Many people that I personally interacted with today are worried about what President-elect Donald Trump will do to them; their relationships, their bodies, their jobs. I didn’t understand until I thought: Would I be concerned about my religious rights and freedom of speech rights if Hillary Clinton had won? I am very scared of the trouble her presidency would have caused me and worried if I would be willing to stay true to Jesus in the face of unknown suffering.
These people are also tired of hearing, “Don’t worry,” “Get over it,” and other mindless remarks by friends, family, etc. that may show they don’t understand, don’t care or both.
What I am trying to do is listen with my heart for their heart. We are all people and we all have a story. If I interrupt, judge, give advice am I going to hear their story? Do I really just want to hear myself talk and confirm to myself how brilliant I am in my own eyes or do I want to discover another beautiful human being and their unique story?
Everyone’s opinion makes sense to them. If I listen long enough they may tell me why they feel the way they do. Today I heard why someone believes in doing something I wouldn’t do. And from their perspective it made sense.
This presidential election proved that most people want to be heard. And “the other side” has feelings and concerns that don’t make sense.
Until you listen.
The title is from https://i-m-4-u.com/2013/07/14/forgiving-can-be-tough/ and captures part of my struggle. The other part is that I definitely need to know more. And yet the two are intertwined.
God will not give me more instruction if I am not doing what he has already given me. If I want to know more I have to actually do more of what he has already said . That’s the hard part.
Or is it? I have the most fun when I am obeying God.
I think for me it is the process of deciding to obey God that is the toughest part. I have to risk, and trust Him that what I don’t want to do now is exactly what I will be glad I did later. Many times I feel alone when deciding. (This may be why I need to be part of a small group). No matter what help I have, it is in the end my decision. And if I want to know more, if I want to experience Jesus closer to me, I must obey Him.
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.
I am grateful to God for the mental illness He gave me. (But I would never want to repeat it). Looking back I was “crazier” when I was “sane” and sane now that I’m mentally ill.
Let me unpack that.
Before mental illness I wanted to be a aerospace engineer. I wanted to impress people with how smart I was. I wanted fame, fortune, power and pleasure. I had bought the whole commercial-driven American media world-view.
Most of the girls in my high school graduation class wanted to be social workers it seemed. I thought they were crazy. Helping people seemed like a colossal, boring, unrewarding waste of time.
It was at this point that God publicly invaded my private world. God told me I was a sinner, but I didn’t believe Him. What I didn’t know was that I was in love with myself, looked down on everyone else, and thought the world should serve me. That’s when God gave me mental illness. And my life and the lies I told myself, about myself, fell with a great crash. God humbled me. I couldn’t get much “lower” in superficial stereo-typed status than being intermittently locked up in mental hospitals.
For the next ten years I fought God and the meds. At the end of ten years God gave me the wisdom to take the meds. Then He sent Bonnie, who knew and loved Jesus, to tell me Jesus loved me. I wasn’t interested. Then Bonnie told me that if I rejected the love of Jesus, the only thing left for me was hell.
That got my attention.
I chose to turn around and follow Jesus.
He forgave me, loved me and gave me a heart that cared about other people. Now I am a Certified Peer Support Specialist working with others who themselves deal with mental illness. I encourage, give hope, and care. And I love it. It took most of my life to discover my life’s work. And it took going “crazy” to discover what real sanity is.
There is a man I have the privilege of working with on a leadership project for our church. He loves Jesus, his family, his church and more. He has been the video production backbone of our team.
And he recently turned 14.
I wish I had had his wisdom when I was his age.
Luke 12:48b NKJV
For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.
This verse at first glance seems like a downer to me. But this verse is like a coin. One side is responsibility. When God gives us much we are required to use it all and make the most of it. The other side of the coin is blessedness, happiness, and joy. When God gives us much we have the opportunity to love God and others with more. And that results in ourselves and others having more opportunities to experience joy.
I believe this young man will continue with Jesus. And make the most of his relationship with the Master. And I believe he has much joy in his future: for God, others and himself.