Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In Other Words--Looking In or Up?

I'm a day late, but I still wanted to participate in this week's In Other Words. I apologise for missing yesterday--we are taking our "summer" break from school this month and the busyness of life just encroached. Nothing to be worried about family!


"Affliction will either warm you up toward spiritual things or turn you cold."
Joni Eareckson Tada
A Lifetime of Wisdom: Embracing the Way God Heals You

Affliction, difficulty, hardship is a part of all of our lives. We cannot escape rough things happening to us. For some, those things are huge and near devastating. For others, they are smaller, but can still be near devastating. Our response to the hardship, large or small, is the key.

I illustrate it with a tale of two women. Both women are articulate, fun, generous people at the beginning of our tale. They have lots of friends, both are married and one has children. They both attend church, lead in groups at church and have seemingly strong quiet times and a very real personal relationship with Jesus.

Then tragedy struck. Ironically similar things happened to both although they had never and would never meet. What happened is not important, as each of us can identify with our own "tragedy" striking. It is here that our two leading ladies come to a fork in their common road. It is here that decisions must be made. And alongside these leading ladies, we too make our decisions at the fork in the road.

Our first leading lady, we'll call her Ann for the story's sake, choose the path that said "anger." Ann became angry at anyone and everyone that passed her way. Her mantra was "why me?" and she pinned blame everywhere she could. Ann's friends and family took a large dose of her anger, but God caught most of the blame. Over the years, Ann all but abandoned her once strong relationship with God. She said it was justified because "He didn't stop" the bad things from happening. Any of her friends who dared to speak to her about moving forward were met with dismissal from her life. Ann's anger led to self-justification which led to isolation which led to more anger and the cycle repeats itself. Today, Ann lives a devastated life that is bitter and alone. All because she chose path "anger."

Hardship + Looking Inward =
Bitterness and Devastation

Our second leading lady, we'll call her Betty, chose the path that said "trust." Betty wore her emotional ride looking to Jesus for some sort of sense. She did express anger at what was happening, but asked God to help her forgive. Betty cried buckets full of tears believing that God was holding those tears as precious. She was not afraid to admit that she did not understand, all the while expressing that she knew God did understand and that was good enough. Betty's season of tragedy has had long-lasting results. Some of her relationships changed because people could not understand that she would forgive. She chose to lean on God instead of people. Betty would be the first to tell you that the single most important thing that happened through these circumstances is that God showed Himself faithful, time and time again. Today, Betty lives a vibrant life, altered because of hardship, but still vibrant.

Hardship + Looking Upward =
Life of Abundance and Hope

(in spite of circumstances)

We each will stand at that fork in the road during our lifetimes. Some of us may find that place over and over again. Each time we have to choose. Do we take the path of anger? Do we look inward and become bitter? Or do we take the path of trust and allow God to change us in spite of the circumstances.

Are you at the crossroad? Are you looking In or Up? Praying that we all choose the correct path when we reach it.

Have a blessed week!

Debbie at Heart Choices is our lovely hostess. It's her first IOW party, so please make her feel welcome!


Tami Boesiger said...

LOVE your equations, MiPa! They are a concise way of summing up our choice. Thanks!

Denise Hughes said...

"Our response to the hardship, large or small, is the key." Words well-spoken. Hardships bring us to a crossroads for sure. I pray that we each look only to the cross in such times. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this quote.

PS> I like the pictures of the quilts in your blog header. (I'm a quilter too.) :)