This Summer Has Been a Test of Character
I have always been wishy washy about the idea that God tests us. I don’t believe that we have a God who desires for us to go through trial, to lose loved ones, to suffer or anything else along those lines. I believe that God experiences what we too experience. When we struggle, He is there watching every painstaking moment of it, like a parent watches over their child. I believe that there are times when He wants to intervene but He chooses, like a parent, to allow us to do for ourselves so that we can learn and grow. If He didn’t, what kind of a world would we live in? That is one of the most amazing aspects of the faith I believe in- it is 100%, purely, and truly MY choice.
What God does desire for us is to respond to all situations, be it trial, stress, anger, you name it, in a way that is pleasing to Him. He wants us to reflect on how Jesus lived His life while He was physically here on earth and respond in a similar way to the situations that we face. Sounds simple, right? Ha.
I’ve had string after string after string of days where I just don’t know what to do next. I want to cry. I want to pull on my worn sparring gloves and have another go around with the punching bag, I want to run, hardlongandfast. I want to pull up my book and get lost in someone else’s world so that the stress of my own can melt away for a while. But this isn’t always what God wants me to do. He wants me to hold my head high. Allow myself to cry when the situation warrants it, because with deep passion comes deep emotion. But He wants me to quiet the defensiveness that rises up inside of me and thank the person instead, because regardless of how very hard the situation is, I still have a choice in how I react.
How do you react when you feel completely disrespected, devalued, and well smushed like a bug you can tell the other person just couldn’t stand?
My family would yell, scream, take it out on someone else. But I refuse. People ask me, those who know my whole story, and there are only a rare few, how I made it through that hell. I say it’s because I could see what was going on, but what isn’t always clear in my response is that what was really going on was God working within me. I’m not always sure I would live it all again, but its summers like this that I am thankful for the acquired ability to set myself aside and let God act instead.
I’ll say I’m sorry, even though I am deeply hurt. I will ignore the voice in my head that says all the words of what I think is going on, and instead look for what you need from me. I can’t remember Jesus asking for what He needed…but I remember Him selflessly giving to others over and over again. He gave to them even when they struck Him, dishonored Him, turned against Him, or didn’t even believe in Him. Who am I to say that I cannot do the same?
I heard a line on the radio the other day that has stuck with me. A woman was telling a story about her child and how she was hoping that she would come to be a Christian, but she was old enough now that the mom couldn’t do much more than be a role model anymore. Introducing God into the girl’s life and sharing her beliefs was done. It was time for the girl to work through the thick of it to figure what she believed and how to get through life when you readily fall into the “band nerd” (or insert any other like term here) category. And the mom said that one day her daughter just looked her dead in the eye and said, “Jesus has a thing for dorks, doesn’t He?” I couldn’t help but laugh.
Whether we’re dorks or we’ve been on the wrong path and done things that lead us to wonder why we have all that we have now, Jesus still chose us. He picked out the prostitute, the begger, the sick, you name it. I’m supposed to live my life like that.
This is a concept that I knew long before I knew I had a life for God. But I knew it in a different way. I thought the only way I could walk a life like Jesus did is for me to go out and find a homeless person and help them get work, a home, food, clothing, etc. I thought I had to travel the world to places where others have nothing in comparison to the riches we have here. But this isn’t the plan that God had for me, and it’s not the plan that He has for many others also. He does have this plan for some, and I am thankful that He does, but you see, God will work through us in HIS own way. Not mine. But I have to be willing to let Him. And sometimes the most difficult time to let Him to work through me in HIS own way is when we feel like we just can’t catch a break.
When I look at my summer and I look at the things that have been happening and the amount of stress I have felt…ug, I wanna stop typing right there. But if I dig deeper, if I put myself aside, take myself out of it completely, I see something different entirely. I have been given the chance to show the love of God. When I was in that meeting, what He wanted me to show was the passion I had, the passion that came from Him, and my willingness to push past myself into something else. He wanted me to allow His presence to be known. But it was up to me to allow it to happen. All it would have taken was one move for it all to be washed away, but I chose Him. “You handled that with such GRACE”. No I didn’t. God did. That wasn’t me. That was God. It was His grace. I chose to let Him lead the way. I don’t know how I do it, in fact I know that I cannot do it, it’s God that does it through me. But what I know is that if I allow Him to work through me in this way, my life will be changed and so will the life of all of those around me. Why else would I then end up back in PT and the first conversation we have is about God?
It doesn’t matter that more happened before this event and that more keeps on rolling in after. It doesn’t matter that I don’t always know how I can keep my head cool and the list goes on and on. What matters is that I can see that God has something in mind that He would love to accomplish. But He needs me to do it. I can’t believe that someone as big and as grand as He could need or want someone as simple as one person like me to do His will, but that is the beauty of how He works. He wants me to show His presence in this place and He wants me to demonstrate that His love is real, that He is love. He wants to show me that there is another set of life experiences that He will walk me right through- helping me to forget just how difficult they were and remember instead how awesome and all powerful that He is.
He wants to love me. And He wants others to witness it. He doesn’t want me to experience strife. It is a test in character; do I want to allow God to work through me and to blindly trust Him no matter what? Or do I want to be selfish and try to handle it on my own and be left with nothing but stress, fear, and pain? What I know is that I have chosen to let Him lead. And every moment when I make this same choice again, I have peace, love, and wholeness. I’m not sure that I need anything else.