Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Big heart changes

Well, here's a vulnerable post. It's not always FUN to be vulnerable, but I think it's always a blessing in the end. I always fear being misunderstood, but I'm trying to be honest and hope the words come out right. I have been processing a lot about my life and friendships, and feel that this is definitely a work of the Lord in my heart, a needed one. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance. We can only repent truly because He allows us to, so I am all the more appreciative. I feel like there have been cycles in my life as a Christian (and my whole non-Christian life) where I have really wanted to fit in, wherever "in" is. People at times (or rather, their approval) have been idols in my life and either their acceptance or their apathy have affected my feelings a lot, and especially over the last year and a half or so. I think some loneliness can come when you have really small children, and are in that stage again, and these things just act as a catalyst for causing circumstances that bring up these things in your heart again. I know people that are around me a lot and know me somewhat probably can sense my struggle, and honestly it probably drives them further away. I am always observing relationships, analyzing how people interact, and how it is different than how they interact with me. (And I would like to take full responsibility for my sin, so that no one misunderstands that I am blaming anyone, or think that they have wronged me in some way. It is my heart that is the problem.) So, I started thinking about why is it that I chase relationships? What is it that I am hoping to gain? I think that the biggest thing I realized is that I am 37 years old, and I am tired of living this way. I don't want to anymore. I don't say that in a secular way, the Lord has replaced it in my heart with wanting something better. The Lord has revealed this to me in a way that showed me, I don't want to get to heaven and Him say to me, "Why did you spend your life chasing after these things. You could have had so much joy living for things that mattered." There is so much joy to be had living to love others instead of waiting for others to love you. Yes, not feeling wanted at times is hard, and that is not easily erased, but joy can erase it. Loving other people takes the focus off yourself and joy flows out of loving others who you are seeking to gain nothing from. It really is freeing. I realized what a distraction pursuing these things causes in my walk with Christ, because I am constantly looking at myself and asking, "What's wrong with me? Why do people not want me around (if they actually do or don't)? Am I hard to be around? Is it that I have 4 kids? Is it that people don't like my kids?" (these are hard feelings to admit). There are no answers, only self-focus and distraction from Christ. I want to live for what matters eternally, and I've been wasting my life. I want my kids to see real love, Christ's love, not chasing love for selfish reasons. I AM loved, by Him. I do not have to chase people to have these needs met for myself. I am so excited about what he has for Duane and I as we have talked about struggling with these things and what God has called us to. I have made purposeful decisions this week to not influence, to not try to fit in or be included, to let the chips fall where they may, and I feel so free. Free to love, to just accept whatever is. It doesn't matter what people feel about me, it only matters that I pursue love. I have wanted to feel this way for a long time, but just haven't been able to. It's not like I WANT to be this way. That is why it is so sweet that He is setting me free from it. After all, Jesus suffered Himself outside the city gate. We are not called to pursue belonging for our own enjoyment, but any belonging that we have is to bless others. I know there will be temptation, but I just feel free, and excited.

Another thing that I appreciate God doing in my life stems from a book that I read recently, called Gray Matter. It is about a neurosurgeon who progressively trusts God in his practice and begins integrating his faith by praying with his patients (which is unheard of with most physicians). Anyway, I worked this last Saturday, and before that it hit me, from the effects and peace that came from praying with his patients, what would keep me from praying with mine? Most people that I deal with have had some major life change: some have just found out they have cancer, some have lost legs, some can't walk anymore, some will never live alone again or be independent. Many have to be devastated. I have to be somewhat vague due to privacy violations policies, but this elderly man had just undergone surgery and things were not going to be the same again, and I saw that he already struggled with depression in his chart. I said, "Would it be ok if I prayed for you before you go?" to which he replied, "I would love that." and immediately grabbed my hand and we prayed together. It brought tears to my eyes to be able to do that for him.

The next patient I had gone to get, she wasn't ready and I had time so I ended up staying in her room, and for some reason over the next 30 minutes she just started talking and poured out all this pain in her life. She is in her 80's and had a lifetime of pain inside of her. I ended up just sitting beside her on the bed and listening. She after a while made a reference to wondering if it was enough to go to heaven. I felt like she really loves the Lord, but she struggles as she looks over her life. I get to share the truth with her, the second time for me in the last 7 years or so. I say to her that she has so much pain, can I pray for her, and she tears up and says please do. She says she wouldn't trade the time we've had for a million dollars. Such a blessing, all from a simple prayer for peace and comfort. I don't know why this has never occurred to me to do before, but it adds a whole new element to treatment, even if it is only a minute, or 30. I can't explain what the difference was in my day, but it was very different to add the dimension of prayer to it. I am grateful to Him for it and am excited about getting to minister to my patients from now on in that way.

Well, that is all. I feel closer to the Lord than I have in many years, and am grateful that He would choose to work in my heart this last couple of weeks. When over these last years I have seen that apart from Him there is no good in me,and that I will walk away from Him in a second if not for Him holding me, it means so much more when He works and changes me. He doesn't have to, and at times I have wondered it He would, but He is. Thank you Jesus.