When do you think contentment comes? Guys, today this hit me like a mac truck(sidebar- I have never understood this saying). At what point are you finally just.. okay with everything? When do you stop regretting past decisions, present decisions, and the decisions you are afraid that you are going to make?Better yet, when do you stop thinking about those mistakes. Or better yet- when do they stop becoming mistakes?
And WHY do I ask so many questions on these blogs? (It's a bad writing habit, I guess... I'm trying to keep you guys interested. Leave me alone!)
In the past hour especially the Lord has really convicted me on this. He keeps showing me how much regret and guilt I live with. Whenever something that I'm struggling with comes up in conversations, songs on the radio, or drenches my memories in a 24 hour period- I start to listen.
Trace says it all the time. "Why do you think so negatively about everything?" And it's true. I do. I think negatively all the time. I think negatively about my body image (she's so skinny, look at her legs!), my personality (Why am I such an introvert? Why am I so awkward? Why am I so self-centered? Why is it so uncomfortable for me to express my feelings?), and conversations I have with people (Did I say the right thing there? Ugh, no that was probably the WORST thing to say. Another person would have said something way better).
And its not only that I think negatively, I act on those negative thoughts. I often don't pursue things because I expect them to fail based off of past decisions that turned out badly. I wish I could practice what I preach.. but it's a lot easier said than done (two cliches in one sentence, like that?). I tell my middle school girls all the time that the past doesn't matter, "God can forgive anything!". Again, sometimes my actions make me think I don't really believe that.
They are to bring to the priest as a guilt offering
a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value.
In this way the priest will make atonement for them
for the wrong they have committed unintentionally
and they will be forgiven.
I had to leave this blog as a draft for a full week before I could come back and write it. Partly because I kept getting distracted every time I sat down to write it, and partly because I was done with dealing with it for a little. I have this tendency to just come to God and tell Him my problems and not actually listen to what He is trying to tell me. I feel better for a few days and then the same thing hits me again. I just really want to feel like "Yeah! Woo that's right, got that off my chest. Me and Jesus are cool. He loves it when I tell Him my troubles and then don't stick around to listen to what He has to say!"
I went to the back of my bible to the concordance and looked up "GUILT". This was one of the verses it gave me. So I thought, "Old Testament. Old school. Cool." At first I thought I couldn't take anything from it because it was about preparing a sacrifice. We don't have to do that anymore, though.
Oh, but wait. Why did they do that? They made sacrifices (male lambs specifically) to God to forgive them, because they were waiting for the lamb to come later that would take away everything they needed to be forgiven for.
Why don't we do that? Oh yeah, because we already had a lamb who came and covered everything. So if I let regret and guilt infiltrate my every thought, aren't I saying that I don't really believe in my God who I say saved the world from its sins? It's almost like I tell Jesus, "No, it's okay. I can handle it! I'll take it back from you. Let me put this on my own shoulders, Jesus. I can take care of it better than you can."
This might be a gross metaphor, but it's the only one that I can see that really fits. It's kinda like when a cow eats. It swallows, and then it throws it back up and eats it again. Following me? When I keep reliving these mistakes it's like I'm the cow that keeps throwing it back up, just so that I can deal with it again. I let God have it momentarily, but then I want it back.
Another thing that stood out to me in this verse was that this ram that the people offered didn't only forgive the sins they knew they committed, but it also forgives their unintentional sins. This is something else I had never thought about. These mistakes that I made so long ago were unintentional. Mistakes can be unintentional for two reasons:
1) They can be unintentional because at the time you thought you were doing something that was good. Something that you thought would make you happy. You can't really go on hating yourself for something you did when you only thought you were doing good.
2) There is another way that sin can be unintentional. I think this one most applies to what I have been dealing with: If sin was committed, and you knew at the time that you were in the wrong. You can know that you are in the wrong, but if you were at a point in your life where you didn't know the Lord, it is a whole different subject. Oh, you can still have a conscience when you don't know the Lord. Believe me. Because I felt bad while I was doing these things. But the fact that I couldn't wrap my mind around a God who loves me unconditionally, and had already taken care of the bad things in my life- I did them anyway. I was so broken and unwilling to mend myself, that there was no way I was going to be able to comprehend God telling me why He didn't want me to do these things. I understood that He didn't want me to do them, but I didn't understand that He didn't want me to do these things because He just wanted to protect me.
Let Him protect you. Don't try and take that back from Him. He wants you to let Him.
Anna waited for 84 years to meet Jesus. Anna held out for 84 years for God. But actually, she didn't really "hold out". Anna saw how sufficient God's promise was, and so she waited. Anna waited 84 years to see Jesus. Anna waited 84 years because she KNEW that God was going to come through.While all of Anna's girl friends and women relatives were getting married, making babies, raising a family... Anna waited. That's a humble woman right there.
I just imagine people constantly questioning her.
"Why haven't you gotten remarried?"
"What was this 'quest' you feel like God has put on you?"
"What value can you feel if you haven't remarried and had children by now?"
"After all, isn't that what a women's role is?"
And then to eachother I imagine them saying,
"Silly Anna. She thinks she can know what God has in store?"
"Stupid Anna. She contributes nothing to society; all because she only wants to spend her time in prayer to a God who doesn't listen to the idle minds of women."
What a humble woman. Not only because she took this criticism I have imagined, but because she denied what her culture thought "made you a woman".
Pride has been hitting me hard lately. I've realized that pride isn't the same thing I always thought it was. I always thought that pride was the same thing as conceit. But then I started to understand that pride can be one of the greatest strongholds that we have without realizing it. Pride can be the opposite of conceit.
Pride can be scared to go in the direction you know God is pushing you. Okay, come on guys. Stop acting dumb. You know when you feel God push you. You know the basics of what God wants from you. It absolutely does not matter how little God is actually incorporated in your life, you have a yearning (that God put inside of you) to want more for yourself. Does that mean giving up a job? Does that mean changing your major? Does that mean changing your friend group? Are you feeling tugged yet? Do you identify with any of these things? Maybe something not on this list just popped into your head?
And you’re still hesitant? Pride check.
Pride can be having a low self esteem. Girls spend so much time putting themselves down. Prideful? Noooooo. Actually, yes. Yes it is. How much time do we spend in the mirror every day criticizing ourselves? How much time does that mean we are focusing on ourselves? And all the time we are thinking about what people think about us (which are probably most if not all false)? We obsess over ourselves.
Identify with this, maybe? Pride check.
Pride can be admitting that you have a problem. For example, porn. Half of the struggle with pornography is not wanting to admit that there is an actual addiction there. There is something addicting about looking at things you know are bad on the internet. At first, you felt guilty. Now, it gets easier every time. You have a problem. Admitting that to a friend or mentor is one of the hardest things, but also the most humbling. Put away your pride for a second. Tell someone you trust what you are struggling with. Having an honest conversation with someone about the things you are most ashamed of shows humbleness.
See how pride sneaks up on us? “I don’t boast about myself. I’m good!” Pay a little closer attention to yourself. How much pride do we have to put aside to see the things that God wants to give us? Because He is a loving God who does want to give us those things that He wants for us. But He needs us to get rid of some stuff first. And the more you think about the things that God is asking us to give up, the more you see that all of those things boil down to Pride.