Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Time For A Heart Transplant

God sent me an email today. Once again, as He has done dozens of times over the past eight years, God spoke directly to my need in a P31 devotion.

The devotion was written by my sweet friend, Rachel, and as I read through it, one particular sentence seemed to jump right off the page into my heart. That sentence read "I’ve complained to God in the past for allowing my loved ones to die or fall deep into sin, for allowing valuable things to be stolen from me, for allowing my reputation to be unfairly tarnished, for allowing physical suffering in my body, or for not allowing what I felt I deserved."

Last night I went to my daughters ballgame to watch her cheer. Although I take great delight in watching my children do something they love, this year has been a struggle.

Lots of changes were taking place in our local cheerleading league last year - past leaders were out, new leaders were in. I learned that new leaders are not always accepted, especially by those who are friends with the old leaders.

Untruths were told, gossip was spread, assumptions were made, and my reputation was damaged. I was guilty by association, guilty by rumor, and guilty by default.

My crime? Volunteering to help coach my daughters cheerleading squad because I had been told that nobody else had volunteered and they didnt have anyone to help.

Although I was thrilled to be able to spend more time with my daughter, the fact remained that people were mad about the changes, and soon women whom I had never met were giving me dirty looks. I experienced feelings of hurt and awkwardness that I hadnt felt since I was a scrawny little girl in middle school trying to fit in.

I felt some of these feelings creeping back in last night, as I sat on the cold bleachers, and a woman whose name I do not know, kept looking at me with hatred. Seriously, I dont even know her. I wanted to go up to her and ask what was the problem, could I do something to change her mind about me, clear up some confusion or talk to her about her feelings. But I wasnt sure how I would be received, so I kept my seat, all the while wishing things were different.

That is where the sentence from todays devotion comes in. When I read the part about "Ive complained to God in the past for..... allowing my reputation to be unfairly tarnished", it finally hit me. After thinking about it, I realized that I was kind of mad at God for letting that challenging experience happen to me, and that I was still suffering the consequences of my involvement a year later.

I was a little mad at God that I tried to do something positive, and got nothing but negative in return.

I was a little mad at God that I had to endure false misconceptions about me.

I was a little mad at God because I had tried so hard to do a good job as coach, and truly tried to be a good witness to these impressionable girls and make a difference, and my thanks was merely a tarnished reputation, and mean looks.

The rest of that sentence above from the devotion talks about how we sometimes feel mad at God for various other things, and so I began to think about all the other difficult issues that have been a burden on my mind and heart lately, such as painful things that were happening in the lives of my family and friends - things that I didnt understand why God allowed, and didnt think they deserved. In all honesty, I was a little mad about those things too.

I realized this morning that I needed a heart transplant. I needed to have a heart to heart, open and honest chat with God about my feelings. He knew how I was feeling, it has just taken some time for me to process those feelings and admit them to myself and to God. I asked for His forgiveness for not trusting in His sovereignty, and asked for His guidance in making things better.

I want to live my life feeling like a victor, not a victim. Today I am laying down my hurt feelings, and opening up my heart for spiritual surgery, so that I can begin looking for Gods activity in my circumstances instead of focusing on His perceived inactivity.

I know God could have changed my circumstances last year if He had wanted to, and He could change them now, if He wanted to. But I also know that even if He does not change my circumstances the way I would like, that "He can and does change my perspective on those circumstances – enabling me to endure them."

Rachel goes on to say that "God listens when we complain about injustice. He understands when we feel shortchanged or opposed. Read through the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and you’ll be reminded of just how much Jesus can relate to undeserved opposition!"

I think Ill spend a little bit of time reading through the gospel today. I may not be able to find a passage about cheerleading, but I bet I can find a wonderful story about someone who experienced the same feelings of being on the outside looking in, of being rejected, enduring unfair treatment or assumptions, and desperately wishing they could make things different.

I bet I will see how God worked miraculously in their situations, and I know I will find renewed hope in knowing that He is working in my life too, and that His timing is perfect. I know God can heal all things, all situations, and all hearts. I know that one day I will see how God worked through all the difficult situations in my life, and I will be thrilled that He included me in part of His plan.

Today I choose to keep smiling, even if those whom I am smiling at, are not smiling back. I choose to trust Gods plan, and pray that He will open a door for me to mend relationships and build friendships. Although I have lots of great friends, you can never have too many friends - but one enemy is far too many.

If you are feeling mad at God today, would you consider having a heart to heart chat with Him too?

Maybe your reputation was damaged at work due to the actions or gossip by a co-worker; maybe you were hurt by a friend who betrayed you; maybe your involvement in a community position caused relationships to suffer; maybe a spouse was unfaithful; maybe your child has wandered away from Christ; maybe you feel like a little helpless fish in a huge sea of big important fish and you just cant seem to break down those barriers -

GOD KNOWS HOW YOU FEEL. He is your comforter. He is your friend, your supporter, your encourager, and the only one whose approval you should seek. If we remember these truths during times of hurt feelings and difficult circumstances, then we can begin to live as that victor that God wants us to be.

Share some smiles today with people who are not a member of your fan club. Lets see how far a few smiles can take us!

2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV)

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Joyful said...

Tracie, thanks for sharing with such authenticity. My own heart could use some surgery too. I'm guessing that at times the operating room can get pretty crowded, but our Surgeon is so skillful, He can handle us all.

Richard Foster wrote a book entitled, "The Celebration of Disciplines", but I think we sometimes need to practice the "Discipline of Celebration" and, like you said, choose to smile despite our circumstances. I'm not saying it's easy - it's not - but I think it's a by-product of the heart transplant.

Fixing my eyes on the eternal,

Anonymous said...

Thanks for opening up your heart to all of us. The devotion touched me as well. I get upset with God often because I feel like I am trying really hard to "always do the right thing" but obstacles seem to confront me from all directions. I have to remember whom I serve and what is important. Thanks again.

cceeyore said...

Tracie, this spoke volumes to me this morning. I have been praying for several months for God to show me how to put my heart back together after it was broken into pieces by so many people who have made assumptions and judgments without finding out the whole story. Thank you for being honest and vulnerable!

Karan said...

I think, if everyone were honest, that we all have lived/or are living what you have expressed in today's devotion. At times like these, I like to read Luke 7. I love how the "sinful woman" marches right in to the Pharisee's house and worships at His feet! Think of that: marching right into the enemies' camp because it is the only place where Jesus is present! And she does. And she doesn't not care at all what they think about her. She knows. She has lived with their stares, finger pointing, and turning away. But Jesus says she is loved, forgiven, and at peace. Also says she is a woman of faith. May we be as bold in our worship of Jesus in our day-to-day lives that we no longer see the enemy, only Jesus. May we dare to march right in and worship: through smiles and greetings, refusing to give in to fear and the awful torment of judgment. To me, she is my example of how I am to live in front of my accusers: as if they were not even there judging me. Worship Him today - no matter where, no matter what, no matter who is watching. Yes, someone is always watching and someone will also know why "you should not be allowed to worship at His feet." Let God silence your accusers, for He is so much better at it than we are. Let us all be faithful to keep our eyes on Him and remember to encourage one another, as the days are evil and life can be hard.
In His love and hope,