Nobody’s perfect (part II)

I am part of a team of people starting “HOPE” for Mental Health at Kentwood Community Church.  We are part of Celebrate Recovery founded by Rick Warren of Saddleback Church.  This group of courageous people, who admit their imperfections and trust Jesus to deliver them, have been a catalyst to me being able to confess my sins to another trusted person (or small group).  I read my Nobody’s Perfect post from August of 2013 tonight and realized I had promised to get back to you when I had put this into practice.

Much better late than never.

I had told Jesus my sins but telling another person with skin on freed me from most of the grip of satan in my life.  No amount of prayer has freed me as much as telling my sin to another person.  Sin loses power when exposed.

I have known for years that I was “supposed to” confess my sins to another.  But I made excuses and told myself it really didn’t matter.  I lost years of my life to satan’s influence simply because “I know more than God.”

God is not mocked.  I reaped what I sowed.

But I have learned.

Hopefully.

Buyer Beware!

“It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer; then off he goes and boasts about his purchase.  Proverbs 20:14 NIV84

This was me for most of my life.  I would try and get things for less than they were worth and then tell my friends what a great deal I got.  But if Jesus says that we are to treat others (the seller) just as I would want to be treated (if I was the seller) then I need to look again at this Proverb.

If the buyer is boasting about his purchase I assume he felt it was a quality item… Who boasts about buying junk?  If that is true he lied to the buyer when he said it was “no good.”  Why would he do that?  If he did lie it may have been to get the item at a price less than the buyer thought it was worth.  To me that’s stealing.

So, if my assumptions are correct this one short sentence condemns the buyer for being a braggart, a liar and a thief.

Since coming to this realization I have been slowly changing.  I’ve been thinking about the seller’s position when I buy something, and not just my own.  If I am following (obeying) Jesus I believe God will give me all the money I need to fulfill his mission for my life. I’m not going to withhold what someone else deserves because I am afraid of running out of money (scarcity mentality). I will bless them by giving to them freely just as Jesus gives to me freely.  I will see buying something as an opportunity to love the seller and treat them as someone dearly loved by the God Who died for them.

Yet changing is difficult and I have a long way to go.

What do you think about this?  Is the seller worth showing the love of Jesus to?  Will Jesus keep you supplied with the money you need if you are doing what he says?  Do we serve the Almighty God? Or the almighty dollar?

Why God allowed suffering in my life (for both before and after becoming a Christian)

I grew up obeying rules and secretly (secret from myself, that is) thinking I was better than other people.  At nineteen, as I was beginning a slide into depression but didn’t know it, I was “called” into my bedroom by what I was hoping/afraid might be God.  I told Him I wanted to be like the Christians in the Bible.  God told me through the Bible that those who are forgiven little, love little.  But, those who are forgiven much, love much.  I thought I had little to be forgiven of so I told God I wanted to be forgiven of much and I thought it might be fun to sin.  God impressed on my spirit, “You’re a sinner!”  He wasn’t talking about your everyday church-going sinner that we all are.  He meant I was vile, evil and depraved.  I replied, “No, I’m not!”  He said again, “You’re a sinner!”  I said again, “No, I’m not!”

Then God did the kindest, most loving thing He could do for me:  He “blessed” me with mental illness (that would not be correctly treated for ten years).  The mental illness caused indescribable psychic pain, anguish, regret, and shame.  My emotions left me (but I didn’t know it) causing me to feel like I hadn’t really talked to anyone for ten years; I literally felt alone for all of those years.  And, my Pride was assaulted:  I was in and out of mental hospitals, I was humiliated because I lost many jobs, I could not do some of the simplest of things (like count money), and I despised being labeled mentally ill and a failure.

Why did I call it God’s “blessing?” because that was the only way for my Pride to fall.  I came to realize I was vile, evil and depraved; just like God had told me.  God called me again after ten years and I grudgingly accepted Him.  And God began the continuous work of changing me so that eventually I will have the beautiful loving character of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus.

But bringing me to Jesus wasn’t the only value of the pain.  God allowed that pain to go deep within to allow me to care deeply about the hurts of others; to be able to empathize with others, and let others in pain know I that have hurt deeply as well.  I use the pain God gave me every day in my job, as I walk alongside those dealing with mental illness.  (And, I also use the pain to understand others who have experienced pain, such as my children, who were traumatized before we adopted them).

I wouldn’t wish mental illness on anyone.  I wish I could have learned without the pain.  But God used the pain to win me to Himself and change me; and help me to care about, and be willing and able to serve, others.

And for that I will forever be grateful.