Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Loving Someone Enough to Say Something - Oh, How I Am Loved!!!

If you have read my Facebook posts and my past blog posts, you know that I am one to talk and write a lot on one topic at a time.  It is true.  I am a deep thinker.  I am a long and loud talker.  Someone like me is not a great listener.  I am not one to ask for advice.  I am not one to ask for help.

I give advice.  I give help.  I like to come up with solutions to others' problems.

But to listen to someone else tell me about my own problems... all of a sudden "Yo no hablo Inglés."

Actually, my evil twin comes out and screams in my mind "Who do you think you are?!"... but as a wise teacher once told me that the evil twin is who I really am.  That prideful, stubborn person who bucks up to correction is who I really am in my sinful heart.  The nice, humble person is the persona I easily carry around for others to see when life is easy.

And after my post last week about living in a glass house, perhaps people got the idea that I think everyone should keep their thoughts to themselves on most issues, if not all.  Well, that would be hypocritical of me, of course, since I enjoy talking about a lot of issues - hence my blog!

I have been really thinking back this week over some times in my life where people took me aside and told me truth on how I was living my life... TRUTH - not their preference... and they were right.  I knew they were right.  And no matter how soft their tone or loving their intention, the words slapped me to my core.

Soon after college, I found out that things I had worked so hard for weren't as satisfying as I had wanted them to be.  I had been hired to be a teacher, but nothing had prepared me for the dread of returning to work every day.  The job was too hard, and since it was all I had ever planned on doing, I felt suicidal.  I also had just bought a home, which at first was exciting, but then I realized how trapped I was to the commitment of owning a home.  I couldn't just pack up and change cities now like I had before; now I had a job and a home, both with a contract.  I also didn't feel very close to the Lord at this time.  I had grown so much during college, but felt so stagnant with the mundane of going to work and taking care of a home on a daily basis.  I was unhappy, but I wasn't taking my thoughts to the Lord.  I was still attending church, but my spiritual life was practically non-existent.  My roommate at that time, and best friend, left some reading material on the topics of depression and finding joy in the Lord by my bed.  I was furious with her!  I was so furious, that one day while she was at work, I moved everything she owned out onto the lawn.  I didn't want to live with a saint, and I was in complete denial about how bad I was doing.  But for some reason, after I had prepared to throw her out of my house, I read the articles anyway.  I was broken, crushed, but encouraged.  I prayed to the Lord to give me joy in my heart.  I asked for forgiveness for thinking that work and worldy possessions were going to complete me in the first place.  And I moved everything back into my roommate's bedroom right where she had it before.  I told her what had happened when she got home, and she prayed for me.  She forgave me.  She kept encouraging me and asking me the hard questions for months after that.  She helped me look to the only source of light we have in this dark world.  We ended up being rommates for 5 years, and she taught me so much just by asking me the hard questions with kindness covering every word.

About a year later, I found out that one of my good college guy friends had almost died.  I hadn't seen him in a while, because his best friend was an ex-boyfriend.  When I started to think back on all the fun times the 3 of us had had, I got sentimental and wanted that time back in life.  I had just gotten out of another serious relationship, and in a moment, of what I thought was perfect clarity, I called my previous ex-boyfriend so we could go visit our friend who had been injured.  Before we went, I just knew that this was going to be "it".  That this was the right decision.  We were going to get back together, and our friend was going to live, and we would all be happy forever.  But even though the visit went well, I felt confused when I was instantly reminded of the reasons we had broken up in the first place.  I later went to his apartment and started telling him how confused I was, bawling tears down my face the whole time.  I walked out of that apartment a different woman, because in his God-given wisdom and guts to tell me what I didn't want to hear, he said, "Have you ever thought of making decisions based on truth instead of your feelings?"  He wasn't being rude or sarcastic.  He was gentle and honest.  But I still felt like the biggest idiot!  It had NEVER occurred to me before to make decisions based on God's Word instead of my feelings.  He reminded me that day that my heart is deceitful.  And the proof was in that situation - I break up with someone and find out a friend almost died, obvious emotions to follow would be to feel sad, lonely, and scared about how short life is.  So I immediately run to an ex-boyfriend, thinking we should get married and have babies right away, because time is wasting.  Then I feel like that was the wrong move, and I realize I don't want to marry him.  How could I trust my heart after it had reared its ugly head like that?! And the irony - he was the one who diagnosed me right then and there... I allowed my emotions to rule my life, not the Lord.  We never spoke again, and we were both okay with that.  But I will always be thankful for that simple piece of guidance that must have been so hard for him to give me.

