Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Confidence and Conviction

No one likes conflict, but I wanted to get it over with.
The time had come.  
I'd made my plans, planned carefully, and resolved to do this the right way.

I wrote an appropriate and respectful correspondence and fully anticipated getting a respectful reply.
Except that I didn't.

What I got was someone who, instead of being professional, uttered insults thinly veiled in sugary sweet flattery - the kind you know right away don't contain an ounce of sincerity.

What I got, was someone well versed in twisting words, twisting MY words into complete fallacies.

What I did in response was nothing.

I decided not to argue so I sat there and I took it.  I acknowledged that I heard what she was saying.  I even thanked her for her time and advice (though of course, I hadn't solicited it).

You see, I believe in life, you have to pick your battles.  This wasn't a competition, after all -  not a win/lose situation.  So I thought...until I walked away feeling like a loser. 

A conversation that I walked into with confidence, despite my dread, had just taken a turn for the worse.  I'd let someone else steal that confidence. 
I was doubting my decision.

My resolve to do things the right way - the way I felt convicted to carry them out - had been completely overridden.  This decision that was best for me, my family, and everyone involved had just been stomped all over.

A person who had never taken the time to get to know me, had just conquered my words with hers.  She chose to use flowery words and sort-of-compliments to disguise the message that really intended to demoralize me and any plans I thought I'd made.

In a recent Bible Study, I'd been reading and studying about "The Best Yes; Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands."  The goal being to determine the difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God.  I loved this study for so many reasons! I dog-eared almost every other page as I was reading it...underlined some words in pencil...highlighted others in yellow.  

One section that spoke volumes to me, was this:

*How do I learn not to let the awkward disappointments of others keep me from my Best Yes appointments with God?
     "It's not a matter of gaining more confidence.  It's a matter of being more certain of our convictions.  Confidence is being more certain of our abilities.  Conviction is being more certain of God's instructions.
     I'm not talking about the way we sometimes use the word conviction as a verb - I'm convicted to wear longer shorts or I'm convicted to have more consistent quiet times. The kind of conviction I'm referring to is a noun - a firm, foundational belief."

And shortly after, she references Joshua 1:7-9, NIV
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

You see,  I'd come to that conversation both confident and convicted.  The conviction came first, actually.  A firm, foundational belief that God had intended for me to make this change for myself and my family.  And though I was confident in that conviction and my abilities to convey that conviction, I almost lost them both.

Because I chose not to speak up {in my mind, I asked, what was it going to prove anyway?}, I almost let her words dismantle both my confidence and my conviction in a few short minutes.
Not only that, I heard her speak down to me and say things about me that simply weren't true.  And I almost believed her.

I had to spend some time that afternoon with a dear friend who told me, honestly, what I already knew - that this person was wrong about me and she had no right to say those things to me.
I had to spend some time reminding myself who I was and whose I was.

I reminded myself over and over that I am a child of God.  That I know the truth about myself and my reasons and that her words were not the truth.  I reminded myself of the process I used to arrive at my convictions and then my confidence about my convictions.  

I found these verses helpful and I hope you will too:

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 54:17 (NIV) 
no weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)  
The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

The next time you find yourself feeling like a loser, beat up, or stomped on, remind yourself WHO you are and WHOSE you are.  

HE will strengthen
 you, help you, and uphold you with His righteous hand.  

YOUR heritage is that no weapon formed against you will prevail and that you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
HE, the Lord, a mighty warrior, is with YOU. He takes great delight in YOU and rejoices over YOU with singing!

Let those words sink in, friends! 
HE rejoices over you with singing!

Isn't that an amazing love? 
In Christ, you and I are victors, champions, and raised up despite what anyone else says about us.
Be convicted of that and be confident in it.

{*paraphrased and excerpted from Lysa TerKeurst's "The Best Yes," page 147-148}

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Voice of Truth {and keeping my mouth shut}

I am struggling so much right now with feeling like the biggest fraud that's ever walked the face of the earth.

In this season that I'm in, I am constantly overwhelmed with the need to talk to someone - anyone - who will listen about some upcoming changes that are coming to my life.  By default, these changes will be also be bringing changes to a lot of people in my life.  I think know some of them aren't going to like change very much.

The hardest part of my current journey with God is that I have to keep my mouth shut.
During the summer of hard prayer, He asked me to make a tough decision.
Few times in my life, have I had to make such a decision.  One that it so incredibly hard, so incredibly painful, and so full of letting go of something I just don't want to let go of.
Yet, at the same time, I have a peace about this decision that I've never known before.

He asked me to give up - let go - of something I love.  I am grappling with the disappointment to myself and the disappointment I anticipate from others.

He asked me to trust Him - His timing, His way, that this would work for my good and His glory.

He asked me to be patient.

AND he asked me to keep it to myself for now.  I even thought I had a timeline figured out and He said, "wait a little longer."

Sometimes I wonder if there is anything else He can ask of me, and then I quickly remind myself there certainly is! 

And somewhere within me, there is the ability to carry out His plan for my life and this situation, because I firmly believe He wouldn't ask me if I wasn't able.

I know that I can do it, but some days it just feels impossible.

Especially in light of my quest the past few years to become more transparent, open, and real with the people in my life.  Hiding anything or keeping anything secret just feels like 3 steps backwards.
I know it's necessary, but that doesn't make it easy.

I've been in a rather appropriate bible study this Fall - Lysa Terkeurst's "The Best Yes." It has been really helpful throughout this process and so I keep going back to certain passages and quotes.
If you've never read the book, check it out.  It's an easy read and her writing style makes you want to not put it down until you finish.

As difficult as this time in my life is, it reminds me why I need grace so much and that I should readily give grace to others for the same reasons.  It also helps me remember to give myself grace.

I have to say, I can't see the BIG picture yet.  I do have confidence, however, that what He's going to do in my life is working for my good.  If you've never had the opportunity to experience this journey, I really hope you do.  
I'll warn you that it's hard, but even along the way, I can already see it's worth it. 

Nothing  - no problem, person, or period of struggle  - is bigger than my God.