How blessed we are to have friends who lift us up, who speak truth to us, who listen, give advice, encouragement and their constant prayers. This is richness; this is true treasure to have such wonderful women in your life.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Don't Just "Be Yourself"

Whenever I go to visit my sister, Joni, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I always see the same deer when out for walks around her home.  You are probably asking yourself:  "How in the world can Cherri pick this ONE deer out from the rest of the herd that hangs around Joni's neighborhood?"  Good question.  But it is really quite easy.  This deer is a buck who has a very specific antler deformity.  One of his antlers is normal and the other grows down alongside his face.  He is absolutely unmistakable.  There is another buck who is just as unmistakable.  This big guy is HUGE with a rack on his head that is absolutely magnificent.  My little droopy-horned guy survives year to year because he lives in the seemingly perfect environment of Joni's golf course neighborhood.  He doesn't live in the "real" world because, truth is...he wouldn't survive.  That big guy, well, I don't see him quite as often because he has more freedom.  He can survive outside of the unrealistic, limited deer world of the golf course.  

This morning I read Melissa's essay on "Perfection, Part Two," in our James Bible study.  I always have a highlighter handy when I read pretty much anything, but especially when I am in a Bible Study.  As I read her thoughts on perfection, I nearly highlighted the entire thing!  But one point she made spoke to me above all the others.  In fact, I sat and really pondered it.  She hit on something not spoken about very often.  

Melissa explains that James's use of the word "perfection" is more accurately translated "wholeness."  I'll let you read her reasons behind believing this as the more fitting meaning for the word yourself.  She does make a lot of good points and backs them up with Scripture convincingly.  What I want to get to is this life tweaking thought: (I am going to quote Douglas Moo from Melissa's essay inserting my name for "one" so that it is a bit more clear)  Here goes:  

"Wholeness cannot be found simply by accepting whatever [Cherri] is in [Cherri's] disordered and distracted existence.  Wholeness is a goal towards which [Cherri] can move only in relation to the centre [Jesus] which is already whole and from which [Cherri] can gain wholeness.  This means moving in one direction rather than others.  It means rejecting values and behavior which are inconsistent with the goal...The quest for wholeness is important today because it responds to another cultural trend, which accepts and even celebrates the fragmentation of life in the name of openness and diversity."  

OH MY GOSH!   Do you hear the truth in this statement????  What I see (and I would love to hear your thoughts on this) is we have an enemy who has made our brokenness something that is our identity and even something to be proud of or, at the least, make excuses for, but certainly not something we can change.  We accept ourselves as "who we are" and many times think that is a good thing.  We can even redefine ourselves as "quirky" and make it cute.  Maybe it could look something like this:

I am a person who speaks their mind...that's just the way I am.
I have a entire family has's just who we are.
I am naturally shy...I just don't feel comfortable around's my temperament.
I'm scattered and disorganized...always have been.
I'm insecure and fearful...I can't help it.
I'm a worrier...I came from a long line of worriers.
I drive like a lunatic...I'm just hyper like that.
I'm a perfectionist...I can't help myself.
I came from a place of I hoard.
I've been hurt in the I don't trust anyone.
I am opinionated...and everyone has a right to my opinion:)

The list could go on and on.  

Do you think that sometimes we might even put all our brokenness out there and in essence say:  "This is me.  Deal with it!" or  "Prove that you love me by accepting all my woundedness EVEN IF it wounds you."

We live in a culture that constantly tells us to "Be yourself."  It's a kind of mindless mantra that makes it ok for us to stay as wounded and broken as we are and feel satisfied...but not really.  Deep down we are miserable just "being ourselves."  Satan, our enemy...let me say that again...Satan, OUR ENEMY, the one who hates us with a passion wants us to stay in that place of believing the lie.  He does not want you to move "toward the centre [Jesus]."  Nope, what his entire existence is powered toward is convincing you NOT to gain the freedom, healing from your brokenness will bring.  Instead, we let him define who we are.  We let someone who hates us define us!  He is a jailer who locks us in a prison of lying thoughts, each negative, self-absorbed thought a bar seemingly surrounding us.  But for crying out loud, girls, we pound on the bars while THE DOOR IS OPEN!  

I am so grateful for the good news that I am not "stuck with myself."  We can move toward Jesus...toward wholeness.  He stands at the open door waiting for us to take that first step out.  Isn't there sweet relief in that?  It makes me smile just with the thought.  There is a be like speak like Him...react like like He loves....and live freer...lovelier...sweeter...with purpose, peace, grace and mercy.  I can live in process of healing from "who I am"...the daughter of an alcoholic and all that label in life defines me as.  I can live in process of healing from insecurities, past mistakes, and even inborn sinful tendencies of temperament and personality.  Each time I reject even one of the continuing barrage of lies bombarding me from this world I live in, it takes me closer to wholeness, adds to me more peace and definitely more freedom.

