Evening Ponderings

After several hours of clinching my hands in restlessness in the emergency room this morning, I began to cry. The pain finally overcame my will and I broke down. It was the same news I usually hear during my seldom trips to the emergency room for pain. The majority of the pain was from a flare but now I have additional issues that have no immediate treatment. I opted for the steroid injection and walked out in equal pain as when I walked in. My tears were more of frustration rather than my inability to handle the pain. I have learned to deal with chronic pain and I was frustrated because of my resistance to treatment. 

I just came off of Humira. The benefits were not out weighing the risks. Risk versus benefit is something I have heard often in the last nine years. The goal with my son’s anti-epileptic medication is to take the smallest dose with the best possible results and the benefits need to outweigh the risks. While thinking of my disappointment today, I thought about the numerous times I have experienced this same feeling when I weigh the benefits and risks associated with my own choices. Do I make reasonable choices concerning my life and relationships? Am I doing what is right in accordance with my beliefs, or am I acting in accordance with what is acceptable to the world? Should I put my needs before the needs of others and do I really need to be liked as much as I think I do? What will it really cost me?

My grandma has a big heart and like many of us, she has a desire to be liked by those around her, so it has been particularly hard for her since a close relative chose to terminate their relationship. Even after an apology, they chose not to forgive. It’s been years and she is still very hurt. Her son and husband (my uncle and grandfather) have both passed away and it hasn’t been enough of a reason for her estranged relative to heal these once very close relationships. If death didn’t make her relative chose to forgive and heal their once close relationship, what will?

I once believed that the worse case scenarios were rare, but life will eventually prove the contrary for us all. Bad things happen to everyone and they can happen more frequently than desired. Relationships erode to the point of disrepair, health deteriorates, promises aren’t kept, people will disappoint……. The only guarantee we have in life is the ability to control and change our own actions in situations, even those that are out of our control. Others will certainly remember how we react when life gets rough. What kind of person do our actions make us out to be and what kind of an imprint do our actions leave on the hearts of others? The best view of ourselves maybe through our relationships with others.

I don’t have a life conducive of healthy relationships. I have complexities others don’t and it takes a special person to remain patient enough with me to be my friend. Although I have few close relationships, I deeply value the ones I have. I know all too well how much a minute can change the course of life. I am thankful for today because I’m not guaranteed another. I have learned that the hard way. I lay awake thinking my baby boy could have a life threatening seizure when we are all asleep. I wonder how long my body will hold out when I am literally falling apart. I don’t understand why so many people choose to threaten a relationship over petty things. Each day is a gift and should be treated as such. I can’t understand why so many people can let the sun set on things that should be rectified.

Relationships are the medicine of life. There will be those who don’t value a relationship with you so you have to ask, are the side effects that come with relationships doing more harm than good? When it comes to my health, I have to consider how much I am willing to suffer for a desired result. In the end, it’s my body and I have to make the choices that are right for my health. I have to be willing to make changes to better my life, even if they are scary. It boils down to me. The only person I can control is me. I cannot always control the future but I can change the way I view it.

Fruitful change has come through the difficult circumstances and how I handle them is influenced by my faith, but it has been hard to handle each situation as I should during times of depression. Until I truly began making an effort to rely on the only thing that can promise real change, depression dictated. Once I began to discover how to live according to my own values and beliefs, the promises of peace came with it. My depression hasn’t disappeared, but I have more hope putting my faith in something other than myself. I was broken and unable to handle what I had been given. I was constantly overwhelmed by circumstances beyond my control, including the actions of others. I made a choice to pick up the yoke of the Lord so he could fulfill his promise to me in the book of Matthew, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

The Lord has went through great lengths to get my attention and I’m glad he has, because I realized I couldn’t change anyone but me and I needed to change! I began reading the Bible regularly and learned so much about myself in a short period of time. Maybe what I learned can help you too.

Life is too short to spend time hurting others with words. More often, making the right choices regarding what we say is a battle because falling into temptation is easy. Words said behind closed doors will eventually be brought into the light (“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be know.” Matthew 10:26) and a choice to pursue hurtful actions against others will cause harm to onself. The bible speaks candidly about the hurt that comes from words. He’s especially asking believers in the following verse not to bless him in worship and curse another, because we are speaking against others who were made in his image. It’s hurtful and not congruent with Christian behavior. 

“… but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness if God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” James 3: 8-10

More simply put, “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers…” James 4:11

Along with a venomous tongue, we ought not to do fall into additional temptation and judge one another. Judgement hurts relationships. By taking time to pass judgement, time is taken away from working on nurturing healthy and supportive relationships. Taking time to study the word and work on our own downfalls is a more productive use of time. We gain strength, learn how to live a fruitful life, and grow closer to God, who is the only one true judge. 

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7: 1-5. 

There is a clear warning about judgement in this verse, but it is still summed up  by helping another.

“..For in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice such things. We know that the judgement of God rightly falls on those who practice such things.” Romans 2:2

All can be summed up here, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned: forgive,and you will be forgiven, give, and it will be given to you.” Luke 6: 37-38. 

But even as I worked in this piece, I felt the anger and hurt in my heart toward those who have wronged me. I am reminded again of how this discovery is about me and my journey in obedience to God. 

“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full if mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3: 14-18. 

Change doesn’t happen overnight and I still worry about how I’m living my life and how I can truly let go of the anger and hurt brought on by the people and circumstances I cannot control. 

“… do not be anxious about your life… But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousnes, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6: 25, 33-34.

Obedience isn’t always easy, especially when he tells is not to be anxious but He is a God who understands the conflict taking place in the heart of man. 

And I cannot forget when I have failed at all things, God is forgiving and merciful and those who have true salvation are as well. The following footnote on Matthew 18: 21-35 summed up how salvation should change a sinner’s heart.

“The central points of the parable are: first, that the gift of salvation is immeasurably great and, second, that unless a person is comparably merciful to others, mercy has not had a saving effect upon him and will be liable to pay the consequences himself….. A transformed heart must result in a changed life that offers the same mercy and forgiveness as has been received from God. Someone who does not grant forgiveness to others shows that his own heart has not experienced 
God’s forgiveness.” Foote note on Matthew 18: 21-35 from ESV study bible by Crossway.

I forgive because he has changed my heart, I will not be fearful of those who hurt me or anxious about my life, because I trust in Him.

“..I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to he brought low, and I know hot to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4: 11-13

If you remember anything from this message remember this verse:
“So whatever you wish that others do to you, do also to them…” Matthew 7:12

*d*

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