Let’s say some people request you to do various things for them, but you immediately see that it would be an impossible task to do everything during the free time you have been given by God. If you are like me, you might have tried to do ALL things as quick as possible, though. In fact, I always thought that would be loving, kind, and polite to act that way. However, lately the Lord showed me how unloving it was. Not that I had been unloving toward others, but it began to dawn on me that I neglected my own needs extremely, or in other words, I hated myself. On Saturday I discovered an interesting quote on my daily calendar in the kitchen. It reads,
“The ability to give voice to the word ‘No’ is the first step toward freedom.”
Well, during the last few weeks I have learned to introduce this very word more and more often in my relationships with others and I also put an end to some of them. At first I feared the reactions from others extremely and was wavering in my faith like a nutshell on the ocean. Nonetheless, two days ago during my time alone with the Lord, I learned an interesting lesson regarding this issue. Resting in His peaceful presence and talking with Him about everything that kept bothering me, He gave me very helpful advice. As I was just thinking about whether to answer or not to answer to some people’s expectations, Jesus said, “Think the whole thing completely through. Imagine you do it the way you always did… just perceive how your feelings change after having done so.” That sounded quite simple. 🙄 I did as He had suggested and – lo and behold – as soon as I would think about meeting or responding to certain people, the hamster wheel of thoughts including worries about the future set in and the emotional confusion that followed could not be stopped until Jesus said, “Look at me instead!” Beholding Him with my mind’s eye, I felt His soothing light and His joyful peace coming back to me at once. Wow!! 🙂 Actually, God is the One who makes us think of and focus on Him; we cannot even do this on our own. As for me, I always forget about Him unless I feel a tender nudge that reminds me of His permanent presence again.
Furthermore, I realized lately why I cannot have relationships with everyone, whether Christians or not. Not only that I do not have the time to be with several people in different places at the same time, it also has to do with the fact that I ask the Lord for His guidance while many others don’t do that at all. They keep living according to their own thoughts and standards, personal goals and dreams. As for Christians who still live in their uncrucified self that tells them what to do and what to avoid (which is not God’s voice, for sure), it has often been as if two realms collided when I tried to pander to others’ whims and emotions instead of looking in the first place into my own heart where God dwells. Actually, I saw that we are indeed only able to let go of man’s approval as soon as our heart has been gripped by Christ who has become our first and only love. If there is still any love in our life that is more important than Him (spouse, kids, parents, friends etc.pp.), then there is still confusion and no clarity about what God wants us to do. This confusion springs from a divided heart that tries to keep its old habits and life while following the Lord. This will never work. Either we choose the narrow way, lose our old life and die to our old nature or we will never see God’s face, for it is written,
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. (Ps 24:3-6 ESV)
Or in Jesus’ words,
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Mt 5:8 ESV)