Friday, October 5, 2012

Mind in the Gutter or Fixed on God?

I’m embarrassed to say this, but one danger of being a cross-cultural worker is that I can become so focused on the spiritual growth of others that I neglect growing myself.  I’ve spent hours preparing Bible studies, listening to peoples’ struggles and encouraging them to trust God and be more like Jesus in their daily lives.  Then when my own life gets bumpy, I see that I also worry, fret, and get grouchy! I constantly remind myself to take my own medicine, to practice myself what I counsel others to do.

Lately God is reminding me to watch my words and to guard my thoughts more carefully.
I’m making David’s words in Psalm 19:14 my own prayer: 

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

I’m convicted about “the meditation of my heart,” my thoughts. How often do I choose to turn from negative thoughts to meditate on God’s power, His goodness, and His love for me? I’m asking God to help me to get rid of thoughts that are
  • Critical of others
  • Judgmental
  • Complaining
Only he can help me recognize these thoughts on a daily basis and draw near to Him to have my mind renewed.

Here’s a story about where my thoughts can take me:

Last week my husband defended his doctoral dissertation, which made for a stressful week. I’m married to an angel in disguise. My husband offices at home and helps a lot around the house, but four days before his defense, he got a bad case of the flu. When he’s really sick, my dear husband shuts down and stops talking, which is hard on any wife. Because he was sick and trying to prepare for his defense, I felt pressured by extra chores and worried about whether he’d be well enough.

Wednesday came, and everything went well.  We celebrated his milestone!

Then he woke up on Thursday and said, “I need some time to be alone, so I’m going out today.”  I understood that he wanted time to reflect on this achievement, but at the same time I felt that I’d been left on my own the whole week. I struggled for the rest of the morning with negative thoughts.  Inside I fumed and fussed, “YOU need time alone? You’ve been alone all week!”

My heart melted when he showed up at home early with flowers.

The flowers were a little wake-up call from God. David’s prayer came to my mind, and I realized that I had let my thoughts spiral out of control. Instead of praying for grace and joy to go the extra mile to serve my husband, I became irritated when he was too sick to serve me. I quickly asked God to forgive me and prayed Psalm 19:14 all over again.

Do you struggle with complaining, criticizing or judging, even though you’re a cross-cultural worker who’s supposed to be an example for others?  What areas would you like to grow in?


Aunt Michele said...

This is my biggest, worst struggle on the mission field!

Annmarie Pipa said...

I would like to grow in being a Christian...hahah lots of room to grow!!
congrats to your husband!

Tim and Susan said...

Thanks for being honest! It is a bit of an odd set up with our husbands working from home...I am still learning to make peace with it.

I find it hard to trust the Lord with my kids too, oh, and my unknown future!!. You know that GOD IS so incredibly faithful and will take care of things and lead us all in His perfect, best way...but still it is so hard to trust.
love and blessings, SUSAN

Denise said...

Nice post.

OliveTree said...

Michele, it is good to know I am not alone!

Thanks for your encouragement, friends.

And yes, Susan, I want to be honest. So often we put on the happy Christian mask and we're not real, but being real is a bit scary. It was a bit scary for me to post this!

Choate Family said...

Oh, I could have written this article! Except my husband has comprehensive exams next month. Thanks for being transparent and writing so clearly. We are all fighting these battles with the help of the Holy Spirit and each other!