You are one of the strongest women I know…

Was received as both a compliment and a contradiction quite some time ago. But this statement likes to make a reappearance in my brain from time to time to remind me it was said. To fill my emotions with the security I felt the day it was mentioned. To almost tawnt me into the ring of life with an “are you chicken?” kind of tone. I know there are times I exhibit strength. I know there are times I have been stronger than others. I know I have pushed through certain types of pain that would melt the average individual. But all this pales in comparison to the massive list, I have in my mind of the times I have been anything but strong. Where I have been weak, weaker, the weakest. I give in to what others want, I sacrifice a dream because of fear, I look the other way because I don’t want the hassle, or I am afraid of what people will say or think of my choice.  So in the picture of the tipping scales, most of the time, I do not SEE myself as STRONG. So when I come face to face with one of my battles, I hear the second part of the conversation:

“…Are you going to let THIS define you?  Are you going to let this one thing defeat you?  This is nothing, this is minor, this is such a minute part of life; I cannot believe for an instant you are not strong enough to overcome it, defeat it, master it.” 

And there is was… a statement of BELIEF in who I am as a person.  A statement that reminded me of how much BIGGER and HUGER I have made this whole food, exercise, weight issue in my life.  Why isn’t this as straight forward as every other challenge I have undertaken?  Why has this habit, lifestyle, perspective taken up sacred untouchable territory in my subconscious?

For me it is simple… because I allow it.  I have decided that there are enough excuses, reasons, allowances for me to be this way, eat this way, live this way that it is OK to given in, give up, throw in the towel at a moments amount of pain.  People will understand, its okay, sometimes its just too hard, life just can’t always be won.  Everyone has something they struggle with.  But I must say I am tired of this being MY THING… I am ready for a new challenge.  I am ready for God to reveal to me something ELSE in my character I can master and correct and improve.  So no more excuses, no more permission, no more reasons it is acceptable to give in.

Make decisions now for the outcomes you want later.  So I am making decisions now that will give me the outcome later… In the center of my decision making process is the fear of pain, embarrassment, rejection, humiliation.  And I have determined that it is better to hide behind the physical boundary of weight than to deal with the world without it.  I heal my pain with food, I reward my pleasure center with food, I hide away in my room away from life and activity for fear of the pain mistakes bring, judgement holds, and life distributes.  But that is not the life I want, that is not the life I can have, that is not the life I am meant to experience.

Only one way to change direction… change actions.  It is time to build character, strength training for the soul, kick that belief out of command central of my feelings, and do things that hurt.  Do things that will stretch my heart, mind, & soul to new places.  I’ve tried easy, I’ve tried grace, I’ve tried one step at a time; but now its time to take command of my life.  Tell my inner self it’s time to get in line soldier… because we are going to the high places, we are going to change our name, we are going to do as the Shepherd says because the time of living as Much Afraid is over…

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Genesis 4:6 – Cain missed the Lesson

For some reason, I seem to identify with the characters in the Bible that get into trouble.  Now not the ones like David, Jezebel, Ananias and Sapphira; but more the ones that get criticized or reprimanded: Martha, Peter, Cain.  So today’s reading seems a little appropriate.

“You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

 There has always been something about Cain (pre-murder) that I have identified with. I am not sure if it is the constant feeling I have that I haven’t done ENOUGH, that brings that identification. OR it could be that more times in my life I did things wrong (not what God wanted) when I thought they were right (close enough).  And finally there is feeling like I have always seem to end up in 2nd place and that is a BAD place to be.  I mean I heard all growing up, “There is only 1 winner, there is no 2nd best.”  So if some gets praise higher than mine, I must be the loser.  I know a few pretty deep rooted performance issues I think. 🙂  Or it could be as simple as I’m the oldest and Cain’s the oldest; I have been hearing bible stories since before I can remember, so it could just be that simple.  Yet, even with these identifiers I do not feel connected with Cain in his CHOICE to kill Abel.  That is where I find him going to an extreme I could NEVER imagine. See People pleasing  post for reference.

Although I am finding that with the last 2 sentences in the reading today, I am reminded that God’s point was to warn Cain of what was in his heart.  Funny thing these days is how much I hear EVERYWHERE to follow your heart.  From friends on relationships, to the television about the latest product I just MUST HAVE, to guys who think a girl will fall in love by defaulting to an emotional whim.  It seems odd to listen to the one thing that seems to get us into the most trouble.  Now in this verse it doesn’t specifically name the heart as the source of the sin, but it says it is crouching right at the door; ever heard the expression door to your heart? hmmmm.  And even a step further is that this is EAGER to control you. 

These conflicts between listen to your gut, follow your heart, do what feels good AND take the higher road, good comes to those who wait, use your mind all seem to have existed even stronger as I get older.  I am continually at conflict with the culture that wants to remove all pain, inconvenience, conflict, and discomfort from our lives which seems to coincide with what Cain chose to do.  It wasn’t the fact he brought grain instead of an animal offering, it was that Cain took the short cut, easy way, most convenient path.  And when it comes to giving to God what he has ASKED of us; he’s not interested in the short cut.  God is consistently challenging us to press through, work harder, survive the pain, overcome the challenge, do what’s right as the mind decides.  Even Cain did not see the laziness or short-comings of his sacrifice.  That God was using it as a lesson to challenge him to do better and not settle for less seems to have been lost on Cain.  But in his anger at being “taught” this lesson it erupted into murder instead of the change of heart God wanted. 

I’ve always wondered why sin seems to control us, dominate us, or possess us; but the good things we have to strive for, fight for, and work for don’t stick unless we practice and use them ALL the time.  But when sin gets a teeny tiny entrance into our lives it grabs on for dear life and digs in and won’t let go.  I am remembering an X-files episode (well episodes) from years ago about the black oil.  Now this black oil had a way of sticking to itself, but it hide in its victims and only floated to the surface (in their eyes) from time to time and OF COURSE when no one was looking.  But this oil was hard to remove and more often than not it would drive its victims to some horrible action, which led to their deaths.  Sounds like Sin to me.

So even in one of the oldest stories, it was thought-provoking to me that Cain was overcome by anger and controlled by sin which led to him missing the lesson that God was trying to teach him.  So I am challenged to see some of my situations and ask through my hurt and anger: OK GOD!!! What are you trying to teach me?  Because I know I do not want to let my anger drive me to kill as Cain did.