I’ve often wished that it didn’t take experiencing the hard things in life for me to grow as a person. I mean, wouldn’t it be so much nicer if depth could be added to our souls while we lie on the beach sipping margaritas? But the only divine revelation I’m likely to have in that scenario is that I need to take a nap. The reality for most of us is that it’s only when we walk through really challenging seasons that we come to a greater understanding of who we are….the good, the bad and the downright ugly.
As I mentioned in The Peace-Filled Home Part 3, I’ve reached a point in my life where I can declare that I am a recovering peace-faker. And the reason that I use the word ‘recovering’ is because all of us tend to fall back into our default modes from time to time. While I now consider myself to have made great strides towards being a peace-maker, I will always struggle with erring on the side of being a peace-faker. And some of you will always struggle with erring on the side of being a peace-breaker. It all goes back to our tendencies.
Getting to the place where I can finally say that I’m a peace-maker has not been easy. I used to think that experiencing peace in my life had more to do with my external circumstances, the things that were happening on the peripheral, than it did with my own heart. For me, having peace in my life was more dependent on the choices of others and how those choices impacted me. I had yet to learn that peace was something I could experience in spite of what was happening around me.
The word striving could be best used to describe the way I spent most of my life. I find the definition of this word so fascinating because it could not possibly be a more accurate picture of how this manifested itself in my world.
Striving: make great efforts to achieve or obtain something; struggle or fight vigorously
I’m a people-pleasing perfectionist. Which basically means I expect a lot from myself and never want to give anyone a reason not to like me or to be disappointed in me. Good times! Ugh.
And when this translated into my walk with the Lord, it twisted and warped the way I understood His plans for me. In my mind, right choices would equal a right life. I can hear you chuckling to yourself because you know where this is going, don’t you? 😉
I could say that this worked pretty well for awhile but the truth is that while it might have seemed that way on the outside, in my heart I think I knew that I was only scratching the surface of the depth of grace and mercy that God was offering me. But, until my early 20’s, my ‘right’ choices seemed to actually equal a ‘right’ life. I was a ‘good’ girl. I was a ‘good’ student. I worked hard, studied hard, didn’t play too hard. You get the picture. I met an amazing guy and we got married soon after college. We had good jobs, made a good income and bought a good first home. And for awhile it seemed that my ‘right choices=right life’ approach was going to continue working. But then we encountered a challenge. We struggled with infertility and the grief involved when you reach the point of realizing that you will never have biological children. And suddenly ‘right choices=right life’ equation wasn’t working out. Because here was something that I had absolutely NO control over.
And I was presented with an opportunity. An opportunity to see this as not simply something to be ‘gotten through’ but as a way to add a depth to my relationship with the Lord and my relationships with others.
You see, I believe that when we encounter challenges, we often miss the full purpose of them in our lives.
“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress, is because they haven’t come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering in God’s work within us. “ ~ A.W. Tozer
It was really only when I came to the end of myself that I was willing to open my heart to the work God wanted to do in it. And it’s a work I think many of us skip over when we are faced with difficulties. It’s been said so often in our culture that we go through hard things in life so that we can help others when they encounter hard things in life. But, I think there is so much more to it than that.
I often say that when I’m faced with a challenge I feel like God is adding insult to my injury. Because, what I’ve found to be true is that in the midst of all of the pain and the grief and the heartache He asks me if I’m willing to allow Him to reveal to me some areas of my heart that aren’t very pretty. Maybe even areas that are sinful. Sin isn’t something we seem to like talking about these days. And we definitely don’t like talking about it when all we want to do is be comforted in our pain. But, I have found that God doesn’t seem to care a whole lot about my comfort. What He cares about is a heart that reflects His character.
And perhaps, it’s really only the painful situations that strip us bare and take our hearts to a place where we can actually see the sin in our lives.
For me, this meant that as I dug through the layers of my pain one of the big things that was revealed to me was my deep need for control. If I could control everything (and everyone!) around me then I felt more stable, more secure. But here was this thing that I had zero control over and I had to come to terms with how much this sinful area in my life was affecting me. I had to locate the root of it. I had to dig it out and toss it away so that new, healthy life could grow in it’s place.
If a peace-filled home begins with a peace-filled heart, then we need to be willing to ask God to reveal to us the areas that need some weeding. Because one way or another we WILL be made aware of them. It’s pretty much a guarantee that you will encounter problems in this life. “In the world you will have trouble but take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
But simply being aware of our troubles isn’t enough. We have to be willing to let those weeds be yanked and tugged and dug up by their roots. And if you don’t? Oh friends, you will be missing out on so much!
I firmly believe that I now have all of the things in my life that I never realized I needed. It’s messy and beautiful and hard and precious. There are complicated relationships and so many more things that I have no control over. But, all of those years ago as a 20-something when I encountered such pain and heartache, I took the opportunity God was giving me to let the necessary weeding be done in my heart so that I could be prepared for something even more amazing than I could have imagined.
And now, I understand that a peace-filled heart only comes when it beats in tune with the heart of it’s Creator. And it’s the overflow of my peace-filled heart which will create a peace-filled home.
In the next installment of this series, I’m going to share some practical ways that you can begin to create a more peaceful home.
But, in the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how your heart and your home are intertwined and whether or not any of this strikes a chord with you.
I’m so glad you stopped by to meet me at the Fence today!
I have not been able to read parts 1–3, so I’ll respond to today’s. Yes. It struck a chord. Each of us are given a message. These things I have spoken unto you. That in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation but be of good cheer –but take heart–for I have overcome the world. John 16:33
This hardship in my life? Maybe not to point out sin but to teach me faith at a next step and another difficulty I go up another step. If an outsider were to read the heartaches and physical junk and losses and such of both my husband of me and my brain damage and then a stroke and so much more for him–the world would not comprehend.
But God is not cruel. We have declared our faith in Christ even more as the trials hurl our way. I so want others to see Jesus through the broken body and broken life I have. Not pity. And this verse became a treasure several years ago when we thought it couldn’t get worse and it’s gotten much much worse. But be of good cheer–take heart–and I wait Jesus’ big message for me in deep times of hardship. Oh my Good Shepherd says to me I have overcome the world. I need not fear. I’m afraid Lord. But He says Be of GOOD cheer. Take heart. He has overcome this world. Jesus has defeated this old world. I will put my trust in the Lord and have peace for tomorrow. Disappointed? Yes. Sad? Yes. Weary? At times. Yet I’m a child of the King and promised His love. Hallelujah!!!!
Did it ever strike a cord! I could hear ever wire being plucked on the harp. Thank you for sharing.
Yes! I am actually reading a book on choosing joy, and what it says fits in to your post. It is often the sorrowful, dark times when God does his work.
Cassandra E says
I’ve been thinking on this since I first read it. It all resonates with me. I had many of the same thoughts you’ve had. I’ve been completely derailed. But what really hit home is stepping beyond the insult to injury, and sitting with a little more discomfort as I allow him to sanctify me. I’m super resistant to the idea that all bad things happen because of our personal choices, (which I do not think is what you are saying), but you’ve been able to get me to step outside of that and realize there is still a work to be done. For me! How liberating! My home is pretty peaceful, but I think it could be so much more peaceful as I lay some things down.
Jo Anne says
Wow. That was beautiful, just beautiful
This was beautiful. Thank you for reminding me of Gods Grace.
At The Picket Fence says
Thank you so much Katy!