After some more messiness this week in relationships, I really have a head full of questions and thoughts. I so desperately want to love people.... but I can't just make myself love people more. I've tried. That type of love always has a self motive in there. It's not pure even if it looks pure. I know it in my heart.... and over time it will show in the way I've let resentment built up or critical spirit or just when things get tough. If we are not loving for the Lord and just being the funnel.... our love is not pure. It is selfish love. Everything man does really has self motive in it somewhere.... except when they are Spirit full and Spirit lead and focused on the Lord.
So here's some bullets of where my thoughts are in this love process:
- How can I care deeply for others... not to be mistaken for... caring what others think about me?
- Why do I care so much what others think of me?? I believe He has shown me that answer is two-fold.
- 1. I am very social & a people person. Some personalities more than others enjoy people & interactions. People are my idols in many ways.
- 2. I have a lot of growth needed in seeing myself as God sees me. My twisted self image needs a lot of healing. He needs to change my thinking & heart to see myself as He sees me. I know this so clearly. I *know* so deeply that I need to be nourished by the Lord and find my fulfillment, value, affirmation, admiration, love from Him above all else. I know He will use others in that process as well, but I need to be nourished by Him first so much more. Knowing how He sees me and loves me is the key to this. I so desperately want to grow closer to Him and know His love. For so many reasons...but being able to be free from needing attention from others is a huge reason.
- 3. I want to be a good witness and point others to Christ. I care deeply about the messages I send in my words & actions. I do very much feel God's call on my life to positively impact others for Him. I accepted that spiritual inheritance passed to me from my grandma when I surrendered to Him and felt Him passing on the torch that grandma had carried
- Matthew 6:19-20 has always stuck with me and I've always taken it to mean to treasure what will last for eternity...meaning people...not things. I see now that it probably refers to all things eternal. Closeness with the Lord, spiritual blessings, rewards in heaven & people, too. I've always desired to care more about people than anything else on earth.... and I think that is a gift from the Lord.... but as usual, the enemy (or my thinking) just takes a small piece of truth, twists it a tiny bit and takes it to the extreme. So I'm left trying to store up people (I don't even mean numbers but just planting good seeds in people).... without really truly surrendering to God's will or God's way or God's time. That's a lot of self. Which means, I am really acting like this is my work and not His. Ouch. I know He will use me.... but not until I am convinced HE builds His Church and it's His work in me that works. I'm just the tool in His hands. When there is so much self... that means I am so very dependent on how people are responding to my seeds which shows itself in caring too much what people think about me.
- So the next layer of this is that at the root of it all... my love for others is mostly just self focused a huge portion of the time. I don't love because I am so full of love and I just want to love others. Mostly, I love people for a result (people feel loved, good, special....so the result is my seeds worked, I was effective. People see something good in me and admire me...hopefully that will lead me being able to tell them about Christ without hesitation).
- Wow, I just realized this all boils back down again to me trying to perform for the Lord. I am trying to earn His grace and favor. I don't feel valued unless I have purpose and am producing results. Yet, time and time again, He has shown me that He loves me... "just because". I am valuable, because I am His. Like I tell my kids all the time about His love for them. Ouch. I can't believe how much everything in our lives is affected by our view of the Lord!!!! and our relationship with Him!!!!
- Yet I also can't go too extreme here. God does use me to make people feel special & loved & that is so important... but I do realize that He doesn't want good enough... He wants to totally heal my heart little by little. I really don't want anybody to feel like I used to feel around people who claimed to be Christ followers...but that's not a good enough reason. He wants me to have a Christ focused heart surrendered to His purposes. He wants me to be soo full of love from Him, that it just overflows and I become loving.. not because I'm trying.
- So even if I have a godly & healthy end picture in mind (making other people feel loved & special & seen....and to glorify Christ)....He wants to make my heart even better. Totally pure & no self in there.
- *Genuine* love is my witness. Jesus's amazing, only-He-does-this, "just because" LOVE that overflows onto others. I need more of it... so I have more to pass out.
- My other witness is also my weakness. I can be a witness and glorify God by being real about my struggles & showing my dependence on the Lord.
- It's a hard thing to accept that people see Christ in me not when I'm "successful", "thriving".... but when I'm dependent on the Lord, normal, willing to accept my imperfections & others, peaceful, gracious, kind, fruits of the Spirit, yet real and humble and quick to acknowledge my weaknesses.
- I heard Ann Voskamp say that weaknesses take the sharpness of perfection off of our lives... so we are huggable to others. More able to hug others, less sharpness is on there, worn down through imperfections and now gracious (my paraphrase)
- At the basis of that acknowledgement that weakness is witness..... is how important it is to understand that so much of my thinking is sooo deeply rooted in the world that I often line up to the world's incorrect opinions & views of "success" and "God's favor". I forget so easily that God's favor doesn't mean perfection. It doesn't mean perfect feelings. It doesn't mean ease. It doesn't mean comfort. It doesn't mean health wealth prosperity. It doesn't look any certain way at all, actually... since we all have different roles, passions & purposes. His favor shows itself in heart ways. Genuine love, fruits of the Spirit, peace because His Favor is His grace - shown in His presence & love - with us - no matter what.
I know I won't be perfect on this. Only the Lord loves perfectly.... but I so desperately want to genuinely love others. I don't want to do it because it makes me feel good. I don't want to do it to earn His favor. I don't want to do it to receive love back. I just want to love, just because!! Just because it's IN me and how can I NOT love?!?!
I do experience this here and there.... but not enough. I care way too much what others think. I care too much to be effective. I care too much for what is in it for me. And that others see what I'm doing.
Every time I think I'm "over" that caring too much to be effective..... finding my purpose in how GOD uses ME.... (the first victory being when I mourned over the dreams and plans I had for my life...totally surrendered them & cried and found rest in allowing Him to decide how to use me, finding contenment in the daily work He chose for me as wife & mom).... it rears itself up in another form. So strange. I didn't even see what was at the root of all this until just now writing this!!
I *know* I have to get my eyes off myself and focus on the Lord. I know that's the answer. I know Jesus is always the answer. It's just a struggle to surrender that and work out that process in daily life. He needs to transform my mind and thinking. I need to be truly nourished by Him, rest in Him. Get love and affirmation and nourishment and connection from Him so much more!!
I so desperately need to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I am trusting that He will continue to do this.
I praise the Lord for Him guiding my thinking on this. This is a step. He is helping me get to the ROOT of these issues so that my soil is healthy and ready for all these seeds He is growing in me!! The root work, the ground work is tough toil. It is pretty painful and there's not a lot of outward results seen.
So that's where I am right now.