A couple of weeks later, I had lunch with a woman from church.  I filled her in on all my recent boy troubles.  I told her about how I always thought I would be married with kids by then, and how my life just wasn't going the way I thought it should.  All I wanted to be was a wife and a mom, and instead I had earned a teaching degree and the "eternal bridesmaid" award.  I felt lonely and disappointed.  And she lovingly asked me a question that stopped me dead in my tracks:  "Keisha, why would you want to get married, unless you had met someone that made you want to get married?"  It had never dawned on me that I shouldn't want to get married unless I had met someone that caused me to consider marriage.  What a brilliant concept, but I had had it backwards my entire life!  I wanted a dream, a fairy tale.  I wanted something God hadn't given me, and I chased after it like so many before me have chased idols in their hearts.  And I asked myself, 'Do I know anyone that I want to marry because they are worth marrying?'  At that time, the answer was a resounding NO, so I put the dream down, realizing that I shouldn't pick it back up again until God handed it to me in the form of a real life person, not an idea, but a person.  She probably never knew how much of an impact that one question had on me, but it changed me.  I realized that yearning for something God hasn't given me, and may never give me, was a slap to God in the face.  Hadn't He done so much already?!  Yes, He had, and the next few years of being single were some of the most content, fulfilling years I had ever had before then!  There were still times I would feel lonely and like God was holding out on me, but I would remember what my wise friend had said.  I am grateful to say that I didn't chase that dream anymore.  And then one day, God handed me a reality in the form of a man.  This man proved himself over and over, without knowing it, that he was worth marrying.  So, because he caused me to want to get married, I married him :)  It wasn't a dream I kept trying to fit men into... it was a man that my dream fit into.  But not a fairytale dream.  A dream worth having because it was real, and it was God's man in God's timing.

Kyle and I started dating when I was 24, almost 25.  And when you start dating someone, it is amazing how your legs always get shaved, eyebrows get plucked more often, your hair and makeup look great all the time... but over time the real you comes through.  I have a very dominating personality at times.  I am sarcastic, and sometimes I go for a joke when I shouldn't.  My mouth gets me in trouble often, thankfully less often as I mature and grow spiritually... but it is still a daily struggle.  Very early in our relationship, I realized how manly Kyle was because he called me out on my sin of the tongue.  I had spoken sarcastically  to a friend, not meaning to come across as rudely as I did, and it was in front of a lot of people.  Kyle waited until we were alone later and said that what I had said about my friend was mean-spirited.  He said I had embarrassed her for the sake of getting a laugh.  He admitted he was familiar with this fault because he struggles with it too, but he was telling me that I needed to apologize and strive to be kind with my words.  He wasn't bossy or judgmental - he was honest, but gentle with the words he chose.  I was immediately embarrassed myself, because it was so early for him to already be seeing and calling out my flaws.  But he did it so lovingly, and I knew it was true, there was no fight in me against it.  I knew he was right, and I loved him for it.  I had always wondered what it would be like to be led spiritually by a man... and I learned that night that it felt like it should.  It brought Kyle and I closer to each other, but more importantly it brought me closer to the Lord.

And I wonder where I would be... who would I be if these people hadn't told me the sin they saw in my life?  God is in control, and He loves me too much to leave me the way I am in my natural, sinful state, so perhaps I would be who I am right now even if these people had silently turned a blind eye or ear to what my heart was indulging in.  He could have chosen different ways for me to learn these hard lessons.  He could have chosen other people.  He could have written it on a cloud or sent an angel to me on a sidewalk. But how much longer would the change have taken?  God gets His way, but He wanted the obedience of these people to lovingly confront me in my sin.  And they did.  I don't know how hard it was for them to confront me, but I knew how much they loved me and the Lord after they obeyed.

So while I did argue we should not judge others based upon our own opinions and preferences, I am also saying that God does say to make right judgments.  He does tell us to bear each other's burdens, to love each other enough to speak to each other's sin in love.  Because we love Him.  Because He loves us.  Because we love each other... enough to say something.  I am only 30 years old, and there will always be some sin I am struggling against during this life, and I dread how many more times someone I admire or look up to is going to sit me down to confront me.  I don't look forward to it, but I know it is bound to happen.  I pray I will be open to the Lord's correction.  I pray my heart will be made to look more like Christ's each time.  And I pray the same for those who will confront me, because it is an act of obedience from an overflow of love from the heart.

He is worth it.

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