Monday, May 23, 2011

Pride with a capital and bold P

**Spoiler alert: I'm about to really put myself down here but bear with me. This message isn't me asking for some comforting words from friends.. in fact that would probably feed my pride :)

 Sometimes, like most women, I feel pretty down about myself. I sometimes feel ugly, or fat, or not dressed right. I often look in the mirror and critique everything I see. It doesn't matter how beautiful someone tells me I am, I still see flaws in myself. I realize that most women if not all have this problem. I don't see my situation necessarily as unique, but I do think I struggle with this a little more than anyone would realize. It gets to the point where I often let it rule my life and I try and try to meet the world's and my own standard for beauty. I'm not saying it's right obviously, but it's how I feel.

I could easily start running or eating better.... or both. I could save up money and go to the best stores and buy the latest fashions. I could even go and get my hair done more regularly so it styled better. But would I really be happy? I've been skinny before. Back in high school I went through this weird phase where I was starving all the time, yet hardly had to eat a bite to get full. It was AWESOME to say the least. But even then I wasn't happy. My hair still didn't do what I wanted, and my clothes were still cheap. I've bought nice adorable clothes, but my body just didn't fit right into them and my hair still didn't do what I wanted. And I've also had super cute haircuts that styled perfectly with barely any effort, buy those nice haircuts often showed off my unattractive clothes or not so perfect body. Don't get me wrong, I've had lots of days where I've felt beautiful! There were days when I just wore a t-shirt and shorts and felt like I was having the best hair day EVER and was happy with that. But all too often I'm not happy with anything. That's the problem. Everything could be right, and yet all I see are the mistakes.

I've always chalked this up to insecurity or envy. But pride? No, pride is when you think very highly of yourself... right? Trust me I know pride. I look at others and think, "Wow, I'm better than so and so." or "Why did they decide to do that with their life? So glad I didn't go down that road!" Now that's pride!

But maybe, just maybe, pride isn't solely about thinking highly of one's self, but just thinking solely about one's self all together? Even though I tend to think pretty lowly of myself, I am extremely prideful. Now wait just one darn minute! I thought thinking lowly of your self was being humble? Isn't humility all about seeing yourself as not as important as others? "Errrrr...." goes the buzzer, wrong again!

 As I've been learning in the last few weeks pride isn't just about having an inflated view of myself. It could be a very Deflated view of myself! But either way it's about Me, Me, Me! How does this affect me? Is it hurting or helping me? Man, I look horrible, man I wish I was this, man I wish I could change this about Myself.  Me, Me, Me.

Another issue I never dreamed was pride, is my shyness. Now I'm not saying that being shy is pride! But with me, being shy makes me dwell on it all the time! It rules my life! I don't want to go hang out with people I don't know because I may make a fool out of myself by sitting there silently the whole night. Who wants to hang out with someone like that!? Once again its become all about me. What happens if someone talks to me? What happens if someone doesn't like me? Me, Me, Me.

And the worst part of all? My devotions have become all about me. What will I get out of this today? How will this affect my life? You know it's coming, Me, Me, Me... I'm tired of looking at it that way. I'm tired of looking at life this way! Instead of wondering what I'm going to get out of my devotions and how they'll benefit me, I should be seeking God and looking for His attributes. As my pastor says, "The Bible is not a self help book. That creates an "All about me" attitude. It shows who God is, through it we can know Him personally."  It's about His fame, not mine. God wants us to be humble. Humility is about not thinking about yourself at all. It's not about putting yourself down and putting others on a pedestal. Even that tends to end up being pride. I'm done with thinking all about me, no matter how high or how low. All that matters is God! And you know, that's not me thinking lowly of myself again, but me finally not thinking about myself at all! Aw the comfort of freedom!

I'm ready Lord to brake these chains of sin! Help me to stop looking at myself and wondering what I can do to make myself better, but to start looking at you and wondering how I can show you off. Not my fame, but yours.

With love,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rebuke in the kindest of ways.

This is going to be a hard entry to write today. It's always a little unnerving to admit what your thinking, especially when sin is effecting your thinking. But once again God is showing me wonderful things.

