Monday, July 16, 2012

Hello, My name is... Martyr?

Name tags are very handy. At gatherings and parties name tags help quickly identify who we are, tell us who we are about to introduce ourselves to. And in some cases like business networking or ministry functions the name tags may even include what we do, so that the person looking at it has even better idea very quickly of who we are and what we may be about.
Over the last 16 months or so I have become much more acutely aware of something… That at the very least a whole lot of us women seem to find it an honor of some twisted sort to walk around with a name tag that says "worn out, frazzled, frustrated, and encased in busyness"... and the title under the name? “A Living Martyr”.

That says a whole lot very clearly doesn't it? I mean, we can very easily understand what we're dealing with when we read that title. And the reason I can say this is because at times I too have worn that title on my tag to the world. And I wrote that self created moniker on my tags with my own pen, in my own handwriting.

I've been thinking about the ‘why’s’ lately. I mean yes, I have busy days and even weeks occasionally, and rightly so because sometimes life just gets messy and hard and demands a lot from me. But it’s the self sabotage behavior that I’m speaking of here, and that isn’t something that God demands of me – not to the point of detriment. So I have started asking myself, and others as well, why do so many of us  seem to strive very hard to able to fit so much more in a day and a week than there is really room for? Why do we seem to relish the challenge? Why do so many seem to not be able to talk about anything for any length of time at all without somehow getting around to reciting their to-do-list and the enormous scope of it? And Why do so many of us seem to be so proud of the fact that we are exhausted?
Here are some thoughts about it all that I’ve had:
For some it seems to simply be a way to draw attention – to be able to say “look at me, see me” when we maybe feel there is no other reason for someone to notice us.
For some it’s a way to always be right - because it means if they are the one that ‘does everything’ that gives no one else the right to have input.
For others it is a way to remain in that place of misery that we have lived in for so long we can’t fathom anything else – we’re way too comfortable there.
For some it can be a way to make sure we are ‘needed’ – it becomes a good thing somehow for others to not be able imagine doing anything successfully without our help “If we want it done right then we need to ask insert your name here”.
For some, it’s the acts of service gone awry –out of some sort of guilt. We must always be giving an serving even unto exhaustion – as if somehow this is being holy.
And there are a whole lot of Martha’s out there (Luke 10).
In the name of ‘having it all’ society has in many ways told us we can do it all, should do it all.
Some of our churches over the years have even taught us (maybe unknowingly) to feel we have to be involved in everything coming and going in the name of serving God and being a ‘good Christian woman’.

My reasons for wearing the badge before? Truthfully, it’s been a combination of several of the above scenarios, all different depending on when in my life you would be referring to.
I feel very differently now.
But it was a revelation forced on me by a God who cared enough to stay after me. Seems to be the normal way to reach me – He has to be very persistent :)
With more time on my hands after losing my job, I at first I saw on some level a chance to fill it with everything I could get my hands on (really to be honest I was running from the 'quiet' - does that sound familiar by chance?).
I mean, I’ve worked hard since I was 17years old. I had two parents that were hard workers. I come by it naturally.
How about this one  - does this sound familiar? “Oh my gosh I could volunteer for this ministry and that one, I could do more at church, and began setting up more activities, helping with and creating more opportunities, and I can, I can, I can...”  Gee, wonder what the common theme was there?

But God had much different plans for me.
He had plans for me to seek Him more. He wanted me to Himself more. He desired to speak to me on a more ongoing basis. He had a better idea of how to teach me what may be next for me. He wanted and wants to always be preparing me for what HE has ahead.
When things didn’t work out like I thought they would, He was there. When they were cooking with gas, but I was miserable and worn out, He was there waiting.
He was waiting to get on with the work of renewing me, refreshing me, pouring into my life so I could then pour back out. Teaching me, speaking to me, romancing me.
I’m beginning to see a ‘me’ I like much more now.
It’s a ‘me’ that I think my friends and my husband like much more now too.

I am a bit more of a woman who revels in actually doing nothing every once in a while with no guilt because I am supposed to rest in Him - find quality time for just me and Him.
Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
I want to ‘stop and smell the flowers’ as the old saying goes, I mean He created them after all -
Psalm 19:1-4 “
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.I want to love being a part of the Creation that cries out His existence each day and night, and experience the gift of the time He has given me – not wasting, but relishing.

I want to clearly see the hand of God at work and what it can do, not how much I can accomplish in a short amount of time –
John 3:30 “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
I want to choose carefully what I do… there are many good thing that need attention but a very few that are great for the purpose He has given me in this season and I want His best plan for me –
Proverbs 16:9 “
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps”
I should be concerned that others find their gifts and use them to help fulfill His plan. And I’m not to feel guilty about doing only what He wants me to –
Ephesians 4:16 “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
Romans 8:1  “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”
If I want to be holy then I should imitate God’s standard – Jesus Christ… not try to outdo Him –
1 Peter 1:15-17 "
But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy”. And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land.”
I need to long for the things that make me truly holy in Him…Psalm 42:1 "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God."
Romans 12:2 "
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
And as far as all the Martha’s out there (of which I have been known to be at many times in my life)... Luke 10:41-42 "But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
He makes me holy. So knowing Him, spending time with Him, discerning His voice and doing the exact things He wants me to do accomplish His Will for not only my life but for others in my life is what He desires of me. Not keeping busy, packing my days, serving on every mission, every ministry in the church, every opportunity that comes along – His plans are holy and perfect. I want joy, time, abundant life, laughter, deeper relationships, and divine appointments He is creating every day for me.

A. W. Tozer said “In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth, God is pleased when we’re pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our maker’s praise without anxiety [stress].” 
I want to make sure I’m always giving more of Him away, not more of me, in carefully selected ways that please Him and praise Him, and bring me closer to Him – because that's when I'm the happiest, that's living stress free!

I want to choose to wear a badge that says “Living Abundantly in Him” instead of “Living Martyr”

Joyful on the Journey

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