Finding Truth in Old Journals

I’ve been spending the past few months cleaning out my old room. I like to think I keep things simple an organized, but the truth is, I’m a pack rat who keeps just about everything.

Just before moving last year, I purged all my magazines. I had several that were more than 20 years old, and hundreds that I had from 5 to 15 years.

Anyway, magazines shouldn’t be a problem because I no longer buy them. The journals, on the other hand, are another story. I have at least 50, and many are either unused or half full. I recently found one from 2012 with ‘Brilliant Ideas’ on the cover. (I bought it specifically for that label)

I looked through it, and found something I wrote to myself, 4 years ago, about faith. After going through a difficult winter semester that included illness, anxiety, and stress, my faith was waning.
It’s one thing to know that God is at work in my life. It’s another to believe He is. I allowed my external circumstances to determine my spiritual condition, and I didn’t know what to do to change it.

I didn’t know that part of answer was in the journal. My past self, reaching out to my current self and telling her to stay the course.
The entry reads:

Last week, I decided that I am definitely not the type of person who wants just enough faith for the journey. I also want enough strength to take down anything that dares to get between me and my future. I don’t want to coast through a mediocre life. I want to live well. I want to fight passionately for the principles in which I believe. I want to fail miserably, and still keep trying. I want to be honest, vulnerable, and most of all, authentic.
I want to experience everything life has to offer me–even the difficulty –because going through trials is what teaches me the most.
I wasn’t born to be just average. I was born to be great. From today forward, I will work to achieve greatness in everything I do. I cannot be defeated, and I will not quit.


I don’t remember what was going on in my life when I wrote this, but I’m thankful I did because it was the kick in the butt I needed to move forward. There will be times in our lives when we feel uncertain, or alone, no matter how many people are there to offer us support.
I had to remind myself that these feelings aren’t new, and they will pass.

All it took was prayer and an old journal.

Regards,

Erin

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I Didn’t Know What To Call This, But I’m Back

This is usually the part where the blog writer explains his or her long absence with a list of reasons why they haven’t blogged since August of last year. However, my reasons for not blogging were kind of boring (Depression, school work, blah, blah, blah) What I’ll do instead is just move right along to the next topic.

In the past seven months, I have noticed a change in how I approach reading and writing. I’m a lifelong bookworm, and in 2012, I successfully completed 100 books. Since then, I’ve completed one year of university, and now, when I read anything, my inner editor automatically picks up the punctuation errors.

A few days ago, I was reading a response to a question on the Ask FM app (in which the people submit anonymous questions). My first thought was, “Dang, girl, ease up on the commas! No one takes that many pauses when they speak.” Then, I remembered that I was not reading an essay, so the person could put the commas wherever she wanted to, and her mark would still be the same. (Zero, because she’s answering questions about her life, not being graded for her writing.)

I also moved, and found out that I spent most of my time working acquiring stuff that depreciates in value. You know what’s mildly depressing? Having to fill out a form for renter’s insurance and realizing that you don’t have anything that would qualify as an “asset.” What I do have is a bunch of stuff that is valuable to me, and perhaps, my niece. (My makeup collection is enormous, and she loves it.)

A few weeks from now, I have to do a presentation about the “Desert Saints.” They were a group of Christians from the 4th century, who believed that struggle and self-sacrifice were an integral part of one’s spiritual development.

I have to say, that it’s something that I connected with right away. If I’m too comfortable, complacency sets in, so for me, some discomfort is necessary to keep me on track. Since I’m an introverted person, it’s easy to find things that make me uncomfortable.

I’ll be the first to tell you that my life as a Christian has been full of adversity. There are years of my life that I wonder how I got through them without completely losing my mind. I love being comfortable. In fact, I prefer comfort, but there’s something about going through a good battle and coming out alive that energizes me and reaffirms my faith in the God who got me through it all.

I always hate going through the tough times, but with each level I pass successfully, I learn something new. Life isn’t just about pursuing happiness, getting what you want, and making sure your people are well. It is about passing along what you’ve learned to others.

One interesting thing about Antony, one of the desert saints I read about, is that, while he lived in isolation for much of his life, he didn’t keep the blessings from God to himself.

He taught people and prayed with them, miraculous things happened, as a result. He wasn’t just eccentric for eccentricity’s sake. He used his years of struggle and sacrifice to allow God to work through him to help others.

I was initially attracted by the “away from people” aspect of his spiritual life, but I also know that I can never completely disengage because there is always someone who needs encouragement or support. A life in ministry is not one I would have chosen for myself, but now that I know “what”, I have to keep the “why” in perspective.

