Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Testing the Strong Ones

So...I'm very much all about finding your strength, choosing happiness and relying on God for your peace, strength and joy. I think we have a lot of power over our attitudes and our attitudes have power over our emotions.

I'm also a girl. You can't control how you feel. Right? Well it is a battle. And sometimes we lose that battle. But we can't stop fighting.

No one has to fight their battles alone however. I don't just mean God is with is. He is. And perhaps there are battles we have to fight alone. But God also encourages us to find fellowship with fellow Christians. We're the body of Christ and he intends for us to fellowship with each other to encourage one another and lift people up. We don't have to be alone.

In the past I've tended to internalize and try and handle things on my own. Mostly because I know it can take a tole on friends and I should not be dragging them down with me day after day...they need encouragement to! But there is a balance here.

This semester I've been blessed with a group of girl. Once a week we have an all girl Bible study. Having it be all girls allows us to be vulnerable, honest and transparent about our struggles with each other. I am so thankful for them. In that time...we laugh and find joy amidst pains and stress. We share our sorrows. We pray and encourage each other. We keep each other accountable. It's amazing.

I've noticed that we often have a lot of the same issues. Stress, pain, heartbreak, etc. We could easily have a weekly pity party. We could just vent and focus on our pain and problems. But we don't. Because we have a purpose.

The following is an exert from a book I'm reading about loneliness:

-Be still and know that He is God.
When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste your soul. Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.
-Remember that you are not alone.
"The Lord, He it is that doth go with thee. He will not fail thee neither forsake thee. Be strong and of good courage." (Deut. 31:8) Jesus promised His disciples, "Lo, I am with you always." (Matt. 28:20) Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.
-Give thanks.
In times of my greatest loneliness I have been lifted up by the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18, "For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen." This is something to thank God for. This loneliness itself, which seems a weight, will be far outweighed by glory.
-Refuse self-pity.
Refuse it absolutely. It is deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.
(I agree so much with this. The second you start focusing on yourself and turn only feel worse because you let your own problems consume you and you can't see the bigger picture, much less anyone else around you.)
-Accept your loneliness.
It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that brings you to God. It will not always last.
-Offer up your loneliness to God,
as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others.
(Christianity is one of the only religions that considers suffering a good thing. Our trials strengthen us and they are temporary. They help shape us into stronger better people who are more affective. No, it is not that God wants us to be in pain. He does however allow pain. He doesn't set in. He wants to see us look to him in that pain and he blesses us with strength peace and character.)
-Do something for somebody else.
No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, somebody who needs you. Pray that you may be an instrument of God's peace, that where there is loneliness you may bring joy.

The last one is where my Bible study fits. We are all in pain. Yet, rather than dragging each other down day after day...we are lifting each other up. Though we are in pain...we can allow other people to encourage us and in return we encourage them...think of them.

I think this helps me put my own pain into perspective. If I focus on myself, I hurt myself more. I drag myself and everyone who cares about me down with me. If I realize that everyone around me is struggling to...and put my own struggles into context I realize that it my responsibility to be there for others. There is something about doing that, that makes you feel good too. You aren't focused on yourself, you realize youre not alone, and others will be there to encourage you right back.

All this to say I am thankful for these girls. And I encourage everyone to choose to think of others and be uplifting.


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