Blessed and Highly Favored
Over the last year I have encountered an array of blessings. Healing, restoration of spirit, connection to fellowship and the new life breathed into my family are just a few. I have doubted more than I like to admit. I have whined, as you have read, again more than I like to admit. I have sat in the front row and observed God move in my life.
These have not been little changes. I am actually not referring to my healing. Yes, that was a huge event for me, but there are healings that exceed the physical. There are miracles that the heart can scarce request.
From Bitter to Better
Of all the personal changes I have experienced, deliverance from bitterness has been the most profound. I could give you dozens if not hundreds of reasons why I was bitter. Each of those reasons eventually go back to my relationship with God. Or better stated, a lack there of in my relationship with God.
There was a point when I blamed my first husband for every wrong turn early in life. It was wrong to lay all that on him. He did not have to push or pull very hard to shake my resolve. When he was unwilling to follow through with going to Southeastern Bible College to pursue the ministry…I did not put up much of a fight. I fought far more to spend time with friends than I did fighting for my faith.
The relationship and all the experiences surrounding it left me bitter and untrusting. Once the marriage dissolved, the trust issues were fanned with my job experience. Most every job I held was in male dominated fields. I have dealt with sexual harassment and my gender influencing whether I was promoted or not. Eventually, I began working in corrections. Once again, a female working in male dominated field at a male prison.
I only worked in the prison for a year. It served as my internship to complete my degree in Criminal Justice. It toughened me up. If you have see it in a movie or TV show, my husband and I have seen the real life version first hand working in the prison system. It is not for the faint of heart. Later, my husband would tell me that he hated everyday I worked at that facility. He knew the things I was exposed too and it made him sick that his wife had to go through that. He always supported me. Even before God’s grace and mercy were at the center of our marriage, Joe has been an amazing husband to me.
Then I worked as a probation officer. I will never regret being a probation officer. I learned more about interacting with people and about myself that any college could have ever exposed me too. I learned to really see the world from another person’s point of view. My snap judgements about people engaged in gang activity or addicted to various substances faded away. However, whatever was left in my nature that trusted people was destroyed as well. If you were kind to me, I suspected you were trying to manipulate me. The worst part of that scenario is that I had officers I had to watch out for even more so than the offenders I supervised.
Trust issues create relationship issued. I found myself questioning even the motives of my closest friends and family. These were people who had proven themselves time after time. I found myself not fully trusting even my husband. That suspicion of, well everyone, prevented me from making strong connections…even with my children. I reached a point where I really just did not like people. Being around people meant watching my back. I was so tired of watching my back. I did a lot of things all on my own.
If you have spent more than ten minutes with me, you know I am a social person. I love to talk, to learn and to enjoy the company of others. I was living a life contrary to my personality. God was not a focus in my life and I avoided people.
I heard something on the radio the other day, “God has never loved you more or less than he does right now.” We have all seen a church billboard or commercial with a tag line, “Distance from God? Guess who moved.” Both phrases are sort of catchy, but there is a great deal of truth in them. God loved me even when I was not in love with Him. He always wanted to be close to me…to care for me. I prevented it by my choices. Some of those choices were made with my eyes wide open, some I stumbled into blindly because my eyes were not on God. That distance, those bad choices all ended up with me in a bitter ball of rage.
Referring to myself as a bitter ball of rage makes me laugh now. I suspect most of the people I associate with now would not associate the word “rage” with me at all. There is a peace that cannot be described when you encounter Jesus and decide to stay in His presence.
Praise In The Good Times, Give Him Praise in Sorrow Too
There was a song my Momma sang when I was growing up. Part of the lyrics were, “Give Him praise in the good times, give Him praise in sorrow too…”. As a young person, I never got the “praise in sorrow too” part. How can I praise anyone or anything when my heart is breaking? Better still, WHY would I want to praise when I am in the pits of sorrow. First off…it’s not all about me.
How did I stop being bitter? Full of rage? Depressed? It starts from gratitude and praise. For years I struggled with the idea of praising God even when things were bad. Here is the thing, gratitude improves your attitude. When your attitude is in good shape your mind and body naturally improve in overall condition. God’s creation has structure. God created us so that when we, even non-believers, focus on gratitude it changes our entire mental state. Am I thankful for the bad things in my life that occur…no, I am not. The bad stuff is not from God so it is okay for me not to like it. What I am grateful for is that I do not have to face challenges and obstacles alone. I have a wonderful husband, family and dear friends who surround me with love and prayer, I am thankful for that. I have a son who is hungry for the move of God in his life and another son that is being ministered too constantly, despite his resistance. I am thankful for healing. When I was sick with bronchitis the other week, I kept thinking about how God healed me from my migraines. I am also grateful for the lessons I learned during the dark times of my life. God has used those to help others.
Don’t I worry? Of course I do…I am a planner. I plan for all sorts of things and when plans are not on course I tend to worry. I don’t worry like I once did. Most days when the worry or occasional fear creeps in, I am able to banish it through prayer or reading the word. I am not even sure I would call it worry anymore. I get concerned but I know God will take care of it. I have to remind myself in His time, not mine. God comes through when we trust Him. He is not holding out on you, but you could be stopping Him with your lack of faith and thankfulness. There are days when half my prayer is just over and over again saying “I trust you, Lord”. God does not need the repetition, but I do. Our flesh is the biggest obstacle we encounter in trusting God. Keep pushing. Keep praying. Keep Praising and you will see miraculous change.