The first act of my life was all about me. My job; my feelings; my wants and needs, but the second act is all about what I can do to serve God best.
So far, I’ve got being kind and respectful to people with different belief systems, and being less hostile to fellow saints whom I believe are too exclusive and cliquey.
(It turns out, I’m much better at the former than I am at the latter. Oops)

Before I started school, a friend told me that the person I’ll be once I leave school will be different from the person who started. I didn’t know what she meant, at the time, but I’m already noticing a difference. Whatever happens along the way, whether it be a struggle or a peaceful journey, I pray that my experience will help someone else.

What To Do When The Sign You’ve Been Praying For is a Punch in the Face

I am not one of those “spooky” people. I am more apt to base my feelings and opinions on the reality of a situation, rather than a “sign”. That said, in the month since I resigned from my job, I have doubts, and the overwhelming feeling that I made the wrong decision.

I did what I normally do; pretend that everything is fine. Finally, at my wit’s end, I prayed for a sign–any sign–that my choice was the right one. It was all well at first. It seemed as though everything was going my way.

Then the bottom dropped out, and things started to go wrong. Part of the problem was my complacency. I am not one to panic, so I didn’t move with any urgency until the eleventh hour. After that, all signs pointed in one glaring direction: I was wrong.

In asking for a sign, I thought that I would see something that was overwhelmingly positive. I asked for a sign to encourage me to move forward. Instead, every sign is telling me to give up. I was looking for something spectacular. I found something simple instead.

When I had my first setback, I felt like giving up. Then it occurred to me; I want this to work,  but not for my sake. I want it to work because people who feel misunderstood need someone to talk and listen to them. Someone like me.

I remembered that this is not a choice; it is a calling. If I decide to ignore it, I would not be restless until I changed my mind. I was looking for encouragement, but what I needed to do was get the passion back.

One of my favourite books in the Bible is the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a prophet, who was both disrespected because of his youth, and despised because of his role as an oracle of the God. In chapter 20, after speaking another corrective message to the people of Israel, he writes, “Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.” (Emphasis mine)

If I pay attention to how things look right now, I won’t move forward. But, in my experience, I always face the worst opposition when I am doing the right thing. (When I’m not, I’m pretty much ignored.) I don’t like anxiety, but in my case it helped me get perspective. If going to university was not the best decision, I wouldn’t care so much about the outcome.

My big “sign” was not a loud chorus, singing ‘Hallelujah’. It was not a talking fiery bush, or the stunning, come-from-behind victory.

It was a still, small voice, that said, “Keep moving ahead.”

Many times, when all signs point to, “no”, it means no, but sometimes all of the negatives are a “gut-check” to see how devoted one is to the completion of a task. Part of growing up is discerning which is which.

Ignoring obstacles does not end them. In order to solve them, I had to acknowledge them, and then do everything in my power to get over them.

It’s time for me to pick up my mantle and run with it.

Peace,

Erie

Defeatism is So Middle-Class:2013 in Review

I hear that, Countess Violet.

The year 2013 was an important one for me. In 2013, I had to (grudgingly) admit I did not have all the answers. I had to face the fact that the world was not my personal oyster, and it did not revolve around me. I had to acknowledge that my agenda was secondary, and I had to watch as my circumstances breached my comfort zone, and then obliterated it.

I will attend my first class in 5 days. The obliterating of my comfort zone started when I left a job that I had since I was 18. I was good at my job. I was comfortable there because I knew what I had to do every day.

That is why I had to leave it behind.

When I was 26, I a pastor told me that, in order to fulfill the plans God had for my life, I would have to leave my parents, and rely solely on God for my provision. I put it off for 6 years. As always, the more I put things off, the more I saw signs pointing me away from my childhood home, and into my future.

2013 is the year I did something about it. I applied for university for the first time in nearly 15 years. I was sure I would be accepted, (NOT, but I talked myself into believing it until it came true.), and I slowly made preparations for my moving on from retail.

The field I will eventually go into is not one I would have chosen for myself. I am an introvert, so by nature I avoid attention. (I always choose a seat near the back, by the aisle, so no one notices me.) However, two aspects of my calling have been a perfect fit from the start: I love to teach, and I love to encourage people who feel afraid, and insecure.

My mother says that, a person knows when something is a calling when she can do it without any recognition. When I graduate, I will have a title, but as a Christian, the most significant identifier for me will always be as a “follower of Christ”. I am in no way qualified for what I am going to do.

