What truly makes a person happy?
I think too often we come into the church with these expectations of perfection. When people are tired of the world and all it’s drama, they want something different!
The church is filled with people. Many people. People with issues. Some with BIG issues. Some are working on their issues and some haven’t realized they have issues. My point is, we can’t control other people’s actions. I’ve learned in my short 9 years serving God that we can often get offended, feel rejected, even mistreated, feel under appreciated and feel out of place in the church. But, on the other end, we can also be embraced, receive plenty of love, be appreciated and feel like you belong. Exactly as God intended the church to be!
I naively stepped into the church with expectations that I wouldn’t ever feel ugly emotions that I felt when I was in the world, (i.e jealousy, hatred, rejection, un-forgiveness etc.). To my surprise, I found that and much more. I couldn’t believe that there were girls (and guys) who would intentionally do things to cause trouble for others or even worse would do things they had just preached over the pulpit that we “shouldn’t” do. It blew my mind!
I found myself in a place, where I began to have issues with certain people. I was filled with frustration and anger. Church no longer felt like church to me, you know; a safe place. It felt like I was back in high school and competing to be one at the top. Constantly feeling the need to prove myself.
Too often we come naively thinking that church makes our life easier and when things go wrong, we often fight God and somehow blame Him for the actions of others. Even worse, because of unresolved issues, we can become resentful towards the church, God, Pastors and Christians all together. We hold issues against people and before you know it – we are in bondage and we don’t even know it. And all the while satan is behind most of it; spewing lies and feeding more lies to get you to believe that you are right and somehow everyone else is wrong. If we’re not careful slandering takes place, groups form and we’ve become separated from everyone else.
I’m thankful to God that when my husband and I were friends, he was a man of integrity. He practiced what he preached and he even taught me to do the same. He taught me to honor leadership and live according to what God’s word tells us. Every misunderstanding I had, he taught me to take it to the feet of Jesus. My safe circle consisted of 2 women, who would tell me the TRUTH, even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear, and they would pray with and for me.
Own Your Mistakes
If you have whole-heartedly accepted Jesus into your heart, then you believe that we are sinners in need of a Savior. If you believe you are a sinner, then you acknowledge we need help. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us His truth. Because we are constantly in battle with our flesh, we war with decisions of what is right and wrong. Not all things that seem good to us, are good. The fruit that Eve held in her hand “seemed good” [Genesis 3:6-13]. It’s imperative that we learn to discern the truthful words the Holy Spirit is speaking to us. When we are young in our faith we will make mistakes (I’ve made plenty). We learn through our mistakes by acknowledging our part. We must own up to things that brought about hurtful issues in church.
When we own our part of any issues, it shows maturity. Even if you believe a person is wholly responsible for the issues and you feel just for your actions – but you can admit to adding to it, there is such a supernatural thing that takes place in your heart. It’s unexplainable! Not all people will want to own up to their actions, or be the first to say “I was wrong”, but when you are dedicated to hearing from the Holy Spirt, you are compelled to do what is right! If someone else isn’t doing it, I can assure you that Jesus is interceding for YOU to step up to the plate and be the first. Why??? Because, when we can do this, we are imitating what we believe Jesus has done for us on that cross.
Practice What You Preach
There was an incident I experienced about a year ago. My oldest daughter sat in the fellowship area at the church. There were 2 women who had chose to leave the church earlier that year and came back for a fund raiser the church had that day. Not knowing my daughter was sitting there, one woman held my youngest son. My son has this bump on his right side, just under his arm, that we have been praying and believing that it would be removed without any kind of surgery. As this woman was holding my son, she felt the bump and told the other woman to feel it. (This other girl was someone I had issues with in the past. She left the church about a year before that, and decided that day that she would return). As the woman, told her to feel the bump on my son, she said “eww no! I’m taking my sons away from him.” Grabbed her 2 boys and ran away. As my daughter heard all this, she was dismayed, and ran to tell me what she had heard.
At that moment, as she told me everything, I felt sick to my stomach and rage in my heart. I was conflicted with confronting this girl about what she said, or bringing this issue to the pastors. I was soo upset and hurt at the same time. I told my husband what happened and we both agreed we would take this issue straight to throne of God.
