Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My One True Desire

I have made a commitment to God, my husband, my family and myself that I wasn't going to go through this study quickly. I am going to take it slow, chew on it, meditate on it, apply it. I want to be real about it. I don't want to say I am going to do something about it and then just stuff in the back corner of my mind for "someday". I want it to be my heart beat that I am to first submit my heart to Christ and die daily, and secondly submit willingly to my husband and serve my family.

Because of that, I am still stuck on the introduction. I'll probably be there for a month! But I have to tell myself that is okay. I am one of those types of people who loves to make lists. And I love even more to mark things off of my list. I guess it gives me a some sense of control and accomplishment. But I don't want to add this study to my to-do list. I want it to BE my to-do list. I want my life to be about this one thing. I know that may sound extreme, but really I am a control freak who needs to let go.

One thing Sunny said in the introduction was to pray for the Holy Spirit's pruning in your life. But you know, I am like just about every other American Christian I know. I like to be comfortable. It doesn't feel good to go deeper because most of the time I don't like what is there and it hurts. I mean, really, really hurts.

My childhood was not the happiest of childhoods and I had huge resentment issues with my parents. I ran away from home on several occasions, was kicked out on probably even more occasions, lived with my grandparents for a time and on and on. It was rocky to say the least. But all of that led me to run away for good when I went to college. I just wanted to get away, far away. Little did I know it was that very decision that would bring me back home.

While at college I became a Christian after reading a required reading assignment from one of my classes. The reading assignment was Ephesians. You can read more about it here. But when I became a Christian I made a deal with God. No, actually it was more than that. I told God what I was NOT going to do. I told Him I was not going to forgive my father. Well, I bet you can guess what God thought of me telling Him what I was going to do (there's that control thing again, rearing it's ugly head).

Little by little, God began to work on my heart. He began to show me who my father was, where he had come from, the hurts he had endured. He opened my heart and eyes to the fact that he was just a single dad trying to do right by me the best way he knew how. Yes, those hurts I experienced were very real, but God took the sting away. And after a couple of years, I finally let all of that go. I mean I really let it go. Sometimes I share things with people if it gives them hope, but the hurt is just not there anymore.

I share all of this to tell another story. Even though I had forgiven my dad we still fought like crazy when we were together. It is true, we just don't see eye to eye on a lot of things. I had just come to the conclusion that I would have to keep putting my heart out there and keep forgiving. I really felt that was what God was asking me to do.

A couple of summers ago my dad and I got into this huge fight. He was here in town and I stormed out, (I am good at running away) taking my kids with me. Rick stayed behind to try to talk to my dad. He was defending me. As I stood outside of the door to my grandparent's house listening to them talk my dad had some not very kind words to say about me to my husband. Oh my, did those words sting. My dad said I was using my kids against him by taking them away and that I was being manipulative. He said he feared for my marriage because of the way I acted sometimes. You know why those words were so incredibly hurtful? Because they were true.

It took me all of about five minutes after we left to realize it and to say to Rick, "I can't just let this go." You see, I come from a family of yellers and I am a reformed yeller myself. It was amazing to me when I met Rick and his family that they didn't scream at each other. He helped to see something better. But my family would fight and scream and yell daily, and then act as if nothing ever happened. But I would hold onto these things on the inside and tear myself up. But this time was different. I decided to put a stop to all of that.

In an unprecedented move, I put down my pride, picked up the phone and called my dad. I told him that his words hurt, that I was an adult and I didn't appreciate being screamed at like that. I have always been very sensitive and for the first time I tried to make him understand how the yelling just hurt. Why couldn't we just talk like normal people? I am not an unreasonable person and usually if someone points out something I did wrong in a gentle way I listen and take it to heart. And I was in the wrong for sure. And you know what my dad said? He said, "I'm sorry". Those are two words I have never heard him say before.

He also said other things. We talked about some of the things that had happened in our past. You see, I had never told him I had forgiven him because I didn't think it was necessary. It was just a work that God had done in my heart and I just loved my dad. All of it was water under the bridge to me. It had been 12 years in the past when some of this stuff had happened. But Dad says to me, "But it's still right here for me, Lisa." Wow. That just broke my heart. I finally saw the forgiveness I needed. And you know what I said? I said, "I'm sorry." I had said it before, but it was different for some reason. I meant it before but I guess I never realized how much I had hurt him. I was a different person back then. That is not an excuse but I guess I figured since Jesus forgave me, then it was taken care of.

My dad said one more thing before he hung up. He said "I love you Lisa." Those were words rarely heard as well. And you know what? We have not had one single fight since that day. God has done something truly amazing. He has opened doors that I considered sealed shut. I had lost hope and faith that things could ever be right.

