A few months ago, Nehemiah went through this phase where he did not like to sit still in his carseat… at all. It seemed as though he felt like carseat = movement/driving/etc and if he was not doing any of those things he should not have been in it. One evening as we were riding home we came to a stop light and he began to get upset. I started to speak to him about being patient. As I was talking, I realized that there was a message in those words for me. I told him how sometimes God places red lights and stop signs in certain places to protect us, comfort us, save us, etc. Those pauses in life may come at the most inopportune times from our point of view, but they are essential. It is during those times that we grow and learn. We have the opportunity to take a look back at where we have been and to focus on where we are headed.
I am starting to learn to appreciate those brief pauses in the road. I am learning to see those red lights and stop signs as blessings instead of obstacles that I must hop over immediately. I am beginning to view them as God’s way of saying “hold on one second… its almost ready for you”, or “you are almost ready” or even “watch out!” I am thankful that Nehemiah has learned to be patient at those stop signs and red lights. My prayer is that I would be able to apply the same principles to my everyday life.
There have been so many times where I have just felt stuck. Stuck in my relationship with God, Stuck in my career, stuck in my marriage, stuck in my friendships… just stuck! I have always felt the need to make sure that I am progressing. I get joy out of that in the most simple ways, like checking off an item on my to do list.
Over the years, I have come to learn that being busy does not mean that you are truly moving forward. At times I am so “busy” that I am literally running in circles, no forward movement to be seen. I have felt like this particularly lately when it comes to my career. I frequently feel as though no progress is being made and I am simply wading in the water. Before going out on leave I would create a daily to do list and see how many items I could check off by the time 4pm rolled around. I used that list, with the neatly placed checked marks, as a measure of my success and progress for the day. By 4:05pm that feeling of progress waned and the feeling of being stuck returned.
My desire to progress or to be successful is often a distraction. I can easily get so wrapped up in where I feel like I should be career wise and in other aspects of life that I quiet God’s voice within me. Perhaps I am feeling stuck because I am hard-headed, or maybe it’s fear. Maybe I am chasing the wrong things with the wrong motivation or even listening and taking advice from the wrong people.
When these feelings arise I know that I need to take a step back. I have to quiet everything around me and focus on His face. I have to (in the words of one my favorite celebrity families) get out of my own feelings and remember why I am here. I have to remember that it is not about me, it is all about Jesus and how I can be a blessing to His Kingdom. When I am feeling stuck or stagnant, I know it is time for a perspective shift.
My thoughts have been all over the place! I have moments where I am on cloud nine thinking happy thoughts and then I have moments where I am totally a negative nancy. (I know that my hormones are probably off a little bit due to the pregnancy but still!) I realized through a study that we are doing now with our church that I allow a lot of things, words, and people take residence in my mind that should not. I have been allowing the words of others to negatively impact me and I am done with that.
So here’s what I am going to do:
– Take more time to discern who is for me and who is not.
– Take more time to discern whether or not the words spoken over me or to me are truth or trash ( a concept from the Soul Detox study we are doing). Truth are those things that I will keep and trash… well you know!
– I will use the Word to focus my thoughts. (Phillipians 4:8 is my go to scripture right now)
– I will continue praying for peace and direction.
How about you? Do you struggle with your thoughts? What do you do to combat the negative ones and stay on track?
Aside from having iron friendships, having wise advisors is also important. One thing I have learned over the course of our marriage is that it is essential to have others pour into your life and your marriage. Of course you do not just want anyone to pour into you because you want the good stuff, you want the Godly stuff.
As I was reading during my quiet time today, I came across the story of Amnon and Tamar in 2 Samuel 13. Although I have read this scripture before, very recently, something told me to read it again and once again I saw something different this time. This scripture is the Biblical account of how Amnon tricked and basically raped his brother’s sister, Tamar. What was interesting to me as I read it this time is that Amnon actually sought counsel in regards to his feelings towards Tamar and what he should do about them. He told his adviser that he loved his brother’s sister and his adviser told him to do the following,
“Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’”
Because Amnon trusted his adviser he did exactly as he was told and made one of the biggest mistakes of his life. I sat and thought about all of the bad advice that I have received over the years that led to bad decisions on my part. How many people had I trusted in to give me wise counsel that was not rooted in the word of God? How many people have I given advice to that was not rooted in the word of God? Many times the people that I have listened to had the best intentions for me, but they were speaking from a worldly mindset and not a Godly mindset. Samuel Johnson, an English author, once wrote, that “Hell is paved with good intentions.” I encourage you to consider those who you seek counsel from. Is it Godly counsel or is it just laced with good intentions? Pray for God to reveal to you those who can provide you with wise counsel and truly pour into your life. We were not designed to go through life alone and while we may often think we have it all together, that is definitely not always the case.
Dave Ramsey, a Christian financial expert, often says that you should never take financial advice from a broke man. Matthew 15:14 reads,
“If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
Consider those words before you seek advice about anything, particularly your marriage.