Sometimes we are much like a droopy antlered deer bumping into all the other droopy antlered deer around us.  We have no idea we could live better without the handicaps we embrace as our identity.  We have a feeling there is more noble way because we can actually see others living it, but we think that's for them, not for us.  We content ourselves with feeling "special" about our handicap and stay put.  We stay on the golf course not knowing there are beautiful heights we could be experiencing.   

The world is telling us to be "unique," to be "special," to be "different," to "stand out from all the rest," "to reject any semblance  of conformity."  How ironic is it that all of these are truths skewed by a liar.  We ARE unique, special, and different.  God has placed incredible value on each of us, created us so uniquely...We know this, don't we?  We SHOULD stand out from the rest and definitely reject conformity.   We are to reject conformity to this world and instead conform our image to Christ.  We are supposed to stand out from the rest..."like a light on a hill."  In our parenting class we tell our parents that each of their children is unique in looks, temperament and personality, but when it comes to character, there is a standard set forth by God in His Word we should all "look like."  

Only with Jesus do we retain all that is unique in ourselves in such a way that it brings glory to Him and peace, blessing and wholeness to us.  

Love and wholeness, to you, my friends...


Monday, March 5, 2012

Can I Have a Do Over?

I sit here this afternoon and all is quiet.  Even my puppy, Livvie, who keeps me constantly on my toes these days is sound asleep under my chair as I type.  The day is beautiful, warm and wind free...It is lovely.  I cannot say the same about this past week or myself, that's for sure.  This week my emotions swung from anger to sadness to disappointment to just plain depression.  Nothing brings to the surface all the sin in my heart like the emotions I have just listed.  I got angry this week at a family member, and as soon as the disbelief wore off, which only took a moment, I let the words tumble angry word on top of another.  In that moment I felt justified.  I made sure that I called a couple of other family members so they could join the anger parade with me.  Sadly, I was successful.  Nothing is as contagious as talking about another with all the venom words can produce.  Toxic.  

God has had an ongoing conversation with me for heaven only knows how long about the words I use.  I love words...reading them, writing them, saying them, and  listening to them.  They are also my biggest weakness.  I have had some real victories in the area of my mouth, but this week was not one of them...not by a long shot.  I knew something was wrong the minute they left my mouth.  You can't be in Bible study everyday and not feel the presence of the Holy Spirit shaking His head inside your heart.  But in that moment, my anger trumped everything...common sense, self-control, every Bible study I have ever taken and even the Holy Spirit Himself.  I wanted to gather some  "righteously angry" people around me.  Note to self:  If you feel it necessary to inflame others to your cause, there is nothing "righteous" about your anger.  So let's fast-forward about 24 hours...

The next morning I woke up and did my Bible study as usual having not the least expectation that I was in for a "holy spanking."  The words that brought the "paddle" from the closet were:  "Please read James 3:13-18, then write the segment in the back of the book."  Let me refresh your memory...

"Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.  But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  Such 'wisdom' does not come down from heaven but is earthy, unspiritual, of the devil.  For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.  (Here is where the swats began for this girl)  But wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace, raise a harvest of righteousness."  

I have a younger brother who is in a rehab facility who actually handled the news far better than I did.  When I called to talk with him, he told me he already knew but that he had fought the desire to call around to give everyone the bad news.  He said he decided to go into his room and pray, so for the past hour and a half he had been praying about this situation...until I called.  I hadn't prayed yet, just reacted...badly.  The more I think about my brother's reaction, the more I am humbled by it.  He reacted with wisdom.  I did not.

Yesterday was my birthday.  I am now fifty-five years old.  Old enough to get a discount at Denny's and Kohl's.  Old enough in the Lord to know better.  My sweet husband tried to give me a wonderful birthday, but I was in a bit of a depression.  I was so disappointed in myself.  That morning I had read Melissa's essay on "Wisdom and Gentleness" and saw a reflection of my own lack of gentleness and wisdom.  I so wanted a "do-over."  Still do.  Though that is not possible, what is possible is to remember this lesson for the moments in the future that will come...and I know they will come.  

I am changing.  I know I am.  I see the difference from the person I once was.  But how I wish I could live in a vacuum until I was perfected so that others would not be affected by my sin!  I pray that the next time my emotions rise unexpectedly to the surface I will be able to call on the wisdom that is RIGHT HERE within me and then choose His way rather than my own.  

Years ago when I did my very first women's Bible study, Peter walked in at the end of my study time.  I remember looking up at him and saying:  "This study is KILLING me!"  Now I hope it is true.

 Love to you my friends...