I’m not a “good Christian”. I do not always remember which bible verses are where, and there are still many parts of the Bible that I have not read. That said, I know this is the right thing to do. I know this because I have no anxiety about it in spite of the fact that I am in unfamiliar territory.

Last year, I went through what most people describe as setbacks, some as recent as last week. It might sound cliche, but setbacks are sometimes set-ups in disguise. I can attest to this. I do not know what this year will bring me, but I am looking forward to finding out.

In the past 12 months, I went from a retail worker to a university student. I went from steady pay, to student loans, and bursaries, and I went from certainty and complacency, to uncertainty, and faith.

I would not want it any other way.

I wish you all the best in 2014!

Peace,

Erie

 

 

Sharing Saturday: Cleaning House (Part 2)

When I requested this week off from work, I had three goals in mind. The first one was to clear most–if not all– of the clutter from my bedroom. The second was to find someplace else to live, and the third was to spend more time outside. My vacation officially ends on Monday, but I have only completed two of the tasks. The reason: I’m fussy, and I do not like any of the apartments I see. I have always lived in a house, so I will always have a bias against one large building with many people versus one medium-sized house for a few people. (I like my circle small, and apartment living equals many acquaintances)

De-cluttering, on the other hand, has gone well. (If I do say so myself) I am the progeny of two pack-rat parents. I used to make fun of them until I found out that I inherited that gene. I found so much junk in my bedroom that I was completely overwhelmed. I seriously contemplated sending organizer, and interior designer, Peter Walsh an email, asking him to help a sister out.

To the casual observer, my room appeared to be neat. In the past, my way of cleaning was to shove all the stuff I did not want to deal with into a nice box. Needless to say, I found several pretty boxes in my room filled with things like old curling irons, odd socks, receipts, kitchen utensils, and most shocking of all, the Walkman that I purchased in 1997. I also found every card that anyone has ever given me, from 1997 until now. I’m a sentimentalist at heart, so I will most likely take them with me wherever I move. Especially the cards I received from my dearly departed grandfather.

I also found lots and lots of nail polish. As I mentioned before, I collect it as one collects stamps, baseball cards, or vintage ornaments. Yet the number of bottles I had still shocked me. My mother tried to guess how much I had and said, “I bet it is at least 100.” Well…no. I have more than 100. Keep in mind that I have been collecting since high school, which means I have 14 years of purchasing at least 10 bottles per year. (Sometimes more) My sister-in-law was trying to talk me into leaving part of my collection behind. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

In a week, I learned what most neat-freaks have known from the start. It is much easier to keep track of one’s belongings when there are less of them. Clutter is a distraction. Now that my bedroom is mostly clutter-free, I can see where everything is. Most importantly, I can see when things are out of place. My mother told me that, if I spent the week cleaning out my room, (versus lounging around the house) it would help bring clarity to the rest of my life.

As usual, she was right. Getting rid of the non-essential things in my room helped me to focus. It was almost as though the physical act of getting rid of clutter was the catalyst for me getting rid of my mental clutter. I took a self-inventory of my life and priorities and changed my approach. I found out that living is not just about acquiring pretty things that look nice on shelves. Life is about the people I interact with, and whether I choose to be a positive force for change in the world, or a negative one.

I found out that each person is important, regardless of whom they are, and what they have done. It is not up to each person to rank people based on shallow and often changeable criteria. (Yet we do it all the time.) Everyone, from the President of the United States, to the criminal on death row, is worth something, simply because their birth. What a person chooses to contribute is down to them and their circumstances. At the end, everyone has a choice.

I choose to be a force for good. That does not mean that I will always do or say the right thing. I will miss the mark often. However, my mistakes help me learn what not to do in the future. I will use what I have learned to help someone else. I choose to live a life with standards, not of perfection, but excellence. I will use what (little) I know to help teach others.

I identify as Christian, but I am aware of the fact that my faith does not make me any better or any worse than anyone else. If anything, my public declaration of faith in God, is the epitome of acknowledging my weakness. At the end of my life, I want to be safe in the knowledge that I gave more to society than I took away from it. I want to secure the family legacy of philanthropy, and social activism that I am so proud to have inherited. Most of all, I want to fulfill my assignment.

American Pastor, Creflo Dollar once said in a sermon, “Whatever makes you the most angry in life, you are tasked with changing”

Finding what that is can take a lifetime, but it will be worth the search.

But first, get rid of the clutter.

