Three things. I repeatedly talk about three things that help to keep people, myself included in that category, on track and self-accountable.
1. You are where you are because of the choices you have made.
2. You are exactly where you are supposed to be.
3. God has a plan. He is not surprised by anything happening in your world.
Those three beliefs have helped me for years and I know have helped others. In fact, other than, lead with love, my entire platform/belief system...whatever you want to call it, is based on those statements.
And they work pretty well. It helps us to take responsibility for the choices of our lives. It helps us to have a bit of "control" over our little corner of the world. It's an overwhelming thought believing that we have to try and "fix" others or try and change them in order to make us happy, or make our world feel orderly. It's not possible. The only person we have any say over is ourselves. The only person we can change... is looking back at us from the mirror.
It's not just a set of beliefs... those statements are based in fact. When you feel you've wandered down the wrong path and are bumped up against a brick wall, you can... every time... go backwards and see the choices that were made that got you there. And even more than the choices; the thoughts you were thinking at the time that convinced you of those choices. Which halts any kind of "victim mentality" of "why is this happening to me?"
(Yes, I realize there are things that have nothing to do with our choices, and the random acts of others, but let's focus on the bigger picture of how we govern our own lives regardless- sometimes in spite of- those around us. Okay? )
And I believe that. I believe that with all of my being. And it's easy to share these statements as advice or "warnings" to others while everything is sunny and rosy in our world.
But... what happens when it's you.
What if it's you that have found yourself in dire straits and you can't accept why or how you got there.
Do you still believe?
Are those statements still true?
Do they still stand the fact-test?
Yes. They do.
2023 began for me with the startling discovery that my husband had emptied our bank account and abandoned all responsibilities in our marriage. He broke all communication. And just walked away. (Here is where I say this isn't the first time he's walked away from our marriage... this is actually number three.)
You can see where I'm going with this, right?
While I was... (and am, still) shocked... Surprised... Hurt... I can see the path of my choices. And when I am crying to God about my anguish, He comforts me, because He knew this was coming. The red flags were there all along. I saw them. I ignored them.
I have my reasons for going back again and again trying to hold a crumbling marriage together, but they were wrong. I didn't want to see. I didn't want to believe.
I am where I am today because of choices I made... or perhaps, didn't make. I refused to see the person before me and instead chose to believe that I could love enough for both of us. I chose to believe that I "couldn't" leave the marriage because he needed me. I chose to believe that if I just hang on, things would work themselves out... we just had to get to this point... or that goal. It's a hard truth when you have to look at that face in the mirror and acknowledge that you let her down. The lack of making choices... got us here.
Abandoned and facing bankruptcy.
I may have had the best of intentions. I may have believed I could fix things. I may have known that he didn't love me in return. But the choices I made... put me right here.
You are where you are supposed to be.
How could I possibly be where I'm supposed to be? I can accept that I made bad choices. Loved the wrong people. Trusted the wrong people, but do I deserve to be here? Is this really what my life is supposed to be? I am filled with shame. I am fighting depression. I am being humiliated and lied about and slandered. I am in such a deep, engulfing pain that it can't POSSIBLY be what is supposed to be happening right now, right?
Yes. Apparently it is.
God knows what's happening. And He is not surprised.
So... if I believe number 3. I have to believe number 2. And if I TRULY believe number 3, I need to dig in and find out what He wants me to learn from this.
Therefore, I need to lean into Him even more and not do ANYTHING without consulting Him. I am obviously grounded from making my own choices for a while because I think with my heart and not my head.
God says, "come to me and I will give you rest". He says to lay my burdens at His feet. He says that HE is the way the truth and the light and HE will make all things work for those who believe in Him. He will grant me strength in my waiting and I will get through this.
I will make new choices. I will cry. I will be sad. I will allow the feelings of guilt and abandonment to pass through me, but I will choose not to stay there. I will not seek revenge. I will forgive, but I will not forget.
I don't usually stay "down" for long. And I hope and pray this year will not be any different along those lines. I will fall back on my big three:
I am where I am because of the choices I made.
I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I will allow God to use this experience to mold me and repurpose it for His glory.
God was not surprised by these events. He knows my heart. He knows my blind spots. He knows my compassion. He knows resilience.