I share all of this because this is the awesome power of God at work in my life. And I know this is what happens when I submit. But it is so hard. There is so much unspoken hurt that comes to the surface when you allow him access to every little corner of your heart. But there is healing on the other side. And oh how beautiful that is. You walk through fire to get there, but you realize that the fire is what brought the healing. That is God's purifying work in the heart of one who lets go.
Deuteronomy 4: 35-36
35 You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God;
besides him there is no other.
36 From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you.
On earth he showed you his great fire,
and you heard his words from out of the fire.
Here is a quote Sunny shares with us in the introduction:
Fran Sciacca:
"A major distinction exists between the ancient marble-crafters and the God of eternity, however. They worked with lifeless stone, and what emerged was the product of their own skill and choice. But God depends upon us to hold His chisel and welcome the blows of His tools. A necessary cooperation exists between the Master and His work. We must submit to become what He so faithfully wills to form. Becoming like Jesus Christ must be at the center of our understanding of what it means to be a child of God on this side of eternity. And like the artisans of old, God's methods necessitate pain, the removal of what we might rely upon, and great amounts of time and patience....There's much within each of us that would implore the Master to quit the work, to let us be content as an unfinished piece. We are frail people living in formidable times. Pain, difficulty, suffering, loss, and rejection are regarded as enemies in our postmodern world. But in the hands of a loving Father, afflictions and difficulties are meant to be the agents of glorious change for those who submit to the work of the Master's hand."

I am not saying that I have mastered this by any means. This is just one example in my life. Too often I am way too prideful and caught up in myself and my own selfish desires to see what I really need. And that is for Him to prune me. So here is my prayer today:

Holy Spirit, prune me, refine me, shape me. Help me to be transformed by the renewing of my mind more and more into the likeness of my Savior. Allow me to submit my heart to your discipline, so I may share in your holiness and righteousness. May my life bear the fruit of your work in my heart. Make this my one true desire. Amen.

7 comments:

JesusRulzMe said...

Dearly beloved sister Lisa,

WOW! True peace, love, compassion and forgiveness as you said, "is a work of God" and I am eternally grateful that not only do I have that from the LORD, but b/c our Father does not play favorites, this "work" these gifts are offered to all who repent and trust in His Son, Jesus.

I too, come from a similar past. I'll go into it in detail some other time as it is much too long to share in a comment. :-)

But I wanted to encourage you dear sister and thank you for sharing your heart and mostly for your transparency....b/c then and only then, can we see right through you and see Who lives in you...Jesus Christ our Lord. And sister, I see Him well...in you!

With great love in our Savior,
Sunny

bethb said...

Lisa,

I have only heard one side of your childhood, now reading this side, I understand your pain, your feeling of being lost and used. You have used this to make you a better, stronger person, you have the one you can depend upon no matter how the rest treat you or accuse of you. Our Heavenly Father, I thank him every day for pruning my heart, mind, feelings and my temper. Yes, I have one of those,as Steve says up like a Roman candle down like a twinkler. I am going through a growing stage and working through some anger issues, hurt issues , trust issues not only within my immediate family but with some one on the outside. I too often have scripture go through my head, or songs pop up at the right time to help me through a difficult time. I too work on being truly submissive to our Father, then to Steve learning to put things in thier proper places and order and who//what comes first in my life. It is a long journey but through prayer and seeking His will I will make the necessary changes that will allow me to be totally submissive. I love you and thank you for sharing this Bible study with us your extended sisters in Christ.

Willow said...

Lisa, what an open heart you have, to share it so willingly with us. I could feel your hurt in the early part of your post and then I could feel the healing that came through. Your devotion to God and living your life HIS way, hard though that submission may be at times, is beautiful. I am so happy to be traveling this road with you!

Willow

jcdisciple said...

I just wanted you to know that I have similar story with my dad who is a recovering alcoholic. In fact, it was in July that I actually "showed" him that I had forgiven him and after that God began to break so many chains in our family and for me personally. I don't believe I would have ever been ready to learn about Biblical Submission to my husband until I submitted to the Lord's prompting to release my father. See my posts called "Spending Yourself" and "Yahweh Shalom Peace Face to Face" and "Dim eyes but not Dim Love"...I wrote about my dad in all of these.

Anyway, apparently we really are a lot alike and have a similar background. I'm pretty sure I will be able to pray for you effectively because I KNOW your struggles...at least I can relate to some of them, I'm sure.

JesusRulzMe said...

Hello wonderful sister,

I've got some "bloggy love" to share with you! Please stop by my personal blog to pick it up!

Bless you!
Sunny

E said...

Lisa,

I, too, remember telling God (out loud, even) what parts of my life He could not have, and it is no coincidence that He did what was necessary to turn my heart toward Him. And I am not surprised to find out His way is so much better!

I am so glad you have found a way to connect spiritually and Biblically with other women - what a blessing for you! You are so beautiful, and I thank God for you & your family.

Praying for you as you dig deeper into God's word,
Eileen

Rose said...

What a Journey.
God is faithful--on our behalf, and behalf of those we love, to be working all things together for good, just as he says he will, in his Word. Even though circumstances may seem to be shouting otherwise.
We are all here going through this with you. Sending you lots of Love and encouragment
Rose