Peace,

Erie

Sharing Sunday: A Letter Of Encouragement

We have all been there. Everything that could be going wrong in your life has decided to go wrong all at once. You ask your friends for help, but all they can offer you are tired cliches, (sidenote: if you hear, “Things will get better” from one more person, you will possibly punch that person in the face) When (if?) you sit down to pray, all you can offer are complaints and questions like, “Why me, Lord?”
(The answer to that question: “why not you?”)
Sometimes all you need is someone to listen to you, but all the people around you seem to do is give you more advice.

(None of which you asked for)

You have reached the end of your rope, and you don’t know what to do.

Here’s the thing: you have felt this way before. Each time, you thought you would not be able to get through it, and yet you did. Each time, you thought, “this will be the end of me”, but it wasn’t.

You will not be defeated because you have the will to survive, in spite of everything that has happened. No matter what you are battling, as long as you have something to fight for, (even if it is just to prove to yourself that you can fight) you have hope to continue. No matter how alone you feel, there are people who care enough about you to give you unsolicited advice, listen to you complain, and allow you to cry on their shoulders.

There are also people who have gone through this before. They know how you’re feeling, and they are here to help. Your trouble is temporary. Eventually, it will pass, and you will be content someday. Don’t give into those negative voices who are telling you lies. You know the truth. You know who you are and what you are capable of. The people around you know as well, even if they aren’t always willing to acknowledge it.

Remember that you are valuable. You aren’t meant to be used and tossed aside. You, are much better than you think you are, so stop selling yourself short. Be yourself. (Unless you suck. In that case, try to be someone who is kinder than you.) Surround yourself with people who love and appreciate you. If you have the education and the means, don’t settle for what is comfortable. If you don’t have the education and the means, don’t settle for what is comfortable.

Not every endeavor in life has to be about money. The amount of time you have makes a difference, or the amount of patience. Sometimes your success in contingent upon how hard you are willing to work, what your motivation is, and how much you are willing to give up to achieve your goals.

Do not allow what is comfortable to rob you of your purpose. Make working in excellence a habit so you won’t grow accustomed to doing “just enough”.If you have the energy to do your best, do your best. Not for the sake of appearances, but to set a standard of work that you will be proud of. Don’t be motivated by the trappings of outward success, but by an inner drive that will sustain you even when your circumstances aren’t ideal.

Life isn’t about the reward at the end; it’s about the process it takes to get you there. If you try to avoid the difficulties, you won’t reap the benefits of trials.
Most importantly, don’t feel as though you have to go through this alone.

There are people who have been placed in your life specifically to help you through the rough spots.

Don’t shut them out.
Remember that you will get through this. It won’t be easy, but the strength you will have gained from your experience will help carry you for the rest of your life.

Live Well, Everyone.

Erie

Sharing Saturday: I’m A Deborah?

It all started with a Facebook app. One of my friends sent me a request for a “Which Mighty Woman of the Bible Are You?” quiz. Normally, I hate app requests (I block anyone who sends them to me), but for some reason I decided to do this one. After answering all the questions, (and skipping the requisite “Invite all your friends…” spam), my results were posted.

I got Deborah.

Truthfully, I was unimpressed.

I was thinking, ‘I’m beautiful and brave, so I’m Esther!’. Wrong.

‘Diligent and loyal, Ruth’. Nope.

‘Pure and faithful like Mary’. Negative.

Instead, I got Deborah. Some random “Mighty Woman” that I knew nothing about.

I was disappointed until I read Deborah’s story (Starting in Judges 4). I soon found out that there is nothing “random” about Deborah. Not only was she a female ruler in a patriarchal society, she was a judge, and a prophet. She was strong, confident, and wise— but also really tough and decisive. Plus, she was fully dependent on the LORD to make provision for her and the people of Israel. While Miriam was the first mentioned female prophet, Deborah was a prophet, and a judge. She is also one of a handful of people who has a song written for her directly after her story. (The Song of Deborah is Judges 5)

I was ashamed by my ignorance. It might be just a silly Facebook test, but if I’m a “Deborah”, that is an honor worth praising God for. It’s funny how a quiz helped me realize the importance of studying my Bible more. Sure I have a few verses memorized, but there’s still so much I haven’t learned. I pray that I never get to the point where I think, “I’ve arrived! And I have learned everything I need to know!” because honestly, that would be the beginning of a long spiritual and intellectual death.

