it's been a while. i know. i haven't really been in a place to say anything, up until now. all the things i've been feeling the last few months have been hard to feel. hard to deal with. hard to think about.
i'm in a bible study with some ladies from my church/work, and we are reading the book "crazy love." NEVER, in my whole life, has a book kicked my butt so bad. i have been so challenged, so inspired, so humbled and so determined to make some SERIOUS changes because of this book.
i could go on and on and on about what has challenged me and humbled me, and maybe i will eventually, but i just don't have time to do it all right now.
we were discussing chapter 8 last night, and i could feel my blood boiling. not because of what anyone was saying, but because i have been struggling with accepting the "truths" that have been brought up in this book, especially in this chapter. at one point, Francis Chan (the author) uses Luke 6:32-36. It reads: "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even "sinners" love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even "sinners" do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even "sinners" lend to "sinners," expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
He follows it up by saying, "true faith is loving a person after he hurts you. True love makes you stand out." a few sentences later, he says "God commands that we give without expecting anything in return."
Out loud sigh. If i could even EXPRESS the anguish i've been feeling about all of this lately, i would. I think the best i can do is try. It's been such a battle for me. I think this is partly why. I grew up believing that you must work to get what you want in life. You have to work to pay your bills. You have to work to put food on the table, to clothe yourself, to get from here to there. There was no other way to accomplish any of these things, except to work.
And i'm going to get controversial here, but i've always had an issue with "lending a hand" to those that don't do anything for themselves. I'm sorry, but i said it. I have had a very hard heart, because in my mind, it doesn't make sense to me why i should go in debt to get a college education, and then work 40 hours a week, to give my money away to other people that don't even try. wow. sorry, bare with me. THAT is HONESTLY how i have felt much of my life. So, as i have been reading this book...i have been slapped back and forth. Because everything in this book is against that very thought pattern. And it has frustrated me and made me stay awake at night and made me cry and be upset with God. I've demanded reasoning from Him. "Why God? It doesn't even make sense. Why do i have to work and give my money away...the money that i have earned..."
I have been praying for God to soften my heart. And i have been praying for him to open my eyes. Last night...He did.
I won't go into much detail, but i will say this. God showed me two things. ONE, he doesn't owe me an answer. He demands that i be obedient, and if he tells me to give as he gives, i must do it. I don't get to challenge him on his reasoning, or wonder what the purpose is, i just MUST. SECOND, it's not even MY money. it's His. The only reason i get money is because he has equipped me with an ability to do a job, and he has given me the opportunity to have a job, and to make an "income." so, it's not my money to spend on whatever i see fit. it's ultimately his, and i need to loosen my grip on it and do things with it that would be pleasing to Him.
I can't tell you how crystal clear these two messages have been. I got home last night, looked at my closet, and decided i'm going to get rid of much of what i have and give it to people who actually NEED it. I also had a great discussion with my husband and we both decided that we are going to start being more generous with our money and help people who need it.
mark and i don't spend much money. we save most of it, after bills. we have school debt (lots of it) but that's it. we don't have a lot of toys, or nice things. we have enough to get by, and last night i think we decided that's good enough for both of us. i think growing up in a nice house with nice things, i had this idea in my head that i could never settle for less than that. when i first got married, i was scared of living in an old, icky house with spiders--because i thought that was all we would be able to afford. i was concerned about my comfort and i was upset that i would never make enough money to have nice things.
now i've realized, that might be true. but, you know what. nice things, are only temporary. you don't take them with you. when you die, they all stay right where they are. we all know that's true, but we don't live like that's true. i want to START living like that is true. i want to start living my life in a way that reflects my heart for God and the things that move Him.
i'm humbled. i'm thankful. i'm excited. i'm grateful. i'm feeling JOY again. a joy that i have not felt in a very long time.