Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I'm learning

It seems to be a common two-word statement out of my mouth these days: "I'm learning." I've spent the (almost) last year working in (almost) full-time ministry work and I guess I thought I'd just all of a sudden know how to navigate the ups, downs, conversations, challenges, changes with ease and grace.

But, uh, yep - I was a bit full of it.

In a way, it's good that I'm learning this only a year into the journey... some go their whole lives trying to juggle everything, fit themselves into a thousand tiny little boxes of who and what they are supposed to be, mostly according to the people they lead. 

Thanks to the words of a wise friend, I am moving forward in the journey of realizing that my job description is summed up in a few words: bending only to Him and His voice. That's what I'm called to. My job is to fall so fully in love with my Father, to be loved by Him as I am, and allow Him to transform me more and more into "Ellie", and by doing so, releasing Him to transform those around me too. Here are a few things I'm learning about myself on this journey:

I've got a heart to please. What I'm learning is that He formed this aspect of my personality for His glory, not mine. I naturally want to please others and fit myself inside all their expectations, so that at the end of the day I can rest easy knowing that I am well liked, loved, appreciated. Honestly, it has never been about the good of others - it has been for my benefit. Jesus showed this to me the other day: 
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” -Romans 15:1-3
So that's where the dysfunction manifests itself: selfishness. And the irony of all of this is that I say I'm a people pleaser, but actually, I'm me-pleaser. But I'm so glad He is my example... "He did not please himself..." (vs. 3). 

I need to take time to rest. My passion dies when I'm tired. My compassion dies when I'm tired. I lose my joy when I'm tired. But I also, far too often, listen more to the taskmasters in my head than to Jesus. Jesus, calling me to come and just be with Him for a while. To slow down, take some time to breathe, change things up, have fun creating something I enjoy. I'm learning to practice this: tonight, I'm going home and making some of Granny's Tea Biscuits (courtesy of Ann Voskamp's Granny), just for fun.

Gratitude, in all circumstances. It really works. Two Octobers ago, I began my own gratitude journal. You've seen some of my list - the recording of all these gifts, given freely to me, the thousand ways He loves. I'm learning to really believe it is true: He loves me, adores me, lavishly. But even so, some days I just find it such a chore to open that journal of mine. These are usually the days I end up seeing everything through grey-coloured glasses. Today was one of those days. I struggle so much with desiring to do that which is for my own good. I'm a stubborn and prideful creature. So I write this, in hope, that I would continue to learn to be obedient:

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” (Ps 100:4) 
“You are my God, and I will give you thanks” (Ps 118:28)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil 4:6)
“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” (2 Cor 4:15)
So, all of this is to say... yep, I'm learning.