Not for good, but definitely for a while.
I think God is trying to teach me something—discernment and wisdom. Many, if not all, of my posts were impulsive and reactionary. Which, in itself, isn’t bad. But here’s where it all goes south. Restored to Grace was a public blog. One that I was using as a journal. Those are my thoughts. They’re to be wrestled with in my mind with no one but myself and God (and one or two very trusted advisors).
My life is changing at breakneck speed. I’m no longer a kid just stumbling along trying to figure things out. While I can’t say that I’ve got everything all put together (because, as we all know, none of us do. . . and thank God for that; it’s nice to know that he’s writing our story, and we aren’t), I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I know what I want from life and who I want to be. And now I’m in a position of leadership. And not the kind of leadership I had at my last job where I was just telling people to alphabetize the items on the shelves. I’m a spiritual leader.
And while something inside me shies away at the thought, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s God’s calling on my life.
And because of this calling, I can no longer vomit my initial thoughts and struggles into the public forum. I have to act differently from how I’ve previously acted. Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth (who, incidentally, had some seriously skewed ideas about the spiritual and physical “realms,” not unlike ourselves in many ways) —
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
This verse has been weighing heavily on my mind these last several days. I know what I have to do. First, I have to be very careful about what I allow to define me. While I’m not the sum of my blog posts, status updates, and tweets, to the people who know me primarily through those avenues I am. And I have no way of changing their views of me. My friend-pastor-boss likes to say, “We are our own PR firm.” That statement couldn’t be more true. And the task of maintaining our public image is made especially difficult in today’s world with Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere.
I’m not talking about not being authentic. I’m talking about being intentional.
Second, I have to be careful to not react to whatever situations or ideas may come my way. My old mentor (and former friend-pastor-boss) used to exhort me day after day to be careful about my reactions to fundamentalism. Yes, there have been personal hurts. Yes, their approach to the Gospel is quite skewed. But by constantly reacting and trying to “prove that I’m different,” I continue to give them control over my life.
Someone told me recently that in reacting, we give in to our sinfulness. While emotions are a gift from God—allowing us to experience joy, love, and even sadness, emotional highs and lows are Satan’s way of turning our emotions against us. Emotions should never govern our actions, but instead should give power to our rational thought which in turn controls our actions.
Think about it this way (the following analogy is my own, though possibly not originally, as the aforementioned acquaintance didn’t give this to me; I’m saying this so you know I’m not putting words into her mouth) — Our actions and decisions are like a car. They take us from point A to point B. Our carefully reasoned thoughts act as the steering system (wheels, rack, pinion gear, steering wheel, etc.) which controls the direction of the car. Our emotions act as the engine, setting our actions into motion. Without emotions, we don’t really take action. But actions driven by emotions alone are as dangerous as a car without a steering system.
Another of my former pastors once reminded me, after one of my errors in judgment came to light, of this principle from Proverbs 19—that although wisdom without zeal is dead, zeal without wisdom is deadly.
I’m guilty of that. I have for too long allowed the car of my actions and decisions to be governed by the engine of my emotions without the control of my reasoning. Recently a circumstance came into my life that vividly highlighted this. Thankfully it was only a fender-bender that affected an interpersonal relationship that I hadn’t yet invested much time or effort into. I’m glad God didn’t allow this to progress to the point of irreparable damage to the work he’s allowing me to do.
This lack of self-control has led me to take dogmatic stances on grey-area issues. It has caused me to make quick-snap decisions that ended in my hurting people I care about. It also turned me into a democrat.
Paul wrote about this in his second recorded letter to his protégé Timothy.
“God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Power, love, and self-control are all gifts from God. I pray these words come to describe me in time. For now, I’m progressing there. “Under construction,” if you will.
But I want to thank you all. Thanks for reading Restored to Grace these past three years. It’s been an interesting journey, and one thing I hope I’ve learned through it all is this: God is not giving up on me.
Or on you. Phil. 1.6.