Wednesday, 12 April 2017

What's Your Anything?

After Christmas, I joined a women's bible study group here in Winnipeg. I was pretty hesitant to do so because... well...
because this: 

Let's just say it serves me right for having a bad attitude. This gathering of intelligent, genuinely incredible and diverse women has been a challenging and encouraging group and heck yes, the awesome childcare doesn't hurt. Together, we worked through a Bible study accompanied by the book "Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul" by Jennie Allen. If you're not familiar with it, basically Jennie and her husband sat down one night and systematically prayed over every part of their lives, offering them to God and this book is based on them telling God that He could have anything in their lives (Read the book. It's much better than my summary).

So that's cool. Super basic stuff if you're a Christian, right? God's supposed to be in charge of my decisions, finances, careers, etc. No big deal. 

Except it made me super uncomfortable which is usually a sign that something is way off. 

Quote: Jennie Allen

In this case, it turns out that I am way off, so that stinks because then I have to deal with it. During this study, Jenny talks about the idols of entitlement and approval and how, if our identity is not rooted in Christ, then we end up in bondage to these things. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don't need the approval of the world, blah blah blah, but that entitlement one. It struck a nerve. 

She asked: What do you feel entitled to? Why? 

This question unearthed a whole lot of bitterness and anger that I've been clinging to in my heart. 

Let me back up. Last year was a doozy. I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of our second daughter and my husband completed his fifth and final year of a surgical residency and wrote national board exams. Then he went away to work for a month while I packed our entire house to move to a new city. In short, it was one of the most stressful experiences of our lives. No one bit was unmanageable but between the cumulative effect of my mental state and the real challenges, everything felt overwhelming.

Rationally, I know I was not alone. I know God was there. I know that everyone around me did what they could. I know that as an adult I have a measure of personal responsibility and ability. None of this changes the fact that once I started to cope and was able to manage simple tasks again, I felt really really let down. I thought I was screaming for help from the rooftops and with the exception of a few amazing people, no one offered a hand. I swallowed the injustice down and carried on. --- I was feeling better! Life is busy! Look at all these blessings! --- but the permanently pissed-off-hurt feeling remained, just beneath my skin. A whiff of injustice and my injured entitled self came out, guns blazing. 

How dare my parents choose to retire to another province? They're not here for me. 
How dare my friends have their own lives? They're not here for me.
How dare my husband concentrate on a career that provides for our family? He's not here for me.

If it sounds completely ridiculous and nonsensical, that's because it is.  

I know that the world doesn't revolve around me but apparently, just under the surface, I think it should. I mean, who writes an entire scathing post about an encounter with a librarian? I would link to that post, but I removed it because, COME ON. I know that every person is dealing with their own struggles and I should be prepared to extend the same grace I expect to receive.

And there's the rub. I do expect to receive it. I feel entitled to it. I assume that the people around me will be understanding, kind, thoughtful, overwhelmingly helpful and considerate of ME at all times. I'm 100% entitled to that and when it doesn't happen, I feel really really hurt and angry. I get sarcastic and defensive. I get huffy over imagined slights. I pull back and hermit instead of investing in relationships and then I start dwelling there.

So that's nice. 

You might at this point be wondering what I expect of MYSELF in relation to everyone else? That's a dang good question. And the answer is: not much because I'm too busy being hurt and offended and struggling to get through the day. Don't get me wrong, depression definitely amplifies this situation but there comes a point where enough is enough.

So let's bring this all back to the Bible study. Here's everyone openly sharing their "anything." You know, like God's asking me to open my home to children, God's asking me to relinquish more of my finances, God's asking me to let go of the control I want to have over my husband and his choices and here I am, petulantly clutching my grudges and fuming over the unfairness of my lot. 

What a load of garbage (me, not them)

It turns out, my 'anything' that I have to hand over to God is my petty little heart. It's handing him the reins to the security, acceptance and love that I'm demanding from everyone else and saying, God, I know you are more than enough. It's acknowledging the truth that wholeness is only found in Him. It's letting go of the anger, discontent and bitterness that I've been stirring so that He can offer me peace, freedom and love that are eternal and secure.

It's the backward solution that looks nothing at all like what we deserve. This God came down to earth as a scandalous baby in a dirty barn to remind every one of us that we are entitled to death but that He offers the free gift of life in Him. It's total and utter grace.

So why am I sharing this sort of embarrassing and immature confession ON THE INTERNET? 

Because if you're anything like me, the 'anything' that you need to hand over to God to experience freedom in your life isn't some huge public decision. It's not minimizing your wardrobe to 33 items. It's not having (or being) the most supportive encouraging friend. And it's not whether or not you should move your family to Africa... or if it is, it doesn't start there. 

It starts with a clean heart and open hands right where you find yourself today. It starts with shifting the focus off myself and onto Christ. We're not living in the in-between. Life is happening right now, so let's get rid of the junk, the bitterness and the lies that clog up everything, lay it down and be ready... for anything. 

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

P.S. Sorry for the things I said when I thought I was horribly unjustly treated and injured... and also when it was winter. Every. Dang. Year. 
-xoxo Abbie

No comments:

Post a comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...