It takes all kinds of parts to help a body function well. Every bone, organ, and cell in your body has its designated role and all must work together. How fitting that we as Christians are called the body of Christ. We all have different roles, but every single one of us is important to God. Don’t ever feel intimidated by your age, or your stature. If you have been called by God, you’re already accepted. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Deborah. Or a Mary. Or a David. Or a Job (bless his heart). Know that you can be used, by God to show the world His love and grace.

And it all started with an app.

Peace,

Erie

Talking About God Tuesday:Enemies? Pfft!

To many, the Bible is just highly divisive book of fairy-tales used to oppress and keep people subservient. For those of us who know the truth, the Bible is a guidebook for living a good life. Not an easy life, mind you, or a perfect life, but a good life.

I thought that being a Christian meant that I would never have any problems, but  as soon as I got baptized (making my declaration public), the depression began. And then the anxiety. And the pneumonia. I started having nightmares all the time. Then a lot of other issues came up, both with me, and my extended family.

So much for life being better.

In my later years, I actually read the bible–outside of church–and found out that being a Christian attracts more trouble, not less. When Jesus called his disciples, one of the first things he did was give them instructions about what they could expect as they spread his message.

Excerpts of his advice:

Be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Because you are lambs among wolves, and they will eat you if you are not smart.)

“Be on your guard against men.” (Because they will accuse you of things you didn’t do)

“When you are arrested, don’t worry about what to say or how to say it.” (Because you will be given what to say)

“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm in the end will be saved.” (Trust me)

“When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.”(Don’t hang around where you are not welcomed)

“Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Trust me, not people)

The disciples made a lot of enemies. Some followers of Christ were thrown in jail. Some were executed. They were constantly harassed, and one even committed suicide (more on that at a later date). Every disciple had to leave their families and material possessions behind, even the wealthy ones.

That doesn’t exactly sound like a picnic in the park.

There are lots of verses that tell us the cost of following Christ, but thank God that there are more telling us of the benefits.

The Benefits of Following Jesus:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Rest)

“Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Endless possibilities)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; Do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Courage)

“No weapon that has been made to be used against you will succeed. You will have an answer for anyone who accuses you. This is the inheritance of the LORD’s servants. Their victory comes from me,” declares the LORD.” (Protection)

Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” (Victory)

“Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Enlightenment)

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.” (Peace)

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Joy)

 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. “(Hope)

“We love because he first loved us.” (Love)

“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” (Prosperity)

“O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.” (Healing)

“I, the LORD, have spoken! The time has come, and I won’t hold back. I will not change my mind, and I will have no pity on you. You will be judged on the basis of all your wicked actions, says the Sovereign LORD.” (Vengeance)

 “God didn’t give us a cowardly spirit but a spirit of power, love, and good judgment.” (Power)

Being a Christian does not give me the right to believe I am better than anyone else because I’m not. I have the same flaws, struggles, and issues as everyone else. The only difference is that when I feel angry, sad, or depressed I don’t drink myself into a stupor, or yammer on to all of my friends.

I pray. I read my Bible. I meditate. I remember that God is in control, not me.

I know I’m not better than anyone else because I don’t compare myself to anyone else. I follow Jesus, so I’m trying to be more him, not Lily from down the street.

Another thing that my belief in Jesus and this elaborate “fairy-tale” has given me is protection from anyone who makes the unfortunate mistake of becoming my enemy. I’ve read the book, so I know that not everyone is going to like me. In fact, some will hate me, and try everything they can do destroy me.

Fortunately, I have a multitude of angels working on my behalf, contending with anyone who decides to contend with me. I can be confident, not in my own ability, but in the God who created me. He will fight all of my battles for me. All I have to do is be still, and not complain.

Whether we like it or not, the world will be hostile toward us. They won’t like us, or our message. We will be called self-righteous, hypocritical, arrogant, and smug. We will be ridiculed, rejected, and scorned.

But,

“Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.”

I can walk with my head held high because my trust is in the Lord.

I can succeed–no matter what the obstacle is– because my faith is in the Lord.

Besides, I don’t have enemies.

I have unintentional allies.

 

“Defeat? I do not recognise the meaning of the word.”

Margaret Thatcher, Former Prime Minister of  the U.K.

 

Live Well Everyone,

Erie 🙂

Talking About God Tuesday:The Church Is Not A Nightclub

In preparing today’s topic, I was constantly led to think (and write) about the exclusive nature of Christianity. Sure we are all taught that Jesus said, “Whosoever will” because it is written in the Bible (Revelation 22:17)

More and more, the words, “whosoever will” only applies to those who agree with the status quo.

