I do not make New Year’s resolutions. I am horrible at them. They are expectations that I rarely (never) meet – which just leaves me feeling bad (worse) about myself. It only took me about 35 years to figure this out. Since coming to the realization that resolutions are not my thing, Brian and I decided to resolve to “be better” by focusing our lives and efforts on a particular word for the entire year. That exercise proved to be very rewarding and actually kept us focused on a goal without leaving us feeling like failures after a few months (and by months I mean days). This year the word I chose is PERSPECTIVE. I wrote a blog this past summer about that word and when it came time to choose a word for the whole year – it really made sense to me. I recently heard a sermon by one of my new favorite pastors to listen to (Matt Chandler) in which the pastor basically called out those of us who compare ourselves to others. (Yes, I was one of the “us”). How many of us can justify our selfish actions, our hateful words, or our sinful behavior by comparing ourselves to someone who happens to be “worse” than us. Well of course I’m going to look like a champ if I compare myself to someone whose behavior is apparently “worse”. But that certainly doesn’t make me into the person God wants me to be – just because I’m not “as bad” as someone else. It can work the opposite way as well. We can compare ourselves to someone who seemingly has it all together and has a perfect wonderful life with perfect kids, no problems, beautiful home (do you see where I’m going with this)…and feel really bad about ourselves. It can wreak havoc on us. Our peace and contentment really come when we have a healthy perspective on things. And as believers, our peace and contentment comes from our savior. How does Jesus see us? What would his perspective be? If we begin to view life through His lens, how does it change our perspective on things? This word has come to mean so much to me as I meet people and learn about myself. There is no way to wallow in my problems when I am worshipping next to a recovering heroin addict. That’s perspective. I can’t possibly continue to worry about finances and budget when I have friends who are currently homeless. I believe that Jesus’ perspective on “sinners” in His time was revolutionary. He didn’t see the woman at the well the way the Pharisees would have seen her. He saw her through the perspective of love…not condemnation. As I embark on another year as a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, a wife, a mom, a teacher, and a woman, I know that IF I am able to keep things in perspective – not MY way, but God’s way – I know that I will be blessed and that God will open my eyes to see some beautiful things in 2014.
So today I came home with such a heavy heart. Teaching middle school is challenging! Teaching middle school in an urban setting – surrounded by poverty, drugs, fights, absent parents, etc) is even more challenging. It is a tough, but at times a rewarding gig. But some days….
This afternoon I had, in my opinion, a less than pleasant interaction with a co-worker and it has really brought me down. Six hours later I am still carrying around the weight of feeling disrespected and I can’t seem to shake it.
And as I sit here, I’m thinking things like “I really need to find another job” or “Just wait until I see her next week and tell her what I really think about her.” But here’s the problem with both of those thoughts. I don’t want to find another job. That school is my own mission field. I am certain that God hand-picked me for this place. And I know that in very small ways I share Jesus with them by just loving on them. And I’m not going to tell her anything that is not of God…because as a Christ follower I am to reflect Christ in all of my actions and words. And what on really think is maybe she was having a lousy day. Maybe she is dealing with more than I know. Maybe she needs someone to share Gods love with her.
It’s amazing what happens when I stop trying to manage life on my own and actually let go and let God show me what my life should look like. God speaks to me in so many ways. Today, in the midst of my struggles, my husband sent me this verse…”The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:14. It was precisely what I needed to hear. And though it came in the form of a text message from Brian, I’m certain that God placed Brian in my life to journey with me through this life. As I sit here and type I am enveloped In sense of calm and comfort. I’m certain that God is here with me…”For God has said,’I will never fail you.I will never abandon you.'”
I know that in each and every encounter God is teaching me a lesson, helping me grow, or simply displaying His love for me. I am grateful for the tears that flow from trying times, because I know that out of those tears come joy. And while there are days that I question my place in such a challenging school, I know that this is God’s plan for me. God called me to this place to do good.
1 Peter 2:21 “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.”