I think that the self-help industry jumps on this bandwagon and makes their billions off of it. "Just follow these few simple steps and your past will be forgotten completely."
But what if we're not meant to forget all together? What if our pasts, as painful as they may be, are supposed to be with us always? I'm not saying there isn't hope for restoration - of course there is. But when Jesus came back and appeared to Thomas, He appeared with the scars on His hands and feet. John 27 shows Jesus inviting Thomas to see His hands and feet and even takes Thomas' hand and puts it to His side where He was pierced. Jesus is in His glorified body, yet the scars are still visible.
I think our scars are supposed to be visible too. Really, it is through our scars that we are able to minister to others in empathy. When we have lost a loved one or had someone wrong us in such a horrible way - we can find restoration in Christ so those scars don't hurt anymore. But then, we can take ourselves, scars and all, and minister to others. We can take others' hands and say, "See me. Hear me. I care about you and I can fully understand what you are going through."
I don't understand why so many people are into erasing their past hurts when we can use them in such a way to bring glory to God. In reality, it is usually the hard times that mold us into the people we are - they are part of our identity. And for us to be able to take them once they are healed and give love and encouragement to someone else - what a gift.
The second man who passed away recently is the father of a very important family in our church. This man was a believer for many many years as well, raising his family to know and love Christ. He was a doctor and although not considered in full-time ministry as a position, he and his wife served faithfully in their church home and started up ministries that are still thriving today.
The third man whose funeral we attended was just 31 and had been married for three months. This was the hardest funeral I have ever attended, but it's the piece of the mosaic that makes it that much closer to completion. This man had just accepted Christ a few months before his passing. He was not well-educated in Biblical knowledge, and his job was a "normal" position of an electrician. He didn't carry with him the status a doctor has, or the pedestal pastors are usually put on. But he was a minister of the Gospel, sharing his faith with his family and telling them about Jesus and the exciting faith he found in Him.
When I think of these men together, I get a bit teary. In an earthly sense, they had nothing in common. But through their faith in Christ, they had a bond and now they are all in Heaven, rejoicing together with their Heavenly Father. I love that Christ takes us all, don't you? I love that we don't have to be perfect because He has taken care of that for us through His death and resurrection. I love that Heaven is a hodge-podge of believers and that none of us will look the same, even in Heaven. I just love how God works - and am thankful that He takes broken vessels like me.
The last couple of weeks have been very interesting in the Manne home. Many scenarios have arisen that continue to point Jake and I in the direction of growth. Whether it's an issue in our marriage, in parenting, or in our ministry in the church, we have found that these last few days have hit us hard with conviction after conviction. In a world where everyone is "always right," and humility is hard to find, it can be very difficult to receive these conflicts with grace and with true reflection on why these issues have come up and what we need to do in order to resolve them. In every case thus far, the solution depends on us changing something about ourselves, which we all know is not an easy task. It could seem that getting defensive and fighting back would be easier, but it's really not. Taking things personally and out of context of the spirit they're intended only brings dissension and even more hurt. So I am working on having a spirit of humility and discovering the amazing grace that God provides in situations such as these.
Proverbs 3:7 says, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil." How often do we think we're doing the right thing - and that the right thing automatically means it's the wise thing? I am learning through these difficult times that me acting out of my own wisdom is still me acting out of foolishness. Only God's wisdom is true wisdom - and if I act according to His knowledge and wisdom, then many problems in my life wouldn't occur. However, this takes much change on my part. I have to learn what it means to listen to God and to find His wisdom. I don't even know what wisdom looks like, let alone how to find it in all situations. But - that's where another common Scripture comes into play.
Proverbs 3:5-6 say, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." This is such a commonly used piece of Scripture. It's printed on pretty paper and matted in beautiful frames, stitched on pillows and etched onto many a coffee mug. We've all heard it and we can all recite it. But in my Bible study the other day, I found something about this verse that no one ever told me and it makes this verse that much more important and powerful. The Hebrew word used for "paths straight" means more than guidance. It means that God removes the obstacles, making a smooth path or way of life or perhaps better, bringing one to the appointed goal. So applying this to the above-mentioned conflict of me battling myself in order to change, God does that for me when I acknowledge Him and seek His wisdom for my life. Isn't that amazing? God removes the obstacles - and in this case, I am my own obstacle as I try to be wise in my own eyes. I am encouraged now and excited to see the growth the God brings as a result of all of the "messiness" around us right now. And I encourage you to see how God may be drawing you in to see His wisdom all the more closely as well.
Then, we come to today. I figured that naptime might be more difficult than bedtime mainly because he's more tired at bedtime and it's lighter during the day than at night. I laid Cole down and patted his back again, but could tell from the look in his eyes that he wasn't about to fall asleep with me at his side again. So I said "Goodnight", and left the room. Cole played for about an hour before I heard silence. I wish that I hadn't gone into his room when I did, because when I opened the door to lay him back in bed, he was already there, cuddling with his blankie and I think he may have gone to sleep on his own. But, because I disturbed the process, I ended up having to rub his back again.
My nightmare come true is if we end up like those overdramatized families on SuperNanny! However, I don't think that 15 minutes of back rubbing is too bad of a habit, do you? All in all, I feel like the transition is going very smoothly and I'm very excited about it, even though my baby has nothing baby about him at all anymore! I guess that's what I'm striving for as a parent though, right? For my child to become more and more independent every day. It's one small step for Cole, one giant leap for Mom! =)
Just wanted to share Jake's and my latest project that I'm so excited to have completed. This is Cole's new room that we painted and finally have in order. He's still in his crib, but as you can see, the toddler bed is ready for him - we'll keep working on that transition! Anyway, his room before was all white and terribly boring - now it's become my favorite room in the house. I learned something on this project too - if an idea sounds too easy to be true, it probably is! All we have left to do is the nursery - and much to Jake's dismay, that is the room with the 12' ceilings. I know he's not looking forward to that, but thankfully, it will be the last room he'll have to think about painting for a very long time!
So what are we called to in our lives? Much like Mary and Joseph, and that manger scene, I find myself in "messiness" much of the time. Many of my life's circumstances are not the perfectly beautiful ideal that I had in mind when I dreamed of life as a little girl. Still, I am realizing that God has called me to fulfill many different roles amongst the messiness. As a wife, mother, and follower of Christ, life isn't always filled with a pleasant aroma. But I am seeing now that when I choose to obey as Mary and Joseph did many many years ago, I too see the face of my Lord more clearly. There is nothing more beautiful and no feeling compares. Of all of the gifts I've been given this Christmas season, this lesson is one I am most thankful for.
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