I'd first like to start out with a verse that I have recently found to be a Great prayer... I'm sure many of you have heard it,

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23,24

Today a part of the verse jumped off the page, "Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life." I guess I should have known that if I'm going to pray something like that, God's going to answer me, and boy He has!!!

As I said this entry is going to be uncomfortable for me. I hate admitting my sins or issues to anyone. I'd rather the world think I was just this perfect little person that had it all together... but we all know that is so far from the truth about any of us. I feel that God's calling me to be real, to tell the absolute truth. Before I became a Christian I thought all Christians were hypocrites because they acted like they had it all together but totally did not, I don't want anyone to get that impression about me. Yes I have Christ in my life, Yes I am totally changing from it, Yes my life is getting better and better, and Yes I still struggle with sin and have down days and hypocritical moments. Though I am "no longer obligated to follow my sinful nature" (Romans 8:12-13) I still fall back into it from time to time. Sometimes I want what I want instead of what God wants.

Having said all that I wanted to share with you something God has Really laid on my heart the last few days. I am SO prideful and judgmental. Oooh it hurts to admit that! Doing a constant Bible study and spending quiet time with God has changed me in so many miraculous ways. God has taught me about my anger and jealousy. But Satan isn't happy about this. He doesn't want me to have a relationship with Christ. And so my sinful nature keeps urging me to "Look around and notice who isn't reading their Bible. Notice who's having anxiety and isn't putting it at the foot of the cross. Notice who claims to be a Christian... they don't do devos like you do, they haven't changed like you have... clearly they're not as good of a Christian as you are." Shivers down the spine! Can't you just hear a creepy whispering voice saying all of that? Satan constantly whispers these little things into my ear, stroking my ego.  "Well yes, I have been doing quite good haven't I? I am closer to God than so and so aren't I? I mean look at how they treat people or look at their obvious sin!" Ugh!!!! I used to lay in bed at night and just beg God to help me understand why I am this way. In the past I would look up psychological explanations. I'd take little personality tests to figure out why I think I'm so much better than others. Nothing ever gave me a clear answer or peace. But then this past year I've realized all my short comings are sin. Plain and simple. Sin is the root of it all.  But the awesome thing about that is We have "no obligation whatsoever to do what our sinful nature urges us to do.... But if through the power of the Holy Spirit you turn from it and its evil deeds, you will live" Romans 8:12-13

Today I read 1 Cor. 3-4. Chapter 4 verse 7 says,

What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn't given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own? (NLT)

Um, wow. It was like God sat down next to me and said, "Abbey, why do you think you're so much better than your brothers and sisters? What do you have that I haven't given you? Why do you act as though all the changes in your life are something you accomplished on your own? Do you honestly believe that it's because of your good works and discipline that you are different? Dear child! It is I that have changed you on the inside!" And to that I argued, "Yes you have changed me, but only because I came to you. Wasn't it I that started reading my Bible? Wasn't it I that decided to have the will power to spend hours with you? Wasn't it, wasn't it?"

See! I have such a huge head that I think I can argue with God and show Him that it is all by my power.

Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

I may decide to water myself, to feed myself on God's word, but it because of God that I grow. If I am to boast about anything that has been given to me or has happened to me, I should only be boasting about what it is God has done, not myself. Oh it is still so hard to wrap my head around this! I want so badly to say "Look at what I have done! Look at what I am capable of!" But it is not so!

Lord I just pray that you help me with my pride! Help me to realize that it is ALL to your glory and that I can not take the credit. I don't completely understand your ways or your thoughts... infact I often feel like I am so far from understanding. Please continue working in me so that I may learn to hear your voice clearly. Holy Spirit you are the Spirit given to us from God, help me to understand the depths of God, to know Your thoughts, to discern Your ways O God! In your Heavenly name amen!

This is an ongoing journey my friends. And I am SO excited to be on it! I pray that God is able to use me to reach you and teach you just like He is teaching me. Like a potter that only works with soft clay, God will only work with soft workable hearts. We are to be teachable, we are to go to Him open handed and open minded. Not our ways and thought, O Lord, but yours!

Much love,