We both decided that we would let it go and give it over to God. Soo much hurt and anger as I prayed for Gods divine touch. I wanted soo badly to take things into my own hands. I felt I had every right to be upset! This wasn’t a young girl who said this, it was a grown woman with children. As each day passed I prayed and prayed for God to take those ugly feelings of hate in my heart. I actually felt hate in my heart. I felt justified to feel the way I did. She said this about my son! A child.
There, I was at church on Wednesday and Sunday with a “faith” smile. I even went as far as hugging her. I believe many would ask why; Why did I go out of my way to hug a girl I knew I didn’t like. The reason I did that, was because I knew, if I kept my distance from her, I would fester more negative feelings toward her.
The week before this incident, I was asked to speak to the woman at our Women’s Service. I spoke on the fierce love of God. I reminded the women of Gods fierce love for us, and how He sent His Son to die for us. If I believed that Gods love for us is fierce, then I have to believe that Gods love for this woman is just as fierce for her as it is for me. And I had to believe that He would make good of this situation. If not by her choice, then at least by my choice.
UN-FORGIVENESS LEADS TO THE ABSENCE OF JOY
If I am honest with myself, I can relate to Jonah. After preaching salvation to the wicked, many of those people turned their hearts to God. And after all that, rather than celebrating God’s mercy, Jonah was upset. He went away alone and sat under a plant sulking in his own bitterness. Jonah had his own idea of Gods judgement [Jonah 4:1-6].
We can be that way as well. We can create these ideas in our hearts and minds of how God should judge because of what others have done to us. You know who ends up suffering from that kind of thinking – we do. If we don’t allow ourselves to be free from bitterness, that bitterness prevents us from experiencing the fullness of a joy-filled life, that Jesus offers us.
“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
Ephesians 3:19 NLT
MERCY = undeserved kindness.
I truly know how much God has forgiven me for. I know how much I NEED The Lords mercy. How could I expect God to forgive me, and not do the same to someone else in return.
Friend, we are called to be Christ-like. When we truly believe with our whole heart that Jesus gave His life for OUR sins, we really understand what we’ve been forgiven from. In my desire to be Christ-like, I have experienced something unexplainable take over my heart. In my stony, stubborn heart, God replaced it with a tender responsive heart as He put His Spirit inside me [Ezekiel 36:26,27].
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalms 23:5-6 NASB
The Lord prepares the table before our enemies (i.e anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, judgment, jealousies).
My cup overflows with love, forgiveness, mercy and grace.
You have a choice. Have you ever sat back, and thought about that powerful statement. In this ever evolving world, that our God has created, we have been given a choice. God gives us free will. He gives us the option to choose yes or no. Yes I believe. No I won’t. Yes, I’ll forgive. I’ll choose to hold onto reason, not to forgive.
Joy is the difference-maker in the life of a believer.
When you hold both tragedy and joy in one hand it invites restoration.
There were so many negative issues I experienced through one person. But you know what! I choose to take up my cross daily. I lay those issues at the feet of Jesus daily. I trust that Jesus will make ALL things new. And that means He’ll give me a new heart daily to receive His mercy and return it back to those who have wronged me. And in that, I’m able to receive His abundant joy. And it overflows in my life.
Let me encourage you that nothing goes unnoticed to our God. If you desire true healing no matter the cost, I can assure you that God will grant you what you have asked. Sometimes to get to the healing, we have to overcome painful obstacles. God wants us to trust Him, even when things seem soo wrong. In our desire to fulfill Gods plan in our lives, we stayed in a painful place for a long time, until the Lord made the way to bring us to a safe place. God intended the churches to be a safe place for people to be restored. Where people can thrive in the gifts that God has placed inside of them. We are now in that place! Hallelujah!
If you want to be happy, true happiness comes with being content in your relationship with God, His Son and the ever so present help of His Holy Spirit, who work together as ONE, on our behalf to be one with Him.
This year is coming to an end. Don’t allow the enemy or yourself, to rob you from true peace, true healing and TRUE HAPPINESS. Choose joy. Choose forgiveness. Choose love, even when we strongly believe someone is unworthy of it. Allow the Holy Spirit to make you NEW! Forgive, because God has forgiven you!
Rest in Him friend,