I’m not referring to the standard of life that is described in the bible. Within each denomination, there are differences in doctrine, worship, and other disputable matters. As Christians are supposed to be united by our faith and the grace of God. When we become Christians, we become part of an entire body of people who are supposed to work together to achieve the good of all.

We aren’t supposed to adopt a hive-mind mentality by bullying other people into behaving and thinking the same way. Yes, we are united by our faith, but we were born individuals. Just as, it is wrong to place our individual needs above the needs of the group, we should not encourage uniformity where there’ s meant to be diversity. We all have unique experiences that form our view of the world, and to sacrifice our God-given identity in order to fit parameters that God did not give us is a trap. “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (I Corinthians 12:26)

Since we are all a part of the same body, we are obligated to show the same amount of concern for each member. Self righteousness not only causes us to believe that we’ve earned God’s grace by our good behavior, it also causes us to look down on anyone who doesn’t conform to our image of what a Christian should be.

Remember, when Jesus began his ministry, his greatest opposition was not from outsiders. The people who gave Jesus the most grief about his message of unconditional love were the people within the church, who were used to following the letter of the law (with all of its restrictive rules and regulations). When Jesus spoke to outsiders about love, it upset the status quo, shook the complacent, and exposed the holier-than-thou religious leaders for the hypocrites they were.

If we, as the church, are not careful, the same thing will happen to us. It is not up to us to stand at the doors of the church, like bouncers at a nightclub, refusing people because they’re wearing the wrong clothes. Or because they’re gay. Or black. Or white. God’s grace is available to all, and because we are imperfect beings, we’re all bound to mess up every once in a while. (Or often)

It’s funny how once we’ve made it past the velvet rope, into a welcoming (until you disagree with them) church body, we shift the rules to make it more difficult for others to get in. The truth is if we were as amazing as we claim to be, we wouldn’t need Jesus at all. We could coast successfully through life on the strength of our magnetic personalities, superior intellect, and our outstanding behaviour. Right. 🙄

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul writes, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”. You can’t bond peacefully with someone if you think you’re better than they are. Christianity isn’t an exclusive club. There are all different types of Christians, with different familial backgrounds, different ethnicities, different social classes, and with differing political viewpoints.

It is important to keep in mind that we are not any better any or worse than one another. All of us, even the ones who smoke, curse, have had an abortion, or vote liberal are valuable to God. And because we’re valued by God, it is our duty to value one another–without conditions.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. (Galatians 3:28)

Peace,

Erie

I Don’t Have A Catchy Title For Monday Posts

 

I requested today off of work because I had some important family business to attend to. It all turned out really well, (All thanks to God!) and I spent the rest of the day “window shopping” (which meant that I actually bought a new purse and a snazzy eye shadow palette. Note:I always end up buying all of my gifts early and spending the money I’ve saved on myself. Every single year) On the way home, I began thinking about forgiveness. The last couple of years have been trying ones for everyone in my family. It seemed as though we were perpetually taking one step forward, and 3 steps back. The situation was beyond our control, but thankfully, that’s where our faith filled in the gap.

Whenever we became discouraged, something would happen to give us hope. We learned not to look to our outward condition to give us an accurate picture because it changed by the week. Instead, we grew to count on our faith in God, something that has never failed us. All of us had plenty of opportunities to allow bitterness to rule us, and it was definitely warranted. But, holding onto resentment would not have made any difference in the outcome. It would have altered us in destructive ways. In order for us to gain clarity, we had to treat everyone involved with a measure of respect. Even the people who least deserved it. I honestly believe that once we changed how we saw the situation, we were better equipped to handle it. (Plus, some wise counsel helps :D)

Choosing forgiveness freed us from focusing on the past. Yesterday, my pastor said in his sermon that our past is meant to be a place of reference, not residence. We could look back and see every false step we made, but we didn’t camp out and live there. Learning from our mistakes gave us the momentum to advance, and conquer the obstacle that was placed in our way. I am grateful for all of the adversity I have had to face, either with my family, or by myself because it has given me the opportunity to learn something I would not have experienced otherwise. What was meant to break us actually ended up bonding us closer together.  While I was going through the difficult times, my favourite verse was this one: “Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine.”

I took comfort in the fact that hard times do not last forever. Eventually, the clouds will part. The sun will rise, and there may even be a rainbow, but first you have to believe it’s possible.

I think I’ll call future posts “Maudlin Monday” 😆

Peace,

Erin