And ... I will continue to lead with love. It may be at arms length for a while, but... love is love and I can't not give it away. It's no one else's fault. (Well... maybe ONE PERSON... but...) It's no one else's fault that I should withhold love from others.
When I feel lost in my purpose; when I feel thrown off track, I hit the reset button and always go back to the original assignment: Love others as I have loved you.
Let It Go
Your blog post today is a product of the magical, distracting power of Disney. I've been trying to work on helping you to let go of your past troubles so they don't weigh down your future. And Disney's Frozen song keeps running through my head, "Let It Go." Excellent advice. "... the past is in the past..." While I will try to keep my singing to a minimum, there is some important and valuable keys to be learned here.
We all make mistakes. No one is perfect. We have all made painful decisions that we wish we hadn't. No one is free from that. No one. I wish I could take the pain away that is associated with your past, the fact is that it happened that way for a reason. You hopefully learned something; grew from your mistakes, and if that's the case- Good for you. Because you have learned to make your stumbling block your stepping stone. You are who you are today, because of the things in your past- good or bad.
But for the others who are carrying around guilt, self-loathing, bitterness and anger, I am here to say let it go. You are dragging your past into your future where it was not meant to be. There is nothing so big that you cannot be forgiven for (Acts 10:43), but the one you need forgiveness from in most cases is yourself. Let it go...
Your brain is a powerful thing. It obeys what you tell it to do. When you put it on auto-pilot, it can dredge up some painful images and show them to you over and over again allowing them to tell yourself things that just aren't true. "You weren't good enough for her." "You aren't smart enough to get into that college." "You deserve to unhappy." "You have done some bad, bad things." Every time you replay those images, they get a little bit stronger. They take over a little more of your thought process. Your brain is SO amazing that not only will it display those images, but it can cause you to evoke the emotions that go right along with it. So if you think on it, real hard, it's like the same painful thing is happening again, right now, making those memories and wounds fresh again.
Is that really where you want to be? Do you really want to punish yourself over and over again for something that you can do absolutely nothing about? You can't change the past. You can't un-do anything that has already happened. But you can make choices for your future. Did you know that your brain will also do what you tell it to do? You don't have to be at the mercy of your memories. When those thoughts come at you, make the conscious effort to change the channel. You don't have to let those memories have control over you. Change the channel.
Quit thinking about it.
Quit talking about it.
Quit replaying the disappointments.
Quit reliving the hurt and the bad choices.
When you can't close the doors on the past, you are practically locking the doors to your future. You know the saying, when one door closes, another will open. Well the new door can't open if you haven't closed the old door! Your future can't truly begin if you're still lugging around the pain from your yesterdays. Change your future by taking control of your thoughts and letting the past stay in the past. Those thoughts WILL come up again, but you have to choose to guard your thoughts. Keep moving forward.
It doesn't matter where you were born. It doesn't matter how you were raised. It doesn't matter if he/she left you. It doesn't matter if you didn't get the job. You are not a victim.
How long are you going to blame outside events for your shortcomings? How long are you going to mourn for your losses? When is it time to turn things around and take on the future that you really and truly want? I'm not dismissing the things that have happened to you. But we have all had things, bad things, happen in our lives that we wish didn't happen. You still have a choice! Let go of the victim mentality. Let go of the bitterness. Let go of the anger, the hate and the anguish. Let go of the ashes so you can see the beauty.
Sometimes not getting what you thought you wanted is the blessing in and of itself. If it was meant to be, then it would be. You are not your past. You can't change your yesterdays, but you do have some input on all of your tomorrows. Use your powerful brain to see where it is that you want to be in your future. See the things that make you happy. Focus on the ones that you love and love you in return.
At some point, we have to decide when to let go. You've done all you can do. Nothing else is going to change for the better. You have to come to terms that it is over and done. We may not ever understand how we came to this point, "but here I stand, in the light of day" and you have to decide to move past it. If you continue to hang on, it will only drag you down. Let it go. Cut off the dead weight and feel the heaviness come off your shoulders. It is not until you acknowledge the end that a new beginning can start. It is where you are unwilling to walk away, that you will be forever stuck. You can't go backwards. You weren't meant to go back. You have a whole new life waiting for you to live it if you will just give it a chance.
Every morning is a clean canvas. A new chance to start over. Unlock the doors to your future. Change the channel. Forgive your past. Let it go.
Forgive those who have hurt you.
Forgive the man that broke your heart.
Forgive the woman that wouldn't give you a chance.
Forgive the boss who passed you over for the promotion.
Forgive the circumstances that led to pain or feelings of unjust.
Forgive. Whether it was something that happened ten minutes ago or ten years ago. Forgive.
This does not mean that your life will be easy. There will be new trials and temptations and painful events that will blindside you, just repeat. Forgive and let it go.
Isaiah 43:18-19 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
Did you know, the command "fear not" is the most repeated command in the Bible? There are over 365 references to calming your fears and anxieties. One for everyday of the year and then some!
Fear is something we all face and handle in different ways. Fear of loss, fear of death, of rejection, of the unknown, even fear of airplanes, spiders, heights, masks, clowns, the number thirteen.... Whew! The list goes on and on. No wonder God made it a priority for His people to know to "fear not, because He is always with us" And for His people, He is patient and reminds us again and again day after day... fear not.
Here are a few of my favorite verses that I use in my daily life and I hope that they are a blessing to you as well.
For all my worriers out there, I keep this one on hand. "Be anxious for nothing." Philippians 4:6 One of my favorites. I use this verse to remind me that things are out of my control. And no matter how much I want to worry and fret, it changes nothing. It doesn't help the situation it only makes me tired and more stressed. So stop worrying, be anxious for nothing.
When the bills pile up around me and I'm afraid I'm not going to have enough money to feed myself or my family, or I'm going to be tossed out on to the street and end up living in a cardboard box, (yes, I've stressed out this much before...) I rely on this verse in Matthew: Therefore I tell you do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on, is not life more than food and body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25)
He has always taken care of me, and even though my poor choices have put me in some pretty interesting predicaments, He has always provided for me. It may not have been a steak dinner, but, I have never gone without.
We have all been wounded in love before and He tells us to guard our hearts, but He also thinks that love is the greatest thing ever. So, do not give up on love, ever. And when it comes to finding your mate, only the deepest, truest love will do. And you will know when you find it because 1 John 4:18 tells us: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment and whosoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Do you love in fear or need or do you love in peace and perfection?
In Joshua 1:9, He has no time for foolishness he just puts it out there: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord is with you wherever you go.
Any questions? Didn't think so...
There will be nights that I lay awake wondering, half-planning, half-wishing what I want for my future. I fear that I won't see my children grow and raise their own families. I fear that I'll be stuck cutting hair for the rest of my life. I fear that I will not see my dreams fulfilled. I fear that my body or mind won't be strong enough to get me through the trials of my life. But then Matthew comes to my rescue again and in the 6th chapter and the 34th verse it reads: Do not be anxious about tomorrow for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is it's own trouble.
Leave tomorrow's worries for tomorrow... and then, be anxious for nothing! (Philippians 4:6)
Often we get caught up in feeling the need to defend ourselves. How many times have you been accused of something that you were totally innocent of? Or people would just talk about you behind your back without any cause at all? Or being bullied. You want to shout out and defend yourself, but sometimes things get so escalated that your voice falls on deaf ears. You are resigned to think that everyone will believe the lies. But the Bible says, fear not. You will have your day and the truth will come to the surface. Exodus 14:14 says: The Lord will fight for you and you only have to be silent.
A most popular and favorite passage to deal with your deepest, darkest fears comes from Psalms. The twenty-third Psalm is one of the most read and recognized and most comforting passage from the Bible. Here is the 4th verse: Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me.
It calms me every time.
Another fear that used to haunt me day in and day out was my past. I was not a good person. I was frozen with guilt when I would recall some of the hurtful and hateful things I did once upon a time. And even still, I struggle with letting my past go and forgiving myself but luckily Isaiah 43:1 reminds me that I am saved. I have been forgiven. All my sins have been washed away. It says: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name and you are Mine.
These verses have helped me and continue to help me in my times of trouble. You can take what you find useful and ignore the rest or go digging around for different ones that speak to you. I am not posting these to start any kind of debate or fall into a context argument, but to hopefully offer you peace in a not so peaceful world and bring up the point that if He took the time to tell us over 365 times to fear not, He must have wanted us to do it. I'm just helping you get started.
Trust, children of God, that He sees your fears and he knows what you are going through. Trust that He is faithful.
Fear not, for I am with you... Isaiah 41:10