrible parent when you read how children “should” act as opposed to how they actually do. Children don’t fit into a mold. They aren’t robots. God didn’t intend them to be. Nor did he intend us to be model mothers and wives. He intended us to be exactly who we are and who He made us to be. Nowhere in the Bible does it say “Thou shalt must have a three course meal served promptly at six pm every night to well behaved children and an eternally satisfied husband in a spotless house that always smells of laundry sheets and Pledge.” Even though I am guilty of it…as evidenced by scrubbing my kitchen floor at 930p.m. last night…when my focus is on trying to be just like the woman on tv or in a magazine who has everything together every minute of every day, my focus isn’t on God and who He wants me to be…what He wants me to do.
The questions Karen listed in Chapter 10 are awesome, and are going to be wonderful tools in my future that I intend to use so I can get myself back into a Godly perspective. But generally, when I am going through difficult circumstances I do tend to ask God what He is wanting me to learn from this? How is He trying to make me grow? What opportunity is He presenting me with right now? Sometimes I come up with answers right away. Other times, it’s months later, and some of those questions I’m still trying to figure out. The secret to my contentment is peace. I just want to have peace to live like God wants me to, not how society expects me to. True contentment is waking up every morning and saying “God, thank you for making me the child you want me to be” and then just embracing and being proud of who I am. As a child and adolescent, I constantly compared myself to the popular girls…how skinny they were, the things they said and didn’t say, did and wouldn’t be caught dead doing, etc. and I tried to be exactly like them instead of who I really was. Luckily, I put zero importance on being popular in adulthood and try to only spend time with people who love and appreciate who I am, quirkiness and all. I learned the sooner I start embracing my differences and special qualities instead of running away from them, the sooner I can